This post originally appeared on College Advice, and has been edited below for ease.
To a very small subset of our population, March is seen as a joyous month, filled with blooming flowers and a new bright, yellow-filled wardrobe. But that lucky cohort doesn't have to face college application notification letters. Namely, Ivy Day.
On March 31st, the Ivy Leagues announce their decisions for students interested in attending their fine institutions. Under the legislation of the Common Date, all Ivy institutions are forbidden from announcing Regular Decision applicant's status until the common date, typically in late March (Dartmouth Admissions).
I remember rushing home, nearly breaking the screen of my laptop to check my email before even taking off my backpack. At first, there were no messages, so I incessantly refreshed until -- at 5p.m., I saw! and pulled up Brown and Columbia's emails simultaneously, one of which would decide my fate. And although one of the two played the school's anthem, I couldn't shake off my stung-heart feelings from being rejected.
Rejection from any college sucks. However, it's important to understand that there is a world outside college admissions, and life is actually okay with a rejection letter from anywhere between one and infinite schools. Here's my breakdown on how to best equip yourself this week:
1. College Admittance ≠ Self Worth.
Despite what others argue on College Confidential and Gossip Girl, the college you attend has very little to do with who you are as a person. It may say something about you, but your value as a human being is not produced by the name of your alma mater.
Dispel the association of your school determining who you are. Even if you go to Brown. (#BlairWaldorf.)
2. Look at the yes's (and maybes).
Although the Ivies announce their applicants' status simultaneously, there are approximately 4,000 number of colleges -- and you applied to at least one other school that you hopefully have already heard back from. Know that rejection is not the end, but rather a bump along the way.
Also understand that the wait list is not a rejection, or even a "polite rejection." From the perspective of the college admissions office, there are simply not as many seats in their class roster for as many great applicants. This sounds like the cliché bullshit others report, but it's true!
Being waitlisted means yes, just not right now.
3. Consider the rejection the right choice.
If you weren't accepted to a college, it might reflect more on the school than you. Schools have unique personalities with certain student types, or "personas."
Columbia wouldn't be Columbia without its overambitious, overachieving hungry-for-success students, just as Brown without it's laid-back approach to academics and small New England town feel. Admission officers know who will fit well within the institutions they recruit for, and take a student's personality into serious consideration when deliberating her application.
4. Appeal if they're wrong.
But if you believe there was a fundamental error in your application, there is a second hope -- by means of appealing. An appeal involves petitioning a school's decision, and arguing for a potential second chance at reviewing an app.
It's strongly important to keep in mind that some schools do not even consider appeal processes. For instance, Columbia has no appeal process, and "applicants are not re-considered for admission" (Columbia Student Affairs).
Furthermore, your application is very unlikely to be reviewed a second time given a university's careful selection process the first-time around.
However, if you possess significant new information (ie. new test scores, a better letter of recommendation, climbing Mt. Everest last weekend) or realize that a part of your application was submitted in error (ie. wrong test scores, wrong essay), you may be able to submit a petition for an appeal at a college or university. Before appealing, be prepared to endure many rejected phone calls and emails, and be willing to spend a large chunk of time just convincing the college to reread your app.
5. All else fails, apply to transfer next year.
If your heart is still set on a particular school, even after reviewing your other options and taking some time to think about them, consider applying as a transfer application in the following year. Who knows -- maybe in time you'll learn that, like my relationship with Brown, it wasn't the school for you.
What are your best tips for handling rejection? Leave them in the Comments space below.
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