1. Gain Some Perspective
College admissions is a tough, grueling and competitive process. If you’ve been working your entire childhood and teenage years towards the lofty goal of attending Stanford or purchasing a Harvard sweatshirt, it can definitely feel soul crushing when you get rejected from your dream school(s). It’s important to arm yourself with stats - admissions rates, median scores and percentiles, etc - as well as some realistic inspiration.
This isn’t the end of the world or road. If you’re tough, smart, and persevering, then you likely want to accomplish great things. And rejection is just the start of that journey - learning how to handle it, and turn it into a strength will help you achieve far greater and incredible things.
2. Try to identify your (application) weaknesses
Even if you have perfect scores, grades, EC’s, there’s still no guarantee you’ll get into your dream schools. But sometimes, a little self evaluation goes a long way. Consulting with a college counselor is a great way to get a fresh pair of eyes and help you assess any weaknesses in your application, and how to diminish or disguise them. There are so many relatively inexpensive guides and resources out there. Try Empowerly's college counseling services - they’ll pair you up with a hand selected college counselor who can then review your application and any questions you have.
3. Apply to a wide net of safeties, targets, and reaches.
If you just received an ED rejection, then there’s still time to broaden your college choice list. Add a few more schools to your list. Not only is seeing an admissions letter a great boost of confidence, it can also unexpectedly open your eyes to other schools that may end up being a better fit based on factors you may not have considered before. I had my eyes and heart set on Columbia, but after visiting UC Berkeley, I realized this was now my new first choice - based on more affordable tuition, the large array of Nobel Laureate professors, the campus vibe and distance to home.
4. Consider a Gap Year
If it’s too late - consider taking a year to make yourself a stronger candidate. Whether that’s JC, an alternate year program, or something you construct on your own.
I’m pretty sure that I had reoccurring nightmares about getting rejected from every college on my list all of junior and senior year. Thankfully, that didn’t happen but if you are feeling unsure about the colleges on your acceptance list, there are alternatives. Even the president’s daughter just deferred her admissions to Harvard for a year to pursue a gap year. Spend a year learning, growing, and therefore, also strengthening your profile and then apply to college. There are so many programs and opportunities out there if you want some more structured roads, like volunteering or teaching English in foreign countries . Other’s have started their own companies, launched successful blogs, or even traveled the world spearheading social enterprises and micro-projects.
Colleges want to see passionate, intellectually curious individuals and nothing screams “passion” more than taking time to stretch and flex your innovative brain muscles.