Ways to Cope With College Rejections

Anjali Suva, Senior Staff Writer

The day has finally arrived. You check your email obsessively, refreshing your applicant portal until a notification pops up. You click on it with bated breath — only to find a crushing rejection. While this experience is undoubtedly disheartening, to say the least, coping with college rejections doesn’t have to be daunting.


“It’s not about the acceptance or the denial — it’s about how you respond to it,” said Mr. Taylor, a teacher familiar with the stressful college admissions process.


Have a Good Cry


It’s important to acknowledge your emotions before overcoming your rejection. Take a deep breath and let a few tears out. Sob into your pillow if you must. Crying will help you release oxytocin and endorphins — hormones that boost feelings of well-being. It will also help you avoid bottling up negative feelings, which can lead to unhealthy self-deprecation. 


Go for a Run 


Rejection can bring about a flurry of intense emotions, including frustration and anger. A healthy outlet for these sentiments is exercise, which releases stress-relieving endorphins and reduces the anxiety that comes with the pressure of the future. Running also provides you time with your thoughts away from family members or social media. Rather than passively dwelling on your feelings, physical activity can channel them into something beneficial.  


Talk to Someone You Trust


Oftentimes, your perspective can be limiting. Speaking to another person — whether it’s someone who recently experienced college rejections or an older adult — can provide comfort and guidance to move forward. Such a conversation can not only place the rejection into perspective but also validate your emotions. 


“My hope [for students] is for them to get to a place where they can look back and say, ‘That sucks, I was upset, I was disappointed, but I wouldn’t change anything because I got to a place so perfect for me that if I changed anything, I might not be here.” said Mr. Taylor. 


Research Your Accepted Colleges 


Getting excited about potential future opportunities is key to moving on. By searching through their websites or speaking to alumni, you can find opportunities to thrive through the colleges you can attend. Look into specific programs that interest you, intriguing professors, unique clubs on campus, or unusual school traditions. As hard as it is to accept that the school may not be your first choice, it will likely match you better in the long run.


“Just because you think a campus is the best fit for you doesn’t mean that is the case so wherever you end up, I think you should just make the most out of it,” said class of ‘22 alumna Esther Chu.


While these tips won’t soften the initial blow of rejection, they are a path to gradual acceptance. Rejection is inevitable, and the college admissions process is no exception. Rather than dwelling on what-ifs, live in the present and look to the future to turn your rejection into redirection. 


“Wherever you go, you’ll excel because what matters more are the choices you made within your control,” said Weibo Zhang, an alumnus from the class of 2022.