The most elite colleges in the US have abysmally low acceptance rates.
Congratulations if your letter read “yes”. For the majority of the college applicant population, however, this is a season of rejection letters from early decision colleges, a crushing disappointment after all the time, sweat and tears poured into that tedious application process.
It’s important to note now – and this will apply to many other big events to come in your lifetime – that this is not the end of the world.
Many of the world’s brightest, happiest and most successful received a rejection letter, sometimes several rejection letters, from the college of their dreams. So dry your eyes and count yourself in the presence of luminaries like Tina Fey, Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, JK Rowling and Steven Spielberg.
You will go on to do many great things and fulfill your true potential in whatever field or personal goals that rock your boat.
In the meantime, however, there’s some recalibration to be done. Whether you’re planning to strengthen your application when you re-apply or want to try something totally different, here are a few alternatives you should check out:
1. Get a job
Money and bonus points to add to your next university application – what better way to get the ball rolling when you’re stuck in this rut?
Be it a part-time job, a full-time job or an internship, working in areas related, or even unrelated, to your studies, can be a good way to gain many new technical and non-technical skills, such as communication and teamwork.
Trust us, these pay off in the long run, whether or not you stay on in that job for a long time or just for a stint.
2. Get active
It’s tempting to close yourself off from the world at this point in time.
Your feelings can be overwhelming, and there are loads of expectations to revise. But moping and staying indoors can be counter-productive and may actually cause you to feel worse than before.
Going out and taking part in sports, in particular, not only will keep your body healthy, but can be a good boost of endorphins to help you figure what to do next after this.
Furthermore, if it’s for competitive sports, it can even be added into your next college application, as combined with academic skills can make your submission stand out more than those who don’t.
3. Spend a lot of time … with yourself
What this means is to take this opportunity to really understand who you are and what you want from going to college.
Is it to make a lot of money in the future? Is it to develop your passions for the future? Could it be more about a pursuit of happiness instead of material gains?
Having all this information is crucial, we cannot stress this enough, so that you do not go down a path that is not you. What matters is what you want from college, not what your friends, family or society is expecting to aim for.
4. Pursue that hobby intensely
Knowing what to do next is not an easy task, especially when it’s loaded with the big questions in life like what career would suit you best or what do you want out of life.
But one activity that can prove illuminating in trying to answer these questions is to pursue a hobby intensely.
This opens up all the hidden challenges and setbacks that come along with it, or new strengths and experiences that you never had the time to discover before. How this helps is this process is ultimately an information-gathering one that makes sure you are making an informed decision before settling on a particular college, course or major.
Like the late travel guru extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain said: “If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”
Bourdain is onto something.
If done right, travel is highly beneficial, even for high school students confused and at lost of what to do with their college application process.
Going to China could reveal a buried passion for Asian history, or embarking on a day trip to a forest reservoir you’ve never been to could make you forget about the pain of being rejected and open your eyes to the beauty of woodlands and how far you would go to learn how to preserve and conserve them.
There are many other things one could do at what could be the most disappointing time in life for high school seniors, but despair should never be one of them.