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How to Deal With College Rejection

How to Deal With College Rejection
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By Tom Wahl

Schools have made their admission decisions, and approximately 95% of applicants have received a declination letter. If you’ve spent hours researching colleges, writing essays, completing the Common Application, and meeting alumni for interviews, rejection can hurt.

Even if you’ve moved every two years and already have had to deal with being accepted into new schools, new circles of friends, and new teams, rejection is still hard to accept.

Military spouse Kerri Beckert, owner of Anchor Collegiate, has this to say to everyone who has received a rejection letter: “Do not let this denial define you. Do not let it influence the way you finish your senior year. Do not let it make you think that you did not deserve to be there or were not qualified. Hard decisions were made that had a lot to do with things you could not control — other applicants in your area, the admissions goal the institution set for the year, the color of your skin, gender, ethnicity, parents’ educational status, where you live, the ability of your parents or you to pay. Go elsewhere. Achieve. Do the great things you were planning to do. Use this skinned knee as a blessing. You were worthy of admission, just not chosen — and that's a shame, but not a judgment on who you are or who'll you'll become.”

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Now is the time to focus on the colleges that said “yes.” Embrace the choice you’re going to make: Visit the school again, start researching activities, and make appointments with counselors and faculty to explore majors and paths of study. And buy a sweatshirt!

It’s always hard for parents to see a child rejected from something they worked so hard for. We’ve witnessed our kids’ obstacles before, from having to leave a school early to not seeing a deployed parent in the audience for a school play.

As with the obstacles of growing up military, college rejection can help military kids learn how to deal with life’s other inevitable disappointments — from not getting an internship to not getting the jobs and promotions they think they deserve. Priscilla Sands, the Head of School at Marlborough School in Los Angeles, tells parents “to understand the pain, but also not rob their child of an opportunity to use it as a growth experience.”

Remember the good company you keep if you’ve been rejected by your first college choice: Warren Buffett, Meredith Vieira, Ted Turner, and Tom Brokaw (to name a few) took advantage of the opportunities offered by their second or third choices — and did pretty well in life.

Hopefully the school that said no wasn’t the only one you applied to. If it was, check out this list of well-known schools still accepting applications.

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