What to Do If You're Denied Admission

woman sunset, denied admission

If at First You Aren't Admitted...Dust Yourself Off and Try Again  


It’s that fateful week you've been waiting for. Every day you wake up with your stomach in knots. You stalk your mail delivery person like a maniac, check your email compulsively, and call Verizon because you’re certain that you aren’t receiving your voicemails.
Then it arrives. You were hoping for a thick packet. Instead, a slim white missive rests mockingly in your mailbox. It’s a rejection letter from the graduate school of your dreams. What in the world are you supposed to do now?
In fact, getting dissed by your fantasy school is sort of like getting denied by your crush. You were all starry-eyed. You thought he/she/it was the one. Then you got kicked to the curb. You’re out in the cold. How do you heal from this wound?

Other Fish in the Sea

Yeah, Tyrone was a cutie. Or Celeste’s dimples made your knees weak. But maybe it’s not meant to be. At least they think so. But they’re certainly not the only options out there. Similarly, you may have thought you were destined to attend this particular graduate school. It was going to provide a perfectly enriching environment and stimulate your ability to research and grow. The acceptance would have paved the way for your career path, the first in a long string of dazzling achievements that would only grow in scope over time…and when you got that rejection letter your vision came crashing to the ground.
But realistically, that’s all you had – a vision. It doesn’t mean that that particular school is the one, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the only place you can thrive. You probably applied to other graduate schools too. Take a closer look at them. Just like we tend to overlook the “good guy” in the corner, you may have overlooked a perfectly good graduate school match because you were too busy fantasizing about another one with perfectly manicured lawns.

On Bended Knee

Or, you could beg. Text Tyrone every day; ride your bike past Celeste’s house. In graduate school terms, this only works if you’re waitlisted, rather than flat-out turned down. If pleading is your strategy of choice, contact the admissions office expressing your continued interest in the program. Ask them the most effective way to follow up, and do it. Depending upon how far you’re willing to take it, you could send them news of academic accomplishments along the way, or a monthly card checking in. Just don’t be a creepy stalker. A letter is nice. A letter drenched in perfume and signed in blood is not.

Ramble On

Like a spurned lover flees the country to nurse his broken heart, you too can wander abroad. If you’re committed to attending graduate school and truly aren’t a fan of any of the schools that did accept you, why not take some time out to regroup? Assuming you can afford it, now’s a perfect time to travel. Hit up Southeast Asia or South America if you’re on a shoestring budget. Sometimes a vacation is necessary when we want to gain perspective, and evaluating your life’s path tends to be easier on a tropical beach or Andean peak.


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 If You Are Not AdmittedWhat to Do While You're Waiting
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