When I started the college application process last summer, I already knew which school I wanted to go to: The University of Michigan. I have made this school my top choice, dream school some would say, since freshmen year of high school. It has everything I could have asked for in a college. It has some amazing professors, an impressive premed program, a great school spirit environment, and a beautiful campus. However, it has a 22% acceptance rate. My anticipation for the acceptance letter caused me so much anxiety. When I finally got my letter in January, it said my decision was postponed to the regular decision pool, a fancy way of saying I got deferred. I continued opening my portal once a week to see updates on my application until I finally got my rejection letter. It was a brutal one too saying “We feel your talents would be best used elsewhere.” I didn’t cry, although I was pretty close to it. A couple of my friends had mental breakdowns when they got rejected from their dream schools. Others felt discouraged. I was upset for what I would say was a couple of months. And the cycle started over again when I got waitlisted at UCSB and rejected from UCSD, except this time I felt better because a small part of me was braced for it.
Does a college rejection mean you are a bad student? No. Does it mean that you are not qualified enough? Probably not. When I received my UM rejection letter, I kept thinking about what I could have done. I could have done more internships. I should have participated more in school. I should have run for student office to display leadership skills. In reality, I should have realized that the decision process is so unpredictable and there are so many aspects that go into making a decision on an application. You may be the perfect student on paper, but the admissions officers may think the school is not the right fit for you. Once you hit submit for your college applications it is important to understand that everything is now out of your hands. If you get rejected, it does not mean you are not smart enough for the school.
It is important to understand that if your dream school is one of the extremely elite institutions with a 10% acceptance rate, there is a chance you will not get in, and you should be prepared for that. It does not matter that your application is perfect. A lot of students have a perfect application. So do not be like me, who had high hopes for my dream school. Rejection is redirection and if you go into the process with a grain of salt, you will not be as disappointed.