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If I get rejected

By Zaria Smalls - Harvard University

Before you open the college’s decision letter, take a minute to think about the worst case scenario and how you would respond: What if I get rejected? In this article, we will discuss the dos and don’ts of rejection.

If I get rejected…

There is one part of the college process that no one wants to think about: What happens if I get rejected? The unfortunate truth is that rejection often makes a monster out of us. However, if we plan for the worst — but expect the best — we never have to enter this cycle. Remember these two things and we can make the college process a safe place for everyone:

The college process is not a competition.

Often, we feel that getting into our top college means we have to beat out the person sitting next to us. That is not how the college process works. Every admissions officer looks to build a community of people who will thrive and grow. In the name of competition, we would mold and shape ourselves to fit the rubric of what we want to achieve without realizing that a college is meant to be a good fit for you, not that you need to be a good fit for that college.

I have been a part of speech team for three years. At first, I thought the only way to succeed is to out perform my fellow competitors. However, my success depended on how well I personally did. It depended on whether I embodied my piece’s character. Once I started focusing on myself, my performances were stronger.

With that being said, admissions officers will recognize you for your talents and strengths. Focus on yourself and you will find the right college.

You are not entitled to anything.

You are not entitled to a spot at a school because you are talented. Spots are given and granted, but can never be assumed. The college application process is never a guarantee. I say this so that you won’t feel appalled at a rejection and more importantly that you don’t think someone else can take “your spot” — it was never yours anyways.

Secondly, don’t negate or diminish the success and hard work of a fellow student because you are bitter about your own position. There is no such thing as “You only got into that college because you are [insert race here]/good at [insert sport here]/[insert legacy here] etc.” As stated before, admissions officers accept applicants that they think will improve the existing community. So: do not be upset with a student whose strengths, talents and qualities are recognized by the college.

*So what happens if we get rejected? *

Well, we take the news with a grain of salt, pick ourselves up and continue on with our dreams because college is not the end all be all. In fact, college is the beginning and does not define the rest of your life course. Think of all the people who never went to college and became extremely successful (like Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney and Ellen DeGeneres); think of all the people who went to a great college and haven’t done much else.

The grades you received, the extracurriculars in which you participated, the sports for which you have trained, and community service hours worked still exist. Be proud of all your hard work. You created and achieved all of the wonderful things on your college application through your own volition.

Thus, you can continue to create wonderful experiences and opportunities wherever you go. The dedication and effort you put in is what dictates your life, not your college. The most important thing about college is taking the schooling, the experience, and skills you learned and using these skills in the rest of your life, making these skills applicable and transferable. If you do that correctly, you can go far in life, but the application is up to us.