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How To Handle Not Getting Accepted To College

by Tim Brunicardi on February 15, 2018

Rejection is a difficult life experience to deal with, especially when it means reframing how you thought you were going to spend the next several years of your life.

It's natural to be upset, confused and overwhelmed about not getting accepted to college. Here are a few things you can do to work through those emotions in a healthy way before you begin to think about what comes next in your life.

Give Yourself Time and Space to Be Disappointed

It's normal to be upset about this news. Rather than trying to hide or ignore your natural reaction, allow yourself to be upset for a few days. Recognize the feelings you're having so you can work through them.

Journaling about your feelings can be a helpful exercise to experience and move past a difficult time. It's also okay to cancel plans and stay in to spend some time alone if it feels right to you. It's unrealistic to think that you'll bounce back immediately after hearing this news, so allow yourself the space to be upset, and do what feels right to you.

Talk to the People You're Close With

Not getting accepted to college isn't an easy thing to deal with, and you shouldn't go it alone. In fact, when you're going through emotional hardship, the last thing you should do is keep all those feelings inside. Those emotions will build up over time and cause even more inner turmoil.

Share your struggles with the loved ones in your life; talking through your problems can help you figure out how to overcome them. This could mean opening up to a friend, parent, teacher or school counselor. While being vulnerable with your feelings can be hard and even scary, it's healthy to open up about them rather than keeping them inside and feeling ashamed.

Work It Out in a Healthy Way

not getting accepted to collegeTry to release your energy and disappointment in a healthy way. Consider taking a weekend away with friends, going to the gym more than usual or enjoying another productive act of self care that helps you destress and refocus.

Even a short walk outside or other way of spending time in nature can help your brain relax into a meditative state after it's been in high-stress mode for a few days. Be sure to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms that could be counterproductive or dangerous, like drugs and alcohol.

Turn Off Social Media

Social media shares a highly curated view of someone's life. People are less likely to post about difficult things they're experiencing, and more likely to share stories that make it seem like their lives are perfect. But no one's life is perfect.

For a short while, tune out of social media to avoid hearing about other people's admissions as you work through not getting accepted to college. Rather than focusing on other people's news or getting trapped into thinking that no one else has problems in life, focus on you. Think about what you want out of life and what steps you can take next to get there. 

Remember That Everyone Faces Failure Sometimes

Hundreds of the world's most successful people failed time and time again before they succeeded. Oprah Winfrey was fired as a Baltimore news anchor for being too emotionally invested in her reporting -- the quality that eventually led her to become a billionaire.

not getting accepted to college

Before he would go on to become one of the most renowned movie directors of all time, Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts multiple times. J.K. Rowling was living on welfare before the publication of her Harry Potter series.

These icons didn't let rejection and hardship stop them from fulfilling their true dreams. As you cope with not getting accepted into college, keep in mind that hardships and overcoming obstacles are part of life. Many people have overcome the problems you're facing -- look to them for inspiration in this difficult time.

Reflect on Why You Got Turned Down

After you've come to terms with not getting accepted to college, it's time to take a look at the reason(s). Review your applications with a friend or family member who you trust to take a critical look at your writing samples, test scores and community experience. Find the areas where you could improve, and work on them in case you want to reapply next semester.

For example, if you didn't take the ACT, spend several months prepping and take the test. Having high test scores can improve your odds of getting into college. If you notice that you don't have any extracurricular activities listed on your application, take some time to volunteer in your area to amp up your community involvement. 

Not getting accepted to college is a hard thing to go through, but it can be easier if you remember the tips above. After you've gone through the process of giving yourself time and space to be upset and reflect on the experience, you can begin thinking about how to move forward.

not getting accepted to college