A rejection letter may just kill your dreams of a promising career you’ve always dreamed of thus leaving you with the harsh reality that you didn’t make it. But don’t lose hope too fast because there are things you can learn from a rejection letter to help you manage your expectations for the future.
What is a College Rejection Letter?
College rejection letters are sent to applicants who are not accepted into college. This letter usually contains an explanation of why the applicant was not accepted.
Some colleges also send a rejection letters to students who applied for financial aid and were denied. In this case, the student may be eligible for a different type of financial aid or have more time to reapply for financial aid next year.
A college rejection letter is not necessarily a bad thing. If you don’t get accepted into your top choice school or don’t receive enough funding, other options are available!
Reading a College Rejection Letter
After months of waiting for a college answer, the decision letter is the last thing you want to see. The good news is that most students get into at least one school, and if your child is one of them, this letter might help you celebrate.
The first thing to do when reading a college rejection letter is to read the whole thing carefully. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted by the first paragraph or two and start skipping ahead. You’ll want to ensure you understand everything before deciding how to respond.
Next, consider what caused the college admissions board to reject your child’s application. If they don’t mention anything specific, ask yourself if there were any red flags in your application that might have raised concerns among the admissions staff. Maybe it was something as simple as a bad grade or too few extracurricular activities.
If you can’t figure out why your child was rejected, ask for feedback from an expert who has experience dealing with college admissions officers (for example, an academic counselor at another high school).
How to Write a College Rejection Letter
Writing a college rejection letter can be difficult. You want to be encouraging, but you also don’t want to mislead the student or his or her parents. Follow these guidelines when writing a college rejection letter:
Don’t sugarcoat your decision. Acknowledging that you were impressed with the student’s accomplishments is one way of being honest without misleading them about your decision.
Don’t use passive language.
It sounds vague and impersonal. Instead, use active verbs and “I” statements whenever possible (for example: “I’m sorry that I cannot accept your application”). This makes it easier for students to identify with what you’re saying and creates a more personal tone in your letter.
Be specific about why you made your decision.
If you choose not to accept an applicant because they did not meet certain criteria, such as having an SAT score below a certain level, be clear about what those criteria are so that other applicants will know what they need to do to improve their chances of being accepted at your school in the future.
Be clear about the reason for denial.
Most students will understand if they don’t get in because of grades or test scores. But if there’s another reason that’s not as obvious, be sure to tell them about it. If you don’t have enough space in your letter, consider adding a note at the bottom with more information about why the student wasn’t accepted.
Here’s how to write a college rejection letter:
Start by identifying your name and position as the writer. Your name should be at the top of the page with no title. The greeting is Dear Applicant and should be followed with a comma. Then, introduce yourself as someone who works for (name of college or university) in a position that relates to recruitment and admissions. For example, Dear Applicant: My name is John Smith, Assistant Director of Admissions at Harvard University. After introducing yourself, provide some background information on why you are writing this letter of rejection—for example: As Assistant Director of Admissions at Harvard University, I am responsible for recruiting students from around the world to study at one of our eight undergraduate schools or four graduate programs. In this role, I also write rejection letters on behalf of other departments within our office when necessary (e.g., when we receive too many applications for admission).
The body of your college rejection letter should include two paragraphs. The first paragraph will explain why you are rejecting the applicant, and the second paragraph should give them some advice on how to move forward with their academic career. In both paragraphs, you can use phrases such as:
- We regret to inform you…
- We regret that we must deny your application…
- We are unable to offer you admission at this time…
Your closing should be cordial and kind. Be sure to wish the applicant good luck in his future endeavors. You might also mention that you are always looking for qualified candidates and encourage them to reapply later.
Should you respond to a college rejection letter?
The answer is yes. Responding to a college rejection letter is a great way to learn more about your application and how you can improve your chances of being accepted the next time.
The best thing to do is respond quickly. You want to demonstrate that you are eager and motivated, as this will make a good impression on the admissions office.
You’ll also want to follow up on any requests made by the college in their letter, such as requesting additional recommendations or providing updated test scores.
Finally, if you have any questions about why you were rejected (if there was an explanation), ask them now.
How to Respond to a College Rejection Letter
The rejection letter is an inevitable part of the college application process. When it arrives in the mail, it’s easy to get discouraged and start questioning your decision to apply. However, it’s important to remember that there are many reasons why you may not have been accepted into your top choice school, and it’s important to respond appropriately to the letter.
Here are some tips for responding to a college rejection letter:
Just because your application was rejected doesn’t mean there’s no hope of getting into the school at some point in the future. For example, suppose you applied for Early Decision by November 1st but were denied admission. In that case, it’s possible that if you reapply in Regular Decision and submit new SAT scores, you might get in later on. So don’t give up hope!
Don’t make assumptions about why you were rejected.
It’s tempting to assume that it’s because of something specific — like a low GPA or SAT score — but more often than not, admissions officers look at multiple factors when making their decisions. So don’t assume that your rejection was due to one thing only; instead, check out our guide on How To Get Into College For Free (And Win Scholarships) for help on how other people have gotten free rides or scholarships to their dream schools!
Keep it short and simple.
A rejection letter isn’t an invitation or an opportunity for you to give feedback or vent your frustration. It is simply a notification that your application wasn’t chosen. The last thing you want to do is add salt to the wound by writing a long rant about how they got it wrong because they didn’t choose you!
Don’t be overly emotional or angry when responding.
It’s human nature to feel disappointed when we don’t get what we want, but if you’re too emotional or angry in your response, it can come off as unprofessional and immature. Instead, try responding with something like, “Thank you so much for letting me know about my application status.” If you still need some kind of response, consider sending a thank-you note.
4 Steps for Reapplying to Your Dream College after a Rejection
If you’ve been rejected from your dream school, it can be difficult to know what to do next. If you don’t have any other options, you may want to consider reapplying in the future.
If you do decide to reapply, make sure your new application is as strong as possible by following these tips:
Make sure that the school hasn’t changed its admission process. Many colleges will stop accepting applications at a certain point in the year, so check with the admissions office before reapplying.
Find out how many students apply every year. If it’s low, then your chances will be better than if it’s high.
Research the average GPA and test scores of admitted students to see their grades and scores. This will help you determine if yours are competitive enough for the school’s standards.
Make sure that everything else about your application has improved since last year — especially extracurricular activities, work experience, and volunteer work (if applicable).