Applying for college is, no doubt, overwhelming.
Some students are so afraid of rejection that they procrastinate and miss important deadlines.
There are various reasons why your college application may be rejected, and often it has nothing to do with you personally.
Sure, rejection can hurt, but it can also teach you things about yourself, your life, and your future.
While most students have a top-choice school, applying to multiple schools you love is crucial to increase your chances of being accepted, especially when choosing prestigious schools with low acceptance rates.
Learn more about the importance of a great college application, why college applications get rejected, what to do if your application gets rejected, and where to find college planning specialists to help you get into the school of your dreams.
Why is a great college application important?
Your college application and essay give schools a chance to learn about who you are and what you plan to do in the future.
To increase your chances of being admitted into your top-choice school you want your application to stand out from other potential students.
Millions of college applications are submitted to colleges a year. Harvard alone receives 50,000-60,000 a year, while only accepting 1,000 to 2,000 students.
Tips to help your college application get noticed, include:
- Apply early
- Maintain a high GPA in high school
- Take advanced courses in high school
- Test high on the SAT and ACT
- Write a compelling personal statement
- Explain how you are a great fit for the school
- Obtain strong letters of recommendations
- Excel in one or two extracurricular activities
While excellent grades and test scores show that you’re responsible, hardworking, and motivated, many students get good grades, meaning grades alone are not enough to help you stand out.
Schools will notice if you can show your strength and dedication in a subject, sport, activity, charity, or employment. They want to admit students who they believe will succeed academically and beyond.
Showing your passion and experience in one area gives you a better chance of acceptance, perhaps even over other applicants with better GPAs. Most schools want their graduates to make a difference and create change in the world as a result of their education.
Why do college applications get rejected?
One of the most common reasons that college applications get rejected is because of low acceptance rates. Popular and Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale have extremely low acceptance rates, around 4%.
If you were rejected from a less prestigious school, there are a few common reasons that may explain why.
Grades and courses
If you received average or poor grades in high school, it likely affected the strength of your college application.
It’s also possible that you received excellent grades, but only in standard-level classes. Schools prefer to see students that have excelled with a challenging course load.
Most schools will put their minimum GPA preference on their website, so it’s best to research and plan prior to applying.
Before submitting your application and essay, be sure to use Spellcheck or Grammarly, proofread it, and ask a close friend or family member to review it.
Simple typos and mistakes can make your application appear sloppy, which is the opposite of what a prestigious school is looking for.
Many excellent students get turned away because they missed important deadlines.
Generally, students should begin applying to schools as soon as August 1 for the following fall enrollment period.
While deadlines are usually in November—and students should submit their applications as soon as possible—they will have until February to apply.
Not showing interest
Since schools receive so many applications each year, they want to ensure that the students they accept will actually enroll.
Some students get waitlisted or rejected because their acceptance quota has been met. If a student doesn’t register, that hurts the school and the student they turn away.
To show interest and involvement, apply early, visit the campus several times, and sign up for tours and events.
The way you present yourself on paper, on social media, and in-person is equally important.
Before applying for your schools of choice, clean up your social media. It’s both possible and common for school recruiters to search for you online, and certain posts and comments can make you look bad.
To ensure your online profiles don’t raise any red flags, avoid sensitive topics and heated debates that raise conflict or degrade others.
What to do if your application gets rejected?
If your college application gets rejected—try not to take it personally.
Unfortunately, rejection is a part of life. But it doesn’t need to hold you back from having a great future. Just because one school turns you away, doesn’t mean other schools you love will.
It could even be a blessing and allow you to find a school that is a better fit for your personality and goals.
Take a gap year
If you’re still determined to get into your top-choice school, you could always take a gap year and reapply later.
This gives you a year to focus on a job, internship, or activity that may help you stand out the next time you apply.
If taking a gap year isn’t an option, there is still a chance to reapply in the future, after attending another school, such as a community college.
Some students enroll in a smaller, lesser-known school, excel, and transfer to a state or even Ivy League school later on.
If you plan to transfer, maintain a high GPA, and do something unique or that shows dedication and motivation to increase your chances of acceptance.
Get enthusiastic about new schools
One rejection letter shouldn’t stop you from being excited about other schools.
There are many excellent schools to choose from, and you may discover that some are even a better fit for you than you thought.
We can help you plan your future
Filling out college applications can be confusing and challenging.
There is no need to be frustrated over your college application, complex terms, deadlines, or rejection letters when support is out there.
As a potential college student, you have access to teachers, guidance counselors, and college planning specialists.
With time and support, you can make your college application stand out and increase your chances of getting accepted into your top-choice schools.