So reading about how to cope with college rejection is probably not something you want to be reading about if you’re just starting out applying abroad, but it is good to keep the following things in mind even as you deal with the stress of the application process. Almost everyone I know(barring like two outliers) got rejected from one or more of their dream schools. Most got rejected from all of their top choices and settled for schools they initially thought were second tier. I know a few people who got rejected from literally every foreign school they applied to.
For me, I wanted to go to Stanford for as long as I could remember. By the time I was four, my sister was already a second-year student and my brother had just enrolled there. About the same time I learned how to read, I decided that when I grew up I wanted to go to Stanford. Growing up, there were Stanford posters around the house. Once, my sister brought home a Stanford Kempo hoodie with my name on it.
I got my Stanford rejection letter one morning while my family and I were staying at our house in Montecito. When we got back to Metro Manila I took down the Stanford track and field shirt I hung up on my wall and gave it away. There aren’t sufficient words to describe the disappointment I felt. To have something you wanted your whole life be taken away from you is more than saddening. It makes you feel empty, like everything you’ve worked for your whole life amounted to nothing, like you are both worthless and worth less than your siblings whom you held in such high esteem.
On that same day, I got my rejection from Amherst as well. The day before, I got my rejection letter from UC Berkeley. A week later I got my rejection letters from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell and got waitlisted at UPenn (then subsequently got rejected about a month later).
Whether you are about to start applying abroad, in the middle of the process, or have just finished the process and are not happy with the results, one thing you must do is divorce your perception of your worth from the schools you want to attend. Your worth as a high school graduate is not predicated on what your results letter says on decision day. Understand that everything you accomplished within the process of applying, be it becoming president of a club, organizing a unique outreach program, or something as simple as improving your grades and SAT score are all valuable both intrinsically and in that getting there forced you to grow as a person.
How do you get over college rejection?
Firstly, what has definitely worked for me is staying productive. This can help you keep your mind off the sadness that you feel. What I would say, however, is that you shouldn’t push that disappointment away. You should embrace it, use it to fuel you. Do your best to prove admissions officers wrong. Improve your craft, get an internship(maybe one at edukasyon.ph), read a bunch of books or even write a book if you want to. You’re about to embark on the start of your adult life and the world is your ceiling – don’t let the fact that you’re not going to your dream school stop you from being invincible. That’s the mentality I’ve had since getting my rejection letters and so far I haven’t looked back.
Secondly, try to have fun. If you end up going to a local school, you have a five-month summer. If you end up going to one of your safety schools abroad, your summer is even longer. Let loose! You just graduated from high school bro. Go on a road trip with your friends to EK or tags, go to concerts, play Overwatch, enjoy life(but be responsible). You’ll have a lot of time on your hands, so balance your fun with your productivity.
Thirdly, don’t get too downed about the reality. I’m going to the University of British Columbia, a school I initially thought was not elite enough for me. But after being forced to cope with that reality, I’ve come to realize that the school is beautiful, my program is wonderful, and Vancouver is a city that is probably safer than any of the cities my dream schools were located in. The schools you do end up going to will likely provide a fantastic experience that is at least equal to and possibly greater than the experience you thought you would have had at your dream schools.
Ultimately, college is what you make of it. You can succeed anywhere if you work hard and smart enough. The key is to not let college rejection make you a bitter person, but rather the best person you can be.