Sloane was devastated. She had followed all the rules—applying to colleges she could realistically get into, meeting all deadlines, following application instructions, touring the campus, and arranging for an interview with the admissions office. She studied hard, raised her SATs, and got great letters of recommendation from her teachers, one of whom was even an alumnus. She fell in love with the school, its small ivy-covered campus, modern dorms, new theater, and friendly students; it was the answer to every one of her academic and extracurricular aspirations. Then one day in April, a skinny envelope arrived, "Dear Sloane, We regret to inform you..."
Rejection hurts, no doubt about it. Especially if it's fueled by pressure from your friends, your parents, and the community when applying to colleges. But what's important to keep in mind is that your application to attend a specific college in a specific year was evaluated and rejected, not your worth as a human being. The truth is getting accepted to any school is driven by what's happening at the college and the marketplace and may have much less to do with your credentials than you would ever imagine. It's about where you fit in best in terms of making an impact on that college community. It's about luck. You are no more a "loser" than you were the day before you found out the sad news.
If you are ever faced with Sloane's situation, allow yourself a day to feel sorry for yourself and grieve for what might have been. Then get up the next day and evaluate the facts. There are many more students applying to colleges than ever before. That means colleges have a much harder time choosing the candidates they finally accept than they did when your parents went to school.
Sometimes admissions committees pass on students with great qualifications in favor of others whom they feel will be a better fit for their college. Although it may feel like it, being rejected does not mean you're not as good or as smart as other people. Learning to cope with rejection is an important life lesson. You have to feel the disappointment, talk about it, and work through it.
When applying to colleges, try to put that dream school out of your head and analyze your options. What do you need to do to get where you want to be? What's the reason and motivation for you to go to college? Which college situation will give you the best leg up in the career you want? If you absolutely are not ready to give up on your dream school, give them a call in August to see if a spot has opened (after, of course, putting a deposit at a college that has accepted you).
If a school is expecting 2,000 students and 1,750 show up, they might be open to taking students. You might also check to see when your dream school will be accepting applications for the spring and what their transfer policy is. If you perform well at a community college for a semester, maybe you'll have another opportunity. Life is full of surprises, challenges, and disappointments.
How you handle them determines what you're made of and how successful you will be. This rejection is not about something you're lacking or something you didn't do. Just remember, being the biggest success you can be is the best revenge.