Battling a University Rejection? 5 Stories to Get Inspired

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 at 10:39 am

I was with my dad on the way home from one of my softball games when my brother called and said that he letter had come in the mail. I couldn’t get home fast enough, but I was terrified.

Admission Impossible - Creative commons photo by Flickr user David Morris

Creative commons photo by Flickr user David Morris

If you applied to study in the U.S. for next year, I’m sure you can relate to Jaime’s emotions while waiting for her admissions decision to arrive.  And if you’ve already received your letter, you might be able to relate to what she felt next:

I held the envelope up to the light and read the words “We regret to inform you.” At the time I was devastated…

Or you might relate to Thuy’s experience after receiving an acceptance letter from her dream school, the California College of the Arts, and realizing just being accepted might not be enough:

The amount of money I estimate I will need to pursue this two year MBA program is $100,000 … My family is not rich, so the cost of $100,000 is really a burden. … After I got their admission letter, I sent CCA an email to explain my financial difficulty and seek assistance from the school. At present, I am anxiously waiting for CCA’s response on any kind of financial aid they could offer.

We wish everyone could be accepted to their top choice school, and with enough financial aid to afford to go. And if you are one of the lucky ones, congratulations!  Leave a comment to share with others your tips for success.

But, if you are one of the many students who received a letter reading, “We regret to inform you,” or a nice fat admissions letter with no accompanying financial aid package, take heart.  Here are 5 stories to inspire you and show you that one admissions decision doesn’t have to make or break your future.

1) Yale’s Dean of Admissions tells the students he will reject this year that they don’t need him to succeed:

After years of experience, however, here is what I know, virtually to the point of certainty: almost nothing depends on exactly which strong college admits you. Everything depends on what you decide to do once you get to a strong college, and how well prepared you are to take advantage of the infinite opportunities you will find there.

Read more: Advice from Yale’s Dean of Admissions on Getting Rejected

2) Abhushan remembers getting rejected from his early decision school, and explains how he took a deep breath, reevaluated, and reapplied:

If you’re in that situation, don’t blame yourself. You’ve just gone through an example of how harsh the U.S. admissions process gets at times, given the huge application pool and limited space for incoming students. I know it is stressful and disappointing to have to start all over, and raise your hopes and optimism yet again. … [But] think, analyze the situation and keep MOVING FORWARD.

And, by the way, if you are still interested in what happened to my applications later, here’s the rest of the story. After I got rejected from Lafayette, I applied to a lot more schools (I would not like to share the exact figure). Got waitlisted into 6, accepted at 4. And, I finally decided to join the College of Wooster. I have never regretted my decision thus far.

Read more: Don’t Blame Yourself – Advice for Getting Through an Early Decision Rejection

3) Diana and Alex give the phrase “never give up” new meaning with their determination to succeed in the face of obstacles.

If you don’t think that hard work and tenacity can pay off in a big way, Diana’s story of finally realizing her dream of attending medical school will make you a believer:

So, in 2010, four years after her first attempt, Diana applied to the same medical school as before. She had confidence, experience and credibility from her four years of hard work; surely this was it. … Her application was rejected. For the second time. Diana was devastated, and she told me that this time she thought it was time to give up.

But meanwhile, Diana’s hard work at the hospital had caught the attention of three medical interns from the University of Michigan. Impressed by her enthusiasm, knowledge and ability to innovate in the face of obstacles, they persuaded her to apply for medical school at the University of Michigan. This time, she was accepted.

Read more: The Story That Inspired Me to Move Forward

Not convinced? Alex was initially told by American University he was not eligible to apply for their graduate program because his credentials did not meet their requirements.  He completed an extra year of undergrad to prepare, and then tackled the final challenge, the GRE:

I scheduled an exam for the first time on November 17, 2009. I underestimated it. Guess what? I failed it! … Committed not to make the same mistake twice, I decided to do it again, only this time I was prepared to work. I sacrificed my December holiday, bought three textbooks and studied like my life depended on it. …

The day arrived. I did the test and posted another mediocre score. I was utterly disappointed. … I realized all along I had focused on not failing when I should have been resolving to succeed. … Backed by an unwavering winning mindset, I intensified my studying plan and put more hours into mastering the basics.

