Getting Rejected From Your Dream School

November 29, 2017

In a little over 2 weeks, thousands of high school seniors will be receiving their first college admission result. Unfortunately, it can’t all be good news.

Early admission deadlines were in early November and results will start to trickle in mid-December. There will be many students celebrating their acceptances, relieved that their application process is over after a few short months. Unfortunately, with increasing low acceptance rates, the vast majority of applicants will either be deferred or rejected from the first college they applied to: their dream college.

Unless you’ve received a deferral or rejection letter from your dream college, you’re unlikely to understand how crushing that feeling really is. I was deferred from Yale University, my dream school since the age of 5. I ended up at Georgetown University, and loved every minute. But, I can still vividly remember how heartbroken I was when I first received my admissions notification mid-December of 2010.

This might not soften the blow, but here are a 4 tips to help you prepare for worst case scenario and help you move on:

1. It’s okay to be heartbroken.

Don’t let others tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel. After all the hard work you put in through high school and over the last few months on your application, it’s tough to hear “maybe” or “no”. So, embrace your emotions. Whether you want to cry it all out or vent out your anger, do it. It’s healthy to let those feelings out.

2. Don’t take it personally!

College applications aren’t a measure of your worth. Your deferral or rejection letter doesn’t define who you are and most certainly doesn’t define your future. Just as there are many different reasons applicants are accepted, there are also many different reasons applicants aren’t accepted. Unfortunately, there are many factors that are outside of your control.

3. Was it really your best college fit?

One of the many reasons is maybe the college isn’t as good of a fit as you thought it would be. Think about it this way: it’s their loss! If they don’t accept an excellent candidate like yourself, then it might not have the fit you wanted in the first place. Another college may be looking for exactly what you offer, and might end up being a better match for you. It’s almost analogous to a relationship. Would you want to date someone who’s not interested in you? No.  

4. This is an opportunity.

Deferral and rejection letters are painful to accept, but it’s something you need to learn how to do. Do what you need to do let your emotions out, then turn that energy into motivation and focus on your regular decision applications. Be even more determined to show off your candidacy as an applicant, and what you can offer to the colleges you’re applying to. Review your early admission application and see if there was anything you could have improved. Take this opportunity to learn from your first round of applications, and apply it to the regular decision application.

While this moment will hurt, it will help you overcome rejections in the future, or at the very least put you in a better mental state. College can be a difficult transition and this early rejection might end up being the foundation you need to help you succeed once you get to college.

Applying to college?
View the app files and essays of accepted students.

I wish all early applicants from the Class of 2018 the best of luck! I hope many of you will hear good news and not have to use any of the tips from this article. If you find yourself in that position, I wish this helps you find comfort and renewed energy for regular decision applications!

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About The Author

Frances Wong
Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.


Browse Successful Application Files

Tulane ‘20

Accepted to Tulane, UC Berkeley, Cincinnati, UPenn

Hi y'all! I'm an incoming freshmen at Tulane University in New Orleans, where I'll be studying Architecture, with a coordinate major in International Development and a minor in Urban Studies. Hope I can help with this #difficult process!
Vanderbilt ‘18

Accepted to Baruch, Binghamton, Brooklyn College, Hunter, Macaulay Honors, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, UPenn, Brown, Cornell, SUNY Buffalo, Rice, Vanderbilt, NYU, Columbia

I grew up in New York City, Bronx and Brooklyn to be exact. I went to pretty big public schools and once you find a supportive yet motivating group of friends, teachers, advisors, and counselors to complement your family, life becomes a whole lot better!
MIT ‘20

Accepted to MIT, UMich, Rutgers, Cornell, Rice, JHU

computer science / design / music / film
Tufts ‘18

Accepted to CMU, BC, Tufts, Northeastern

Just a rising sophomore trying to help my peers find a school that fits them best! Ask me about engineering, essays, or life in general.

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