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Student staring at laptop, looking frustrated as he reads his college rejection letter

Ever since you were a freshman in high school, you’ve had a dream of attending a beautiful college on the Southeast Coast and studying Marine Biology.  You did your research, completed your college application, got letters of recommendation, applied for scholarships, and started planning what your dorm room would look like.  But then… get a letter from the college and realize you didn’t get accepted.  What are your options?

Let’s first determine what might have gone wrong:

You forgot to add documentation.

This is something that is mostly considered a formality.  If there is information that you have neglected to include with your application, there’s a good chance that the admission committee didn’t even see it.  The initial review would’ve determined that documents were missing, and it wouldn’t have gotten very far in the process.

Your admission essay was poorly written.

A strong college application will include several non-negotiable items that you will need to include in your essay: stellar grammar/spelling, the things that make you stand out as a student and all-around person, creativity/clarity, and personal examples are among the most sought after items in a college essay.  If it doesn’t contain most or all these items, more than likely, your essay will get passed over every time.

You didn’t meet the college’s GPA requirements.

This is pretty self-explanatory; pay attention to those grades and learn what GPA your chosen college(s) requires.

You didn’t add any extracurricular activities or volunteer work.

Colleges want to know more about you than just grades and sports.  Did you regularly spend time at any agencies or organizations that needed volunteers?  Did you join any clubs or groups?  Did you help to organize any fundraisers or charity events?  You need to include every one of these as it shows you are well-rounded and want to give back to your community.

The college simply doesn’t have room for you.

Some schools have limited space, whereby they include a certain number of new recruits and don’t go beyond that unless there is a cancellation.

With all these in mind, what can you do to move on from a rejection letter?

Write an appeal letter.

Every college has a process for submitting an appeal.  You will need to research the college’s requirements for the appeal and hope they will reconsider.

Don’t dwell on it.

There will be many “what ifs.”  You’re not alone in this process, and it’s not personal.  Use the rejection as a learning experience and figure out how to make it better moving forward.

Celebrate the wins.

Focus on the acceptance letters; just because your dream school is no longer an option doesn’t mean there isn’t another school you’ve applied to with similar items on your wish list.  Focus on the schools that DID accept you and choose the one that you feel is best.

A rejection letter is nothing new, but it’s important that you shift gears and come up with a different plan if necessary.  There are so many amazing schools out there that would love to meet you!

By Lori Caffery