Seniors: Moving on from a Denial


There are many reasons a student may receive a denial letter. The application process is all about you and showing colleges who you are but the decision process is often more about the colleges and their priorities. Don’t take it personally. You weren’t denied— your application was. Probably the last thing you want to hear is that it’s important to learn to deal with rejection, but it is a valuable life lesson. Life isn’t fair and neither is the college admission process. The majority of students who apply to selective colleges are qualified to attend, but there simply isn’t room.

If you have been denied at a college on your list, let yourself feel disappointed. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Talk with your parents and friends about it— or not. Post your rejection letter on the wall of shame— or not. The choice is yours. Where you have been accepted or denied is your business and no one else’s unless you choose to share that information. And don’t worry that you may have disappointed your parents, teachers, or others in your life. They want what is best for you, which is to move on and be happy about the choices you do have. So allow yourself to feel sad, but don’t wallow in feelings of disappointment for too long. Move on. Now you get to make a choice among the schools that said yes. 


Next steps: Denied Early Admission

What can students do if they are denied admission under early decision, early action, or restrictive early action? If you are denied under ED, EA, or REA, this decision is final and you will not be reconsidered. You cannot reapply for consideration under a regular decision plan. A denial under an early plan may seem harsh, coming at this time of year, right around the holidays. But accept it as valuable guidance. The school is sending you a strong signal early on that you’re not in the running and will be best served by placing your attention elsewhere— on your applications to the other wonderful schools on your list. So, first and foremost, proceed with completing your applications to the other schools on your list. Move on and let yourself get excited about these other schools! Remember, too, as we cautioned yesterday, to be in close touch with your teachers and counselors who are writing your recommendations before the winter break.  Be sure all your recommenders are prepared to send out more letters to the remaining schools on your list before school lets out for the holidays. A further note: We are sometimes asked whether a student who has been denied ED and has another school high on their list that offers two rounds of ED may apply for that second round.