So, this happened.
You fall in love with a college abroad. You spend sleepless nights researching on it and stalking the school in Instagram. You even email the admissions office and get back a response. You talk about it to your friends, your family, heck, even your haters. You cannot stop fantasizing about how amazing life at this school would be.
Amidst this excitement, you invest in studying for the SATs, you do well in them (not what you expected, but you did better than many people you know). Then you complete the application online and get the best recommendations from your teachers. Everyone is happy for you and wishes you the best.
Then it happens. On that fateful evening, you receive an email from the admissions office. The email does not have any excitement at all. You read it twice to confirm your worst fears. Part of the email reads “Unfortunately, we regret that we were unable to offer you admissions…” or something like that. You were not waitlisted. You were rejected. And that is final.
Your heart is crushed into a million pieces.
So, how do you deal with this?
First, it is very easy to say “just move on, it is not the end of life”. When you fall in love with a school, you invest your emotions and your entire future in that school. It is like a romantic relationship. One does not move on very easily. So, don’t feel bad for being heartbroken. Appreciate the hurt. Allow yourself to be sad. Cry if you have to and let the tears flow freely. It helps to clear your mind.
However, do not make the grief last for months. A day or two is ok. Afterward, start focusing on next steps. Start looking at other options that you have and rank them.
So, your plan A did not work, then promote plan B into plan A. If you did not think of a backup plan, quickly begin making a list of other potential options and seriously start considering them. Ask questions like: Do you want to re-apply during the Regular Cycle? Do you want to re-take the SAT? Are there any top program in South African or Kenyan universities that may interest you? Talk to your friends and parents about this to develop a come-back plan.
Next, realize that a rejection from top schools is in no way a reflection of your academic ability. Many of these schools receive thousands of applications which forces them to reject highly qualified applicants.
Imagine out every 100 applicants, only 5 get selected! That means that 95 other people got rejected! So don’t feel any less smart. In fact, you could apply again and get in! Admissions decisions at top schools sometimes come down to pure luck.
Finally, feel proud of yourself. The reason you fail is because you are pushing yourself hard enough – which makes you better than many of your friends who would rather watch series all day. Make an effort to learn from this failure and improve how you approach opportunities in the future. This is not the end of applications. You will apply to numerous other opportunities and this is your chance to learn how to put your best foot forward.