Dealing with grad school rejection

‘Tis the season for plummeting self-esteem because of grad school rejections.

While obtaining your bachelor’s degree is worth the self-praise and a break from school, most students have their eyes set on a graduate program. Unfortunately, not everyone will be accepted into every school that they’ve applied to.

Parents may still give that “You’re still amazing” speech amidst the graduate school rejection sulk, but Emily Tasca, a member of the career advisement team in the Office of Career Development, and Emilio Lorenzo, assistant director of career advisement in the Office of Career development, have actual advice on how to deal with the pangs of rejection from graduate school.

Why was I rejected?

Lorenzo said rejection depends on the competitiveness and nature of the program. The more competitive the program, the harder it is to stand out because these programs are going to receive a lot of students who are equally qualified.

Tasca said that the healthcare programs are the perfect example of this because they get countless applications, so rejection is more common.

Tasca and Lorenzo said that how well one aligns with the program also has a lot to do with rejection or acceptance into the program. If a graduate school has specific qualities that they are looking for, which a student doesn’t have, then it becomes a disadvantage, which is probably why the program rejected the student.

According to Tasca and Lorenzo, some schools  give feedback upon rejection.

“Sometimes you can even set up a meeting with the advisors about your application so you can get an idea of why you were rejected,” said Tasca..

Brush yourself off and try again

Lorenzo and Tasca said that reapplying is always an option.

“If you’ve been rejected from a business graduate school, and they see that you’ve improved and applied again, then they will go ‘Wow, this person really wants to be here,’” said Lorenzo.

Tasca and Lorenzo agreed that if there are programs students really want to be admitted to, they should take time to develop the skills needed for their desired programs because they can always reapply.

“It’s OK to take some time and ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make myself more advantageous?’” said Lorenzo. “Use the time to get some experience through internships and rebuild who you are. By the time you reapply, even you will be surprised to see how much you’ve changed.”

Lorenzo and Tasca said that students shouldn’t worry about being rejected again, just because they were rejected the first time, because schools don’t hold students’ failures against them. Instead, they will be impressed by a student’s persistence because it shows that he or she is passionate about the program.

“Improve from the experience ― don’t let this ‘No’ turn you into a quitter,” said Lorenzo.

“It’s important for students to not use the rejection as a reason to stop pursuing their career path,” said. Tasca.

But I’ve been put on a waiting list

While an acceptance or rejection is definitive answer, some students will be put on a waiting list for schools. But should they wait?

According to Tasca and Lorenzo, being put on a waiting list is not a “no,” but they understand that it can be frustrating for students. Tasca and Lorenzo agreed that it depends on the students, and the student should ask themselves what their values are and what they really need to make them happy.

If a student finds that the school that put them on a waiting list perfectly aligns with his or her values, and he or she will be happiest attending this institution, then he or she can wait.

“It’s really up to the student; they must decide what they want,” said Tasca.

Tasca and Lorenzo agreed that dealing with being placed on a waiting list is subjective because it asks the student to evaluate who they are and whether this is the most important school to them.

The most important thing is that one should never let rejection from a graduate school deter him or her from pursuing his or her dreams. Rejection is a part of life, and, while it is a hard pill to swallow, it is not the end of the world. Find solace in the fact that you can always try again, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

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