How to Deal With not Getting Into Your First Choice School

If you’re reading this because you didn’t get into your first choice college, we’re really sorry. That sucks. You probably put a ton of effort into everything from your grades to your essay to your extracurriculars to show that you deserved a spot. If you’re feeling lost about what to do next, there are some tried and true ways to deal with this kind of rejection you might want to try.


Something really crappy just happened to you. The future you envisioned for yourself isn’t going to happen just as you planned, and not only is that upsetting, it’s scary. Give yourself a few days to eat marshmallow fluff and cry. You need to get through those initial negative emotions if you ever want to move on and be happy at a new place.

Forget About the Whole

Focus on what your first choice school offered that specifically attracted you. Was it their small class sizes? Maybe it was their killer engineering program? Did you like the teaching style? Whatever you liked about the institution, odds are you can find it someplace else. It might not look exactly like you thought it would, but focusing on the individual qualities of your first choice will make them catch your eye when you look at other schools.

Be Positive About Admissions You DID Get

Just because you didn’t get into one school doesn’t mean you didn’t get into others. It’ll make you feel better to read those admissions letters. Look at all the good things the schools have to offer and get excited about these new opportunities. Remember, that’s what they are. It’s possible you didn’t research your backups as much as you did your first choice, and now’s the time to change that. If you didn’t get into to Yale University, you probably got into some other wonderful schools. Start looking at their noteworthy alumni. Contact their admissions office to see if there’s an accepted students day anytime soon. Look at their extracurriculars and housing. All of these things will take your mind off of the place that said, “No.”

Consider Capacity

When wracking your brain to figure out why you weren’t accepted to your first choice, remember a simple fact: there probably wasn’t room. Unless you’re trying to get an online project management degree, classrooms and campuses can only fit so many people. It could be that you were utterly qualified, but there just wasn’t room. In this case, you could’ve missed out because of any number of minuscule factors. Don’t let this rejection you really know nothing about harm your self-worth.

Think About Transferring

At the end of the day, if you know you’ll only be happy when your college admissions results read “Yes” from your first choice, think about transferring. College grades mean a lot more than high school grades, so if you kill it your first few semesters at a backup school, there could be hope for you to transfer into your dream school at a later date. Check transfer rates before you commit to this idea, but a lot of people find their way in this way instead of more direct routes.