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"Rejected By Your Dream Colleges? It's not you, it's them! Here's why."

I'm going to try to make you feel better. It might not work. Yet. But no matter what the college decision is, you're going to be okay.

Colleges are a business, and as such they have institutional priorities and directives. Sometimes those priorities are transparent, sometimes they're not. For example, it may be that admitting a red-haired oboe player from Russia will fulfill directives admissions officers receive about creating a class, a class that has to pay the bills if not individually, collectively. Although a rejection of your application feels like the most personal thing in the world, it's actually not. You will never be a red-haired Russian oboe player, nor should you be. Keep being you. Look to the future and not to the past. You cannot change it and that's ok.

You are also unfortunately living in a pandemic test-optional population spike which translates to more applications being received by great schools meaning more rejections than ever before--of qualified, smart, achieving good people just like you. There simply aren't enough slots for everyone to get into the same schools. This rejection is not the end of the world. I know it may feel like it right now, but trust me, it's not.

So, what should you do? Allow yourself to feel disappointed. It's okay to be upset and to grieve the loss of that opportunity. But don't let that disappointment turn into despair. Instead, use it as motivation to keep pushing forward and to find other options that will be just as fulfilling. There are so many great schools out there. Consider a Plan B. Breathe. Pivot. Adapt.

One way to do that is to consider the other schools you applied to and were accepted into. Take a closer look at those schools and think about what they offer. What are their strengths? What kind of community do they have? How do they support their students? What opportunities did you overlook when you focused on the dream school instead? Dig back into the website, department pages, research opportunities and club pages, etc.

Ultimately, the most important factor to consider is how you feel about the school. Does this institution share your top values? (Do you know your top values?) Do you see yourself fitting in with the student body? Are you excited about the academic programs and extracurricular activities offered? Do you feel like this is a place where you can thrive and grow? Trust your instincts.

College is just one step in your journey. It's not the end-all, be-all. No matter where you end up going, you'll have opportunities to learn, grow, and create a bright future for yourself. Keep your head up, stay positive, and keep moving forward.


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