How to deal with not getting in

Posted by Timothy Laas-Nesbitt on Feb 3, 2017 10:00:00 AM
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By this time, many applicants to foreign universities will have gotten at least a few results back, possibly from their dream schools. And in an especially competitive application season, many will have received rejections and/or deferrals.

So… now what?

I won’t go into what to do when you get deferred here (just Google “deferred now what” and you’ll get useful links like this one). Instead, I want to give a few tips on how to deal with the difficult psychological aspects of getting “rejected.”

1) Don’t pretend it doesn’t suck

The first thing others might tell you is that it’s not the end of the world. And you might be inclined towards this position yourself. However, if you try too hard to play it cool, you might fall prey to a deadly and defeatist brand of apathy. Be pissed off, rage against the dying of the light, and, most importantly, harness your emotional reaction productively (see #4).

2) Some things are meant to be, others are not

Whether you’re religious or not, whether you believe in fate or not, at some point you have to resign yourself to the fact that what happened, happened. If it’s God’s plan, than surely it’s ultimately for the best. If you see the world through a secular lens, just remember that acceptance is the key to getting over something.

Go ahead and process your feelings (see #1), but always work towards acceptance of this new reality.

3) Be aware of the competition

Among Chinese students, less than 2% of Ivy League applicants get in. You’ll see the same statistics across Asia. And most of these applicants are have very high grades and test scores. Even for Americans, the admissions process is more competitive than ever. A few years ago, UWash was a safety school, but every year the number of applicants scales record heights. So don’t feel too bad – the admissions process is so competitive these days that it often comes down to either privilege or blind luck.

4) MOVE ON!!!

There’s not time to sit still in this world – and especially during admissions season! Above all, don’t lose hope if you still have work to do. The pros of applying early to US schools is that you hear back sooner and you usually have a higher chance of acceptance. The cons are that hearing back bad news from the oftentimes highly competitive application you sent in can be demoralizing just when you need to stay focused. Remember that you’ll get in somewhere if you keep at it and send in enough strong applications, so buckle down and finish it up. You’ll get there soon enough!

If all else fails, get help from those who've done it like gazillion times before.


Topics: US Applications, UK Applications, Best Practices

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