By Justas Pakašius
Published 2022 06 14
Let’s be real, getting a rejection letter sucks. It sucks a lot. It feels like a punch in the gut. After spending countless hours reading, editing and perfecting motivational essays, worrying about grades and teacher recommendations, everything seems as if it was all for nothing. A rejection letter can destroy your motivation to study further and to try again, especially if this was your dream school or you thought getting into it was beyond doubt. Yet this is a moment not for despair, but for action.
At this point, it is important to ask what is it that you want or need in order to realise your ambitions and dreams. Think outside the box and you will be surprised with how many activities there are, which begin you along that path. Volunteer, work part-time in an organisation you believe in, take online classes from Harvard itself for completely free online or simply spend more time reading or travelling. The catch is, by doing all of these things and applying again to the same or another school will make you even more appealing and stand out. Because here is the catch, all of those things, which help you realise your own success make you more attractive to any university as you are able to demonstrate a mission, drive and dedication, which very few share.
It is becoming clear that applying and getting rejected by one school does not mean the end of the world. I got rejected from Oxford after going through the interview, painstakingly spending days writing my personal statement and worrying sick over what would the admissions committee think of me. But enrolling in another university did not close any doors and indeed eventually I found my way into Columbia University. There is no shame in thinking about taking a gap year or applying to a different university, which may end up proving to be a bigger step towards your ultimate success than your dream school.
With regards to a gap year opportunities for improving your CV, gaining new skills, improving your financial situation and growing as a person are endless. Everything from the Peace Corps, and military service to volunteering at a local animal shelter are noble and worthwhile undertakings in their own way. After them, university itself may become something you do not even need to pursue immediately as life rewards those who show determination in the face of adversity.
Ultimately the most important thing to realise is that the university admissions committees are people themselves, they see thousands of candidates and they have to make important decisions based on preciously few data points, such as a few short essays and standardised tests of one variety or another. These do not reveal everything about a person and they are liable to make mistakes themselves in judging candidates. Thus, do not despair, instead work towards succeeding on your own terms!
Here at Atlas, we prepare students before and after their university applications by building the best possible academic and career portfolios, resumes and stories possible.
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