This post originally appeared on the Accepted blog.
For some, the new year is a time for hearing good admissions news; but for others, 2017 may be off to a grim start. If you’ve received a rejection letter from your target school (or – sigh – from all your target schools), then you may be feeling more doom and less hopeful for the coming year.
It’s hard to get into grad school – harder now than ever before, with more applicants vying for those top spots than in recent years. The blow can be particularly brutal if you scored interviews or made it to the waitlist – if you came this close to getting in – and then received that fateful letter after your hopes had been so high.
Time for a reality check!
It’s okay to be bummed, but let’s try not to make bad news worse than it has to be. Your career goals have not been demolished. No one has told you that you’ll never be a (fill in the blank – doctor/lawyer/teacher/consultant/engineer). This rejection may very well delay or modify a career dream, but the only way it can derail you completely is if you let it do that.
Instead, vent as much as you need to, and then start moving on. Here are three ways you can do that:
1. Revise your plans.
Was going to grad school really the only path to achieving your dreams? Did grad school need to happen now?
If grad school truly wasn’t an option any more, what would you do? Long-term plans are important, but it’s important to grow every day, in some way, and to avoid staking your entire future on one major event (i.e., getting into graduate school).
What are short-term goals you want to achieve at work and in your personal life – job-related, fitness, family, friends, hobbies, spirituality? Don’t just give lip service to these things; think them through, in part because they may be crucial to the next strategy.
2. Reapply to top-choice and other programs.
More and more applicants these days are reapplicants – people who didn’t give up. And guess what? Reapplicants are more likely to get in than those in the general pool. Why? Usually because reapplicants represent a more dedicated, focused, “serious” group. They know they want to get into a particular school, they know why, and they (usually) know what it takes and have worked hard to achieve it.
So start thinking about which programs you really want to focus on next time, and start building an application that will turn a disappointing “no” into a triumphant “yes.”
Also, be willing to cast a wider net if you didn’t get at least some positive results (e.g., interviews) overall.
3. Keep things in perspective.
Getting rejected from grad school is the pits. But we promise, it is NOT the worst thing in the world! Through this experience, you’ll learn loads about yourself: you’ll re-prioritize your goals, adjust your timeline, gain more experience on the job, take additional classes, network with more people, and overall, enrich your life so that when you apply next year or when you decide to head out on a different career path, you’ll be more prepared and more successful.
These tips will help you keep perspective, even when the news you get isn’t the news you want. And if reapplication is your answer, then make sure you get in touch – Accepted is here to help you learn from your mistakes and create a take 2 application that will get you IN.
About Linda Abraham:
Accepted.com has guided thousands of applicants to acceptances at top universities since 1994 – they know what works and what doesn’t, so follow Linda Abraham on Google+ and contact Accepted to get started or visit Accepted.com for all your admissions consulting needs today!
Photo at top courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Jaiz Anuar Yeop Johari