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Handling a college rejection letter


Thursday, April 04, 2013

No matter how thoroughly they may have prepared their college application, some students will inevitably be met with disappointment in the form of a rejection letter. As increasing numbers of students apply to colleges across the country and schools become more selective, it is a mathematical certainty that some students will be turned away. While a rejection letter from your dream school can be a major blow, it does not have to be devastating experience.

Nothing personal
Yes, rejection is tough, but students need to realize that being turned down by their dream school is seldom a reflection on them as a person. Remember that a college's class profile changes from year to year. While your grades, extracurriculars, and test scores indicate that you are a stellar student, you may not fall into the demographic for that year. The college rejection letter is rarely a personal indictment.

Something else students should bear in mind after receiving a rejection letter is that, in many cases, the college application process can be highly arbitrary. Laura Docherty, former president of the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling, told the Chicago Tribune that applying to college often resembles gambling, and that the likelihood of students' gaining admission to selective schools can be highly difficult to predict.

Another Door Opens
Keep in mind is that sometimes, opportunities can be disguised as disappointments. In some cases, students who have been rejected from their dream school have received acceptance letters from other colleges, and this can lead to radically different career paths — often for the better.

"Disappointment can lead to creativity, personal strength and a growing capacity for problem-solving," F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist based in New York City, wrote in Psychology Today. "After sitting with your unhappiness for awhile, and being sure to acknowledge that it is both understandable and reasonable to feel down about any rejection, ask yourself, 'what next?' Make a plan. And then take action."

Of course, even if students are aware of these facts, that may not make a college rejection letter easier to accept—at least, not at first. However, students who have been denied admission to their dream school should remember that opportunities can arise from the most unusual situations, and what could initially be perceived as a negative may in fact be a blessing in disguise.

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