What to Do When You're Rejected from All Colleges

Instructor: Bill Sands
Though being rejected from college can be discouraging, it's not the end of the world. You still have plenty of options, from re-applying to pursuing other academic and professional endeavors.

How to Handle College Rejection

With students applying to college in record numbers, the admissions process has become more selective than ever. Schools have become more competitive, and this might mean you won't get into some or all of the schools to which you applied. This can be a humbling moment, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your long-term plans and desires.

You can always apply to college again, but is that really what you want to do? Some professions don't require a degree. If your dream is to be an auto mechanic, for example, you can research workforce training programs that provide specific job training instead of enrolling in a traditional degree program. If you think you're ready, you can enter the workforce directly and forego further education.

Re-Apply Yourself

If you've decided that college is the right path for you, there are several things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted at other schools. If your application was rejected by multiple universities, it's likely that it needs some improvement. You might consider taking the following steps:

  • Try pushing yourself academically during your last couple of semesters in high school, whether by taking an AP course or advanced math and science classes, to show schools you're up to the challenges of college coursework.
  • Colleges prefer well-rounded candidates with plenty of extracurricular activities; volunteering for a charity or joining a local club can help build essential skills and demonstrate your appeal to colleges.
  • You can't go back in time and change your grades, but you can re-take standardized tests. By studying with courses such as these SAT and ACT prep classes, you can improve your scores and make your application more appealing.
  • Before re-submitting your application, have your counselor review it to find mistakes, suggest improvements, and recommend other things that you may not have considered.

It's also important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. If you only applied to the top schools, you may want to consider researching some lesser-known schools. The top-ranked schools are the most competitive, and even if you have excellent grades, acceptance into these schools is extremely difficult. There are plenty of schools that offer high-quality education without the prestige of high rankings. This course on How to Choose a College might prove helpful when re-evaluating your options.

Consider Other Education Options

College is not a prerequisite to success; plenty of individuals have excelled in the professional world without a degree. Many career options are open to students who complete another form of postsecondary training. These workforce development and apprenticeship programs are an attractive option for students considering careers in such fields as manufacturing, health care, and construction.

Rather than provide the balanced education that a bachelor's degree offers, these programs focus on the specific skills and knowledge students will need to land a job or pass industry certification and licensure exams upon completion. These Career Training courses, for example, can help students prepare for careers in such fields as real estate, retail management, and hotel and hospitality management.

A word of caution: these types of programs offer outstanding learning opportunities, but provide very specific training. By choosing a program of this sort, you're effectively limiting your career options, which is fine if you're confident in your long-term plans. Students who are still undecided about their future, however, may want to opt for studying areas that can be applied toward a variety of careers, such as computer skills and business.

Get to Work!

Plenty of rewarding careers require only a high school diploma. If you're ready to enter the workforce right away, you have a number of options, such as billing clerk, advertising sales agent, food services manager, and legal secretary. Many companies reward loyalty and experience, and more senior positions that would normally need a degree may become available as you demonstrate your value and knowledge. Check out these Career Development courses for professionals looking to develop their communication, management, customer service, or computer skills and advance in the field.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Filtered by: {{subject.name}}   {{level.name}}   {{goal.name}}   Clear All Filters
Courses: {{pfc.courses.length}}