Applying to colleges and waiting for that acceptance letter is arguably the most anxiety-inducing time in a high school senior’s life. In that period between submitting your applications and receiving the responses, it’s not unusual to feel a wide spectrum of emotions—from nervous excitement to extreme impatience. For some, a celebration ensues when the news of an acceptance to their dream school arrives, especially after years of attending open houses and stocking up on collegiate apparel. For others, however, the decision might not be the one they were hoping for when they are rejected from the school they’ve set their sights on since freshman year. The good news? Even if your plans don’t work out the way you always envisioned, you might just end up being surprised at how happy you are at a different university. If you’re currently struggling with news you’ve received or even just worried about the future, keep reading to learn how five students dealt with rejection from college and how they made it work in the long run.
Without this university, I wouldn’t have found some of my best friends.
“My dream school has been NYU since freshman year in high school. Everything about it felt almost too perfect—the city, the media and culture program I applied for, and its campus life was more than anything I could ever dreamt of. After doing almost everything I could do to get in—even reaching out to friends of family friends that worked for their admissions—I got waitlisted and was devastated for a month. While still having my hopes up that I could possibly get off the waitlist, I decided to attend The George Washington University in D.C. in the meantime. It was my second choice—I loved the urban campus and its student life seemed exciting. After attending GW for three semesters, I realized that I was definitely happy here. Without this university, I wouldn’t have found some of my best friends or realized I wanted to pursue a women’s studies degree instead of journalism. I also realized after interning in New York City this past summer that I didn’t want to attend school in NY, but that I just wanted to live and work there, making my decision to go to a D.C. school more than worth it.”– Natalie Giesel, George Washington University class of 2020
It actually led me to make a choice that, in the long run, was better for myself.
“Villanova was my dream school.. I ended up getting waitlisted after applying early, and it felt horrible. I still thought I had a chance, so I tried getting into contact with as many people at Villanova as I could. Even after all of that, I was put on another waitlist where I would have heard the decision over the summer. It was devastating to me. In the end, I decided to go to Boston University, and after spending a semester on campus I ended up realizing that I was at the best place I could possibly be. I think part of the reason that I wanted to go to Villanova so badly was because so many kids in my class were going and because it was still pretty close to home. Although, it did stop me from looking at the other schools I got accepted to. I realized that not getting into my dream school wasn’t the end of the world and it actually led me to make a choice that, in the long run, was better for myself. Not getting into Villanova taught me to always look at all my options.” — Nicole DeMarco, Boston University class of 2020
I put on my brave face and reminded myself that just because they didn’t accept me doesn’t mean I’m not good.
“Originally, I was hoping to attend North Carolina A&T University. I wanted to go because it was one of the top historically black colleges and universities for journalism and produced so many journalists that I looked up to, such as Terrence J from 106 & Park. When I was rejected from my dream school, I was heartbroken. It was hard because even though I got accepted to a lot of other colleges, I didn’t get into the one I wanted. My other choices were state and city schools (CUNY and SUNY in New York), so after being rejected from my first choice, I started to reconsider my options. Eventually, I realized being in the city was great for my career—there are so many opportunities and it was so much less expensive! After evaluating the situation and my choices, I put on my brave face and reminded myself that just because they didn’t accept me doesn’t mean I’m not good. Attending a state school actually ended up working out in my favor. I started applying for writing positions and because I lived in the city, editors would send me on interviews and to shows—which really built my résumé and my experience. Not going away to college in North Carolina was one of the best decisions I could have made. I realized that I don’t need a fancy university on my résumé to be successful.” — Náosha Gregg, CUNY Kingsborough class of 2018
In the end, I was so relieved.
“I applied to Duke early decision and wasn’t accepted. At the time, I was devastated, but I also loved Boston University—it was the only other place that I could see myself at. In the end, I am was relieved that I came to BU. I switched from a bio major to film and TV, and there is no chance that I would have had that kind of academic flexibility at Duke. Moreover, I studied abroad twice while at BU. Those two semesters were some of my most formative college experiences. Without attending a global school like BU, I probably wouldn’t have had those opportunities. BU allowed me to intern in two different cities on two different continents in the entertainment field. Without that résumé value and experience, walking into Hollywood after graduation would be an entirely different experience.”— Laura Burvill, Boston University class of 2018
I’ve learned that you can cultivate the resources at any university into being what you need to pursue your passions and dreams.
“I go to Montclair State University, and after my sophomore year, I felt like I hadn’t found a space at my school where I was surrounded by like-minded people. My major also seemed like it was limiting my ability to fully explore everything I was interested in. I applied to my dream school, NYU, and tried to get into their individualized study program. After I was rejected, I was devastated and almost left Montclair because I couldn’t see myself continuing where I was. Over the fall semester, I met with countless faculty members and was able to take more classes that were geared toward my interests. I also got really invested in my school newspaper. Looking back at my sophomore year, I think that I wanted to leave because I didn’t want to put myself out there and try new things. I now have a solid community of ambitious students around me that I’m excited to graduate with. I feel like I’ve learned that you can cultivate the resources at any university into being what you need to pursue your passions and dreams.” — Dominique Evans, Montclair State University, class of 2019
Did dealing with rejection from colleges end up working out for you in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo by @nuriya_saifulina.