Did you apply Early Action, Early Decision, or Restrictive Early Action? Maybe you just heard back… but you didn’t get in. If that’s the case, let’s talk about what to do next.
See This as an Opportunity
Although it may be upsetting to get that rejection, we want you to see this as an opportunity. Take this moment to really get your college list into shape, and make sure you apply to everywhere you need to apply. You can think of this as a wake up call to encourage you to be realistic about where to apply for college.
When applying to college you should always hedge your bets. The first way of doing this is make sure you apply to a good mix of schools. Make sure you have defined your reach schools, target schools, and safety schools. If you need more info on how to build a college list, check out our video. A reach school is anything with an admit rate lower than 20%. If you’re a super strong candidate, a school with a 20-30% admit rate might be a good fit. For a strong candidate, a safety school will have an admit rate greater than 30%. For a more average candidate, a safety school may be around 50% admit rate.
Another way to hedge your bets is to buy more lottery tickets. By this, we mean you increase your odds if you apply to more schools. The probability of getting into one of 10 schools is higher than if you only apply to three schools. This is true even if they all have the same admit rate. Of course, the strength of your application will also determine your chances. Remember that every application will be a little bit different. Additionally, every admissions decision is somewhat subjective.
Figure out How to Improve your Application
This is an opportunity for self-reflection. One of the best things you can do right now is go over that application that didn’t get you into where you wanted it to, and ask yourself how it could improve. Of course, if you didn’t get into a school like Harvard or Stanford, the reason you were rejected may simply be that you aren’t a legacy, or the best candidate at your school. However, if there’s anything you think could be better, focus on polishing it up.
We have tons of videos on our channel that can help you improve your application. You may also find someone in your life, such as a family member or teacher, who can help look over your application. Ask them to help you figure out why you didn’t get in. If you can afford it, you can also go to a college consultant or tutor and request help looking over your application and essays (for info on SupertutorTV tutors, check out our tutoring page). Wherever you go, figure out how to make your application better.
If You’re Deferred, Take Action
If you happen to be in the deferred pile, you can check out our video on what to do next. Do not just sit still. You should take action. This means writing a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI), and trying to get an interview. If you get deferred, you can’t just sit around and assume you’ll eventually roll over into the regular admission pile. Assert yourself and be a voice that is heard. You need to send that school a message.
Sometimes schools have their own deferral processes. You may need to fill out an online form, or send them confirmation by a certain date. Even if they do roll you over to regular admission automatically, you should still do everything you can to be heard.
Come up with a Plan B
Not getting into where you wanted is a good wake up call. Not only do you choose the college, but the college also chooses you. It’s time to come up with a Plan B, or maybe even a Plan C and D as well. You should plan in such a way that you know for a fact that you will go to college somewhere and get a degree. Those two things are far more important than where you go to college. Make sure you answer the question, “What happens if I get rejected everywhere?”
Your Plan B might be applying to a good state safety school to save your parents a bundle of money. Or you might look into schools that aren’t ranked as high overall, but are great in the field you are interested in. Finally, you may also head to community college for the first few years, and then transfer into a good university that takes a lot of transfers. For anyone in California, the UC system is known for accepting a lot of transfer students. You may also go to a state school for undergrad, and then apply to your dream school for graduate school. Map out some real-word scenarios for your worst-case situation.
Embrace Your Inner Awesomeness
This process is incredibly stressful, and it can feel like the end of the world sometimes when things aren’t coming together in the way you want. Even though you’re still a teenager, you can still feel a ton of pressure, and like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. If you put in the effort through this process, get the best grades you can, work hard and put your heart into this, then you already won. Studies show that for the majority of students, if you just apply to top colleges, your life results are about the same as everyone who ends up going to those schools. Remember all of the accomplishments you have already, and know that a congratulations letter from a college won’t change that.