College Acceptance Rescinded? What to Do

In some cases, a college may accept a student and then change their mind, rescinding the acceptance. Previously, we looked at the reasons this can happen. The most common reason colleges go back on acceptance is because a student’s high school grades drop after the initial application. A repeal of acceptance into school can also happen when a student has been caught in academic dishonesty or convicted of a crime.

If a rescinding of your acceptance into school has happened or seems like a distinct possibility, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to appeal a notice of rescinded acceptance, and there are also ways to prevent a rescinding of acceptance before it happens.


How to reverse a rescinded college acceptance

As I mentioned, schools do not like rescinding acceptance once they’ve granted it to a student. If you get notification that your acceptance has been rescinded, call the university and ask them if there’s any way to either appeal the rejection.

Often, universities are willing to consider extenuating circumstances—things like illness or unexpected life events—that cause a slip in grades or a delay in high school graduation. At times, an academically-based repeal of acceptance can be overturned. And deferred acceptance—acceptance at a later date than originally planned—is also a distinct possibility.

A rejection after initial acceptance is harder to override when it’s based on a criminal conviction or academic dishonesty. However, there is still a chance universities may be willing to hear out a student and still consider them for acceptance, especially if the crime in question is non-violent and not a felony.

Rejection based on academic dishonesty is actually harder to overcome. In fact, cheating is actually more of a deal-breaker than criminal convictions. Every criminal conviction is unique and can be considered individually. But cheating is cheating, and this kind of bad behavior has direct and obvious implications about how an applicant might conduct themselves as an accepted student. Because of this, universities seldom accept someone who was caught cheating or lying on their previously accepted application.


Ways to prevent your application from being rescinded

The process of rescinding a student’s acceptance into school is not a “feel-good” experience for anyone involved. If you think your application might be rescinded in the near future, many schools will be happy to work with you to prevent this from happening.

Remember what I said about universities having no tolerance for dishonesty? The flip side of this is that universities generally appreciate honesty about things that might otherwise cause them to rescind your acceptance. If your high school grades start to slip, contact your university. Ask them if your now-lower grade will be an issue, and if so, what you need to raise your grade back up to.

If you’ve been accused of academic misconduct or criminal behavior, talk to schools that have accepted you and ask them what the potential fallout could be. This gives you a chance to explain your side of the story, and it makes it clear you’re not trying to hide potential problems or trick them into accepting you. This increases the odds that a school will be willing to work with you even if you are successfully accused of cheating or ultimately do get convicted of a crime.


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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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