What to Do if You Don’t Get Into Your Dream School

A step by step guide to face rejection for all you perfectionists out there



Flash forward to December, and you’re refreshing your email obsessively waiting for judgement day. Waiting for a decision from your dream school is absolutely agonizing, even more so when they don’t give you a specific date and say they will let you know by “mid-December.” Thanks to this ambiguous answer, I have to set aside two weeks of my life to be glued to my email and wait for the admissions office to get around to my application. I’ve already played this scenario out in my head and refreshed my admissions portal countless times. But what happens if you do not get in? Here is my step by step guide of what to do if you get rejected from your top choice school.

1. First things first– let all your emotions out. Scream, cry, talk about it. Print out a picture of the admissions officers and throw darts at it. Light their picture on fire. Go for an angry run. It’s not healthy to bottle up your emotions, so make sure to be as dramatic as possible just to make sure.

2. Remember that college admissions are totally unfair. Legacy kids, athletes, and kids on the “Dean’s Interest List” (meaning their parents are likely to donate to the school) have almost a 45% more likely chance of getting in over a regular applicant. So if you don’t play a sport or have rich, well educated parents, you are being cheated by the system.

3. Acceptance. This is an important step. Eat some ice cream and accept the fact of that you are not going to go to the school of your dreams. Crushing, I know. Make a list of everything you didn’t like about the school. I know this can be hard, but I’m sure you can find something. Go on Niche, and read all the one star reviews for the school. Honestly, read those before you apply if you haven’t already. Commiserate with your other rejectees. Find the other people who didn’t get in, and hang out so you can talk trash about the school. Share all of the things you put on your list of dislikes and convince yourself it would have been awful to go.

4. Get excited about other schools. Try to research other schools that you may be interested in, because there are actually a lot of amazing schools out there. I am actually cringing when I’m writing this, because I know that literally no one wants to have to scrape up a second choice school to get excited about. Worst comes to worst, transferring is an option. Though I’m not sure if that would be the best option, this is something that can soften the blow.

5.  Apply to other schools you found in step 5. CU Boulder, Occidental, University of Hawaii Hilo, and Sewanee are some pretty awesome schools to check out. Or if the rejection was so crushing you decided college is not for you, there are other options such as working with the Peace Corps, joining the Space Force, or traveling the world as a farmer (sounds random, but check out WWOOF.net, it’s legit.)


I wish everyone the best of luck as college decision day rolls around in December for everyone who did early decision or early action. I truly hope that no one has to use this guide (including myself, manifesting) and we all get into our dream schools. Good luck Raptors!