We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of students opening their college acceptances and celebrating with friends and family. For some students, receiving the admission decision is one of the most joyous experiences of their lives. But for many students, attending their dream school may not become a reality.

Dealing with rejection is difficult, and as colleges across the country boast about increases in applications and the quality of those applications, rejection becomes increasingly more likely. That’s why these rejections are particularly devastating – you have spent your entire high school career stretching yourself inside and outside of the classroom. And while you have grown tremendously as an individual and enjoyed your experiences, you have imagined yourself as the star of one of those YouTube videos.

Here are some tips on how to deal with a college rejection:

  • Cope with the loss: Take a day or two to feel bad for yourself. You put a lot of work into your college applications and it is okay to be upset. Watch a movie, get some take out, go for a long walk, whatever you need to do – but don’t let that mourning period extend past a few days. It is okay to feel sad but the reality is, you don’t know why the institution made the decision, and you never will.  There is no reason to harp on the why.
  • Focus on the good: Hopefully, you’ve gotten admitted to your safety school(s). Those schools see value in you and they want to include you in their community.
  • Reflect: Think about what it was about your dream school that you liked, and be specific.  Whether it was the size, location, course structure, a major, research, study abroad, or any number of other attributes, it’s extremely likely that there are other schools with very similar attributes which you applied to. In fact, often students have been so focused on their original dream school, that they may have missed programs and opportunities that are more aligned to their interests at other institutions.
  • Visit the schools that admitted you: This will allow you a fresh look at the institution without your previous dream school looming in the background. You should join and engage in social media groups for admitted students to meet new people and start feeling like part of the community. Reframing your thinking will help you to feel revitalized and take advantage of the new opportunities that are available you.
  • Give your admitted schools a chance: While transferring is always an option, it is very likely that you may have an opportunity to be in an even better situation than you had previously imagined. Use your experiences through the college process as inspiration to do well in the classroom, get involved in the school community and create a lasting legacy on your college campus.

[Read more: The advantages of an admissions counselor]

Remember, you are about to embark on a once in a lifetime experience. You get to go to a new place, be taught by some of the most intelligent people you will ever meet and be a part of a community that truly values and appreciates the uniqueness that is you. Take advantage of it!

About the author

Jamie received a BA from University of Mary Washington and an MA in higher education administration from George Mason University. Jamie has a decade of admissions experience at several institutions, including University of California – Berkeley and Loyola University Maryland. He also served as associate director of college counseling at a private high school in Washington, DC. Jamie provides oversight for all undergraduate counseling at AcceptU. He is an IECA Professional Member.

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