As we move towards the end of December, many students anxiously start waiting for answers on their early decision or early action college applications. For some students the news may be very good, and they will receive an acceptance with a substantial financial aid offer. But for other students the news may not be as good, or it could be a bit more ambiguous. Your application might be rejected outright, or you could be put on the deferred list.
In any case, it can feel downright disheartening. It is okay to acknowledge those frustrations and spend a little time feeling down, but then you still have to take control and get yourself back on the path to college. Here are some positive steps you can take to deal with the disappointment of early application rejection:
- Rejection or deferral? It is important to know the difference. An outright rejection means your application did not meet their standards for some reason, and there is no chance of admission. A deferral, however, means that they are interested but not ready to make an offer quite yet. The college is waiting to receive responses from students that received admission offers. If there is room left in their freshman class, you might still receive an acceptance.
- Early decision rejection: This might be one college where you had the highest hope of getting accepted. If that was the only college you applied to, go back to your college list immediately and rethink your top college opportunities. Visit colleges, find out their deadlines for regular admissions, and get your application in as soon as possible. Make sure to add those college codes to your FAFSA so they get your financial information. Check the financial aid web pages to find out if any require a CSS Profile or other financial aid application information.
- Early action rejection: This could have been one of your reach colleges, where you took a chance that did not work out. You probably had other match colleges on your list that have not yet responded, but it might be a good idea to take a look at applying to one of your safety colleges as a back-up plan. Review your application requirements lists again to ensure your match colleges have your letters of recommendation, current test scores, and other pertinent information.
- Early decision deferral: This is a tough one, as it is probably one of your top picks. If you want to consider pursuing this college, take a close look at their guidelines to find out what you need to do next. They may ask you to submit more current information, or they might make the next decision based on the information they already have. You can contact the admissions office to ask questions, or you can consider sending a short letter to let them know you are still committed to their college.
- Early action deferral: Perhaps you have heard from another early action option, and are happy with their offer. If not, there is still a chance you might get into the deferral college, but you want to review your list closely to see whether it was overly optimistic. One rejection or deferral does not necessarily indicate a trend, but two or more should make you re-evaluate your strategy.
Don’t second-guess your initial application strategy; just take a minute and analyze your next step options. Think about why you wanted to attend these specific colleges. If one college is the only one in your heart, perhaps you can start at community college or another college and transfer. If other colleges offer equally exceptional programs, you might find yourself just as happy with a “second” choice.
CFAA helps with every step of the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to making sure each college has complete information. Set up a CFAA new client free strategy session to learn more about finding ways to pay for college. To get the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.