Rejected from Your Dream College? You Can Still Get In.
If you applied early decision to your top school, you’ll have received the news by now. If it’s a yes, then congratulations are certainly in order—but if you’ve been placed on the waiting list or rejected outright, you may be feeling a bit dejected. If you’ve been dreaming about attending this particular school ever since you started kindergarten, you might even be in the midst of an existential crisis. So how can you reverse this tragic admissions decision?
Chances are, you’ll be happy wherever you end up. But if you’re really set on making it to your fantasy college, you can still find a way. Here are some tips to help you get there.
Only appeal the decision if you really have grounds to do so.
All students who didn’t get into their top choice schools think that the colleges made a mistake—so if we all appealed, the poor admissions officers would never get a break. If your best friend has similar credentials and got into Dartmouth University while you didn’t, don’t bug the school about it. But if you have a legitimate reason for appealing a decision, such as discovering that the school had incorrect information about your test scores, you might stand a chance. Some schools don’t allow appeals at all; check the school’s policies before doing anything, and think carefully about it—bugging the admissions office with an unwarranted appeal could kill your chances of ever getting in.
Start somewhere else and transfer.
For most students who don’t get into their first-choice school, it makes the most sense to simply attend another school, with the goal of transferring at a later date. After you start, you may not even want to switch schools anymore—but if you’re still pining away for your dream school, then research the transfer application process for your school of choice to see when you can reapply and make sure that all of the course credits you plan to take at your first school will transfer. Be sure to ace all your classes at your first school, and get to know your professors so that they can provide great recommendations for you. Though transfer admissions are more competitive than regular admissions, if you have a killer app, you’ll stand a good shot.
Consider doing a postgraduate year.
Some private and boarding schools around the country offer a “13th grade” to give students the chance to improve their academic records and take more challenging courses, become more involved in athletics, and make a smoother transition to the college atmosphere. Maine’s North Bridgton Academy for boys is the only school exclusively dedicated to the postgraduate year, but it is also an option at these boarding schools. By completing this transition year, you’ll have the chance to beef up your application and get another shot at your top school.
Do a “gap year” with a purpose.
It’s been a tradition in the U.K. and Australia for many years for students to take a year off before starting college, and it’s catching on here as well. If you aren’t enthusiastic about starting at another school next year, this could be a great option to gain new experiences and another shot at the college application process next year—just make sure you use your gap year well. Simply hanging out at home, working a low-wage job, or traveling abroad isn’t likely to impress colleges. But if you decide to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand, undergo a fascinating research project, or start your own successful business from scratch, the experience could change your life—and might help you win over the admissions officers next time around.