On January 19, 2010, I took the test for the third time. I was nervous again, but this time I liked it, I knew I was on to something greater. Guess what, I passed the darn test. And a few months later, I got my acceptance letter from AU.

Read more: Piece by Piece I Rise With the Times

4) Growing up in a war torn country, and battling his own internal demons, Homayoon hasn’t yet realized his dream of studying in the U.S., but he has a plan:

When I got 510 in TOEFL test and 4.0 in writing skill in March 2010, I was discouraged because I realized that most of colleges and universities in the U.S. require more than 550. … In developed countries, young people my age are authors, inventors and have big businesses, but unfortunately, due to decades of war and poverty in our country and many other personal weaknesses, I cannot even write a good college essay.

“If you don’t, who? If not now, when?” is a wonderful saying that encouraged me to open a new window and set achievable goals for obtaining my Master’s degree. For me, I decided this time that more than anything else, I will put my all efforts together on TOEFL and then on how to get admission for a Master’s program, how to get a scholarship and how to plan, manage and implement these promises which I made to myself.

Read more: A Plan to Overcome the Challenges

5) Eloquent and accomplished, Arwa and Amna prove that you don’t HAVE to study abroad to find success:

Amna is 27-years-old and pursuing an advanced degree in English literature and applied linguistics at Peshawar University.

“Good education is the backbone of a good life – it is as important as breathing is for any living beings,” she says. “It facilitates you to live with respect in society and enjoy appreciation; have a good lifestyle; and it also provides an opportunity to improve the social flaws existing in your society.”

Read more: Don’t Study in the US (or, How to Make an Informed Choice)

And finally, remember Jaime, from the beginning of this article?  She got rejected from her dream school.  But that’s not the end of her story:

I’m not really the kind of person who believes in fate, but looking back I’m happy I ended up at Syracuse- a school that was definitely not my first choice. I eventually got past being upset and realized that sometimes you just have to make the best of the situation at hand. There is more than one path in life.

Do you have advice for students facing rejection this year? Have you been through this experience? Let us know in the comments!

12 Responses to “Battling a University Rejection? 5 Stories to Get Inspired”

  1. UmerSultan says:

    Very nice article. Thanks for writing on this subject.

  2. [...] for anyone whose university admissions decisions didn’t turn out as they might have hoped (Read: Battling a University Rejection? 5 Stories to Get Inspired).  But what if you’re facing the opposite situation? Acceptance letters (Creative commons photo [...]

  3. Anna says:

    This is a great article! I went through these experiences a year ago but I remember what I felt and can relate to what students say here.

  4. Excellent article. I was crushed when I was rejected from Princeton years ago. Looking back, it was all for the best. I thought I would only be considered “smart” if I went to Princeton, but being rejected taught me to believe in myself, not the name of a college. I went to Dartmouth and met my husband there. I’ve learned that education is about so much more than what happens in the classroom, and college rejection is not about ability or future success. That is up to the individual. I actually gave a speech about this recently – the link is below. Hope it helps. My speech on rejection:
    http://cwlwebcast.stream57.com/integration/auth.aspx?EnrollmentKey=APK3217737198254435b09e2d115c703efa

  5. Kret says:

    Thank you for writing this…I just got a rejection letter yesterday and I seriously thought I was going to hurt myself because I was SO devastated! I briefly thought I was alone and no one understood because they all said…”it’s ok, no big deal, etc.” Reading this gave me some inspiration and strength to stop feeling sorry for myself, pick up and drive on…Thank You!

  6. John in Newfoundland says:

    Remember: Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard as did a whole list of similarly successful people.

  7. Vanessa says:

    We don’t have to get to a big or prestigious school to be great. We have to keep on believing to ourselves so we can be great. Thanks for this motivational article!

  8. Oumar koulohogon says:

    Very important article! A friend of mine was about to give up just because he didn’t succed his exam. I’ll pass him this link.

  9. Incredibly depressed 20 year old says:

    I’ve been thinking about ways to end my life if I’m rejected again. I was thinking about driving my car full speed off of a ravine, slashing my wrists or poisoning myself. Life hasn’t gotten any better since the first batch of rejections nearly a year ago.

    • Jessica Stahl says:

      I really hope you’re kidding. It’s never the end of the world to be rejected, just the end of one plan. And it certainly isn’t the end of your life. If you’re seriously having suicidal thoughts, please take advantage of resources out there to help. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ among others.

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