I Didn’t Get In! Dealing with Grad School Rejection

Take a vacation? Learn to cook? See the world? Really, if I were you, I would try my best to put a positive spin on what many might deem as “dream-crushing.” Why? Because graduate schools will still be there next year and the year after that. Not even the Mayans could stop them from admitting new students. If you’re truly interested in how to get into grad school, then you’ll only be more prepared come next admissions cycle.

grad school rejection - image by Magoosh


What to do when all your grad school applications are rejected?

Here on the GRE blog, our specialty is coaching the GRE. Life counseling may fall slightly out of our purview, but we’ve all tried and failed at things we had greatly aspired to succeed in. The truth is, you pick yourself up and keep going. There are plenty of motivational posters (of the variety your middle school had), to remind you to work hard, not give up, keep your chin up, etc. Get past the cheese and pick one to make your motivator. Think of it this way: you have insight into what kind of candidate doesn’t get accepted, and you’ve now got a 8-10 months to make yourself the kind of candidate that does get accepted!

Not that it’s always so cut and dry, but you should do what you can. Spend the next 8 months fostering relationships with professors, working on independent research, and of course, our favorite, studying for the GRE. 🙂 Peruse the GRE forums and see the profiles of folks who got in and those who didn’t. That will also give you a better picture of where you stand in the crowd.

There’s a negative connotation to reapplying to schools that I believe is misleading. The belief is that admissions don’t want to see the same candidate year after year. I agree with that. I disagree that you have to be the same candidate. Wait! I’m not saying change your identity. Admissions isn’t the mob. I’m saying do everything you can to enhance your application. I mean you do want to get into a life-changing program, don’t you? Swallow the tough pill that you simply weren’t the candidate the program was looking for. Then do something about it.


Was I rejected because of my GRE score?

As for my expertise… You might also be asking yourself the related question: how much of a factor was my GRE score?

Believe it or not, a perfect score will not get you into your dream school; though an abysmal score can hurt your chances of getting into a school that should be within your reach (considering your GPA, experience, letters of rec., etc.).
So if you received an okay score, let’s say 152 on both sections, it may not be the GRE that is holding you back. There could very well be other omissions—or sub-par standings—in your record that could have influenced the admission board’s decision.

On the other hand, if you scored in the low 140’s, then your GRE score could very well have been factor. If you think you are in this group, do not lose heart. You can improve your score (I routinely see students in the Magoosh testimonial section increase their scores by 16 points). And by extension, you can improve your chances in getting accepted the second time around.

But I don’t just want to give you a pep talk and a pat on the back. Increasing even by 10-points will mean you not only have to work harder, but you have to work smarter. Below is a post that will help guide you in the right direction.

Should I retake the GRE?

Give us your rejection sob stories below!

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