The clock strikes 6:00 p.m and an email from your dream college pops up. The long awaited day where decisions come out from your early decision application is only a click away. Shaking, you log in to your account only to see “We regret to inform you…”
Receiving a rejection letter, or arguably even more frustrating a deferral, can feel like a major bump in the road in your path to college acceptance. Putting extra time into an ED (early decision) application and building your hopes on being accepted can make this one rejection feel discouraging. However, it is important to not let this get in the way of your senior year.
For one, there’s nothing you can do about it anymore. While it can be easy to look back and say “I should have studied more for the SAT” or “I should have worked harder on my grades,” at this point in the college admissions process, it is hard to say if either of those things really were the tipping point in why you were not accepted. Maybe a college had already taken in too many people from your state or needed more people pursuing a different major. Don’t assume that not being accepted means you never had a chance.
It is also important to understand that rejection is an inevitable part of applying to college. Each year, more students apply to a four-year university and colleges haven’t been able to expand their class size in response. In 2018, about 20.4 million students attended college. This is 5.1 million students more than in 2000.
Despite this growing selectiveness in the admissions process, applying to a college ED can feel promising when seeing their acceptance rate expand from 20% regular decision to 30% early decision. Although the acceptance rate may have grown 10% for ED, this is still a 70% rejection rate. While you might hear more from people who have been accepted than people who have been rejected, it is important to remember that you’re far from alone in your possible feelings of disappointment.
According to teen psychologist Susan Bartell, students cope best when they understand “It’s not a reflection of them; it’s not a reflection of how smart they are. It’s a reflection of so many other factors.”
Even with this in mind it can feel unsatisfying to live with the mentality of “I did everything right and still got rejected.” For those, Bartell says to “Look where I did get into, and focus on what’s really great about those schools.”
Senior Serena Saul put this attitude into action when she was deferred from a college she applied early action to. “Getting deferred has its positives and negatives. It is almost like a second shot in the sense that it’s not really over, and there is still a chance of getting in. It is not necessarily a rejection but also not an acceptance, so it is somewhat nice to have that sense of hope,” senior Serena Saul said. While every college varies, according to Ivy Coach, on average about 10% of deferred students are admitted during the regular decision cycle.
Although a rejection letter can appear daunting, try looking towards the future and all the opportunities that come along with the new school you’ll attend. “Allow yourself to be heartbroken for a few days but then take a look at your college list, make sure it is balanced with reach, realistic and likely schools. Then speak with your college advisor who will always do their best to cheer you up, root for you and give college suggestions,” said senior guidance counselor Mrs. Bikoundou.