By Mjt16, via Wikimedia Commons
Whether it’s prom, college, or a job, rejection is never easy. Before finding out, you wonder and wait— dreams form, projections surface, and speculations abound. The expectations are palpable. With patient anticipation, you wait for your reward, for the months and years of preparation and work. Until the note comes back to your locker. Or until the letter arrives in the mail. And all it says is “No. Sorry.”
Rejection is brutal for its completeness—it’s seems so final.
I wish I could give you advice for finding a date to prom. But I don’t have access to a quantum computer, so I can’t run the calculations. But, I heard that CERN will take up the question now that they have found evidence of the Higgs Boson. So don’t fret.
College rejection is something that I can comment on, though. ’Tis the season for acceptance and rejection letters to start flowing out of college admission offices. If you have already completed the process and are waiting, then all you can do is wait at this point. But for those out there who are starting to apply or plan on applying soon, there are couple of things you can do to mitigate the rejection letters, which will inevitably arrive in your mailbox.
Apply to a lot of schools. Apply to a lot of schools. Apply to a lot of schools. Plenty of cliches and expressions (The wider the net…, Don’t put all your eggs…, Don’t count your chickens…) emphasize this idea for a reason—failure is inevitable so why not be smart and guard against it. So be smart and apply to as many schools as you can. I advise my students to apply to at least 10-15 schools. That way, they optimize their chances for success and minimize the effects of rejection. Don’t deceive yourself; rejection will happen, especially when applying to schools, so be smart.
Apply to a range of schools. Don’t apply to all top-tier schools and don’t apply to all lower-tier schools. Distribute your applications. Apply to a Harvard or MIT because you have nothing to lose but a little time (to complete the application) and a little money ($50 – $75). Although only a small portion (14-30%) of applicants are accepted to these schools, you should aim high. That’s why it’s a dream. You aim as high as you can, so that even if you fail to reach the summit of your aspirations, you will have traveled a great distance in trying to reach them. Conversely, don’t apply strictly to the Ivy league schools. Send applications to schools you are confident you can get into, but may not want to go to. It’s always good to have a plan C and D.
Apply to schools in different places. Some students want to stay where they are; others want to move to New York City or Los Angeles for school. The location consumes all other considerations, and they focus merely on the where they will spend the next two to six years. This is an important factor in choosing a school, but don’t let it overwhelm all other considerations. Look to other places too. Apply to schools near you, in your state, in other states, or even in other countries. Look for other places that you would like to live. Research different regions, and I am sure you will find many places that will enrich your learning.
Nothing is a sure bet, and I am not going to guarantee that you will get into a school if you follow these three pieces of advice. However, I can definitely say that if you do these things, your odds of getting into college will increase.
But what if you still don’t get into a school? First thing to do is take a step back and re-evaluate your plans. Stay positive and optimistic about school even though you may have to put off college for a year, which actually is not a terrible turn. A year not in college can be spent improving your test scores, rewriting your application essays, taking classes at a community college, or gaining valuable experience at a job or an internship. And don’t forget that there are schools with open enrollment so you might not even wait a full year before applying again.
Rejection is only hard when you don’t expect it. But if you plan well and anticipate these types of challenges, rejection can be easy to shrug off like a rainy day.
Rejection from prom is entirely different, though. That’s a tornado, hurricane, lightning storm, earthquake, and volcanic eruption leveled on your heart and mind all at once. But stay positive. You’ll find someone to go to prom with. Maybe you’ve been looking in the wrong place.