Every April I receive email messages from panicked students who have been waitlisted or rejected from every single college to which they applied. Such situations, unfortunately, aren't uncommon. Thousands of applicants are finding themselves with no acceptance letters. If you find yourself in this unenviable situation, what now?
First off, while you might be incredibly disappointed, there is no cause for panic. Your college dreams are not dead. Several options are still available to you:
- Consider a "gap year" -- a year off from school during which you do something interesting. Some students travel, volunteer, work, teach, or take classes. If you do something productive and interesting, your college application will be stronger next year. Some top schools such as Princeton like to see students take a gap year. Students arrive on campus with more experiences, more maturity, and a clearer sense of direction.
- Attend community college or a college that still has vacancies for a year or two, and then try to transfer to your top choice school. Transferring to competitive colleges is not easy, but this route does give you another possible pathway to the college of your dreams.
- If you've been waitlisted, read these tips for getting off a college waitlist. The situation is largely out of your hands, but a little effort to demonstrate your continued interest and update your application can help.
- If you've been rejected, realize that a few rare situations can justify an appeal. To learn more, check out this article on appealing a college rejection.
- Be patient. In May, I'll post a link to NACAC's space availability survey -- it will have a long list of colleges and universities that still have spaces available for the fall. While you won't find Harvard on the list, many good schools will still be looking for a few good students
- Finally, while you should move ahead with other plans, don't give up on those waitlists. With the high number of applications many selective schools received this year, we're going to be seeing a lot of waitlist activity.