Getting that letter can be really tough. You worked your butt off this year. You spent countless hours studying for standardized tests. You came early to school and stayed late for sports practices and club meetings. You spent time and money visiting colleges with the hopes that they would see in your essays what you, yourself, know you are capable of and yet, it didn’t work out. We know. We’ve been there, too.
It might be a little tender to think about right now, but sometimes it helps to know why. First and foremost, it is not personal. It can be really hard to separate your own worth from the decision that was just made. After all, it can feel like you really let these colleges into all aspects of your life. They know about your interests, your hobbies, your future aspirations, even the personal details you wrote, rewrote, and wrote again in your personal essays. How could it not be personal? If you’ve read any of our blog posts up until this point, then you might already know that we are pretty comfortable being honest. So let’s go over this again. It’s not personal. You are more than a test score and you’ll just have to trust us on this one.
What Happened: Part I
It just wasn’t the right fit.
Sometimes, the grass is just greener on the other side. We have had kids get rejected from schools that just weren’t right for them. It meant nothing about their resumes, their test scores, or their essays, but like a good old-timey yente, schools can tell when it’s not a match. Every year, we have kids who apply to schools because their parents went there or because they really wanted the process to be over so they picked the first place that looked acceptable. But perhaps that school changed since their parents went there or in the end, the ostensibly “acceptable” school didn’t actually have the program our kid wanted. When you base a major life decision on a whim or a casual recommendation, it’s probably not going to end well. So, if you were qualified and got rejected from a school and can’t figure out why, trust that it wasn’t the right fit for you and the school is doing you a favor. Transfering is not fun. It’s better to go somewhere that is a good fit now than to be crushed a year or two into your college investment.
What Happened: Part II
When it comes to rejections, there’s also a second possibility. This one is probably a little more difficult to reckon with, but if you’re going to move on (and we know you are) then taking a moment to reflect honestly and accept what happened is crucial to the process.
If you got rejected and your SAT scores were in the bottom 25th-50th percentile, you just weren’t qualified. You might be a stellar human being with awesome extracurriculars, but ultimately, in the game of college applications, test scores and grades reign supreme.
One of our writers was student body president of her school. She was the star of the plays and took AP classes. Everyone at her school knew she was applying ED to Yale and so, when she got the dreaded email that she had been rejected, she was crushed and embarrassed to face everyone the next day. When she finally accepted that it wasn’t personal, she worked up the courage to reflect upon her stats. She had really good grades but not excellent grades and at the end of the day, she spent way more time doing community service and theater than she ever did studying for the SAT. She realized that she hadn’t been qualified after all. While it hurt to get rejected, when she really thought about it, she regretted nothing. Ultimately, she went to a great undergrad school and an Ivy League graduate school.
So, what now?
First thing’s first.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it,” said Maya Angelou.
We agree wholeheartedly. You really went for something in life and when you do that, you run the risk of getting hurt. These rejections are, in our experience, not an impediment to your success, but rather, the salt of what will make you grow. It might take a bit of time to get to the point in which you see the value in the rejection and how you learned from it. For now, it’s okay to be sad.
When you are ready, remember to keep going. This is just the beginning. Luckily, in the college process, you get three rounds. So, in order to prepare for the next round, it’s important to face the facts: what happened? What are you really qualified for? If you have a 1300 on the SAT and you’re not a legacy with a major donation, you’re not getting into Brown and that’s okay. Remember that it’s not personal. Be honest with yourself about where you are qualified to apply and revise your list. We are here to help.
Need some help determining which schools are a great fit for you? Contact us here.