It’s never fun to get bad news. Now that universities are making offers, it is unavoidable that they will also be sending out rejections to hopeful applicants. If you receive a rejection, especially if it’s the first decision you receive from a university, it can feel like a punch to the gut. How do you deal with the disappointment?


Here are some tips for moving forward and making the most out of the situation. 


  1. Don’t take it personally.


I know, I know. How can it not be personal? You’ve put yourself out there, and the university has decided you’re not good enough. But, wait. Is that really what happened? 


In truth, universities receive thousands of applications from amazing young people all over the world. They have limited space, and unfortunately cannot accept everyone who would be a good fit for the school. You might be the victim of math: there simply were not enough spaces available, even though YOU, as a person, are awesome.


  1. Validate your feelings.


While you try not to take the news personally, it is normal and understandable to feel disappointed in the situation. Acknowledge your disappointment and sadness so you can move forward well. If you ignore your emotions, you may feel even worse later. Rejection will happen more than once in your life — if this is the first time you’ve faced it, this is an opportunity to go through the process and move on. You will learn valuable skills for coping, and see that you are strong enough to come through a difficult situation.

  1. Improve your mood.


Before you look to move on, you will want to get yourself into a better headspace. Take some time off from thinking about applications, and do something you know will boost your mood. Get moving to increase your endorphins: hiking, playing sports, going for a walk, or dancing in your bedroom are some great options. Chill out and practice some mindfulness or meditation. Talk to a friend or family member who raises your spirits. Listen to uplifting music. Write in a journal. Anything healthy and positive that can get you feeling like your old self is a good bet!


  1. Look for the silver linings.


There are lots of clichés out there about doors closing and windows opening, or everything happening for a reason. Maybe the reason these clichés are so prevalent is because there is some truth to them. This rejection doesn’t define you, and it probably doesn’t even limit you. Despite your fears that your whole future depends on your university plans, most adults will tell you this simply isn’t true. Life is full of surprises, and where you will be in 20 years almost certainly isn’t decided by your undergrad destination. Now that you have one university’s decision, you can look more closely at your other options. What else is available to you? What great things do your other opportunities have to offer that this university didn’t? In all likelihood, you will have a great time and meet wonderful people and go on to do amazing things no matter which university (or other option) you choose after high school. If you’re struggling to see the other paths forward, talk to a family member or Guidance Counsellor for some perspective. 


Overall, rejection is a bummer. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge your worries, address your feelings, and find other great options for your future. If you don’t believe me, you can ask some of these people who also got rejected from their chosen universities: Barack Obama, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Hugh Jackman, Warren Buffett, and many many more. As you can see, university rejections didn’t stop them, and in many cases set them up for wildly successful futures. You are in excellent company.


*images sourced from Creative Commons