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What to Do If You Don’t Get Into Your First Choice College

Getting a rejection letter from a college you worked so hard applying for is disappointing, to say the least. It is okay to feel disappointed. You have probably been daydreaming about life at your top choice school, but don’t dwell on this feeling of dread for long. There may be many opportunities ahead.

It won’t help to try to figure out why you were not accepted. There are so many factors. Chances are, your GPA, essays, and other elements of your application were fine. Admissions systems are complex and colleges can only bring in a certain number of students each semester.

Think About What to Do Next

Choosing a college that’s not your first choice may not be what you expected. Still, you should start thinking about what it would be like to attend. Perhaps there are in-person and online programs to consider. Start listing the pros and cons of each of your options and you can hone in on what your next move is going to be. Decide what is most important; you may go from obsessing about what is a sports management degree to pursuing a program in accounting, science, or psychology.

Working on second-choice applications may be smart if you don’t get into Yale University. You want to keep your options as open as possible. Try going for schools with rolling admission policies. They keep reviewing and accepting applications on a continual basis or at least until all available spots are filled. Some schools accept late applications or run their admissions year-round.

Consider Your Alternatives

There may be many, many schools with programs that apply to your interests and goals. Even a two-year school may be feasible. If one is nearby, you may have extra time with high school friends, and many community colleges are inexpensive or even free. In many cases, two-year schools are affiliated with state colleges, which may accept you as a transfer student after graduation.

Don’t Feel Judged

When the rejection letter comes in the mail, do not consider it a personal judgment. Admissions offices use many criteria to decide who to accept. They may be looking for people from certain cities, with certain volunteer, extracurricular, or subject experience. There are often thousands of applications sent to any given school.

In addition, think about why you wanted to go to that first school of choice. Logic will help you decide whether it was the location, program, or other qualities that made you feel connected. Soon, you may find other schools with similar attributes. If you’re rejected, the worst thing to do is feel hopeless, because there are many options to consider besides one school.