How to handle grad school rejection

  • How to handle grad school rejection

    There are many steps that go into applying to grad school. Before submitting an application, a student should thoroughly research schools and programs and follow suggestions as to how to make their application stand out from the rest. He or she may have gathered all of the necessary recommendation letters, put together a résumé and taken a number of tests.

    However, acceptance is never guaranteed, and rejection can be difficult to handle — especially when there aren't many resources that explain how to deal with the rejection. Following are suggestions that may help guide you.

    Don't take it personally
    It can be easy for an applicant to feel discouraged after getting rejected, but it's important for him or her to stay focused on the goal. A rejection letter doesn't mean that grad school is off the table forever. Instead, it means more experience or time is needed before attending and pursuing that path. 

    Follow up accordingly
    It's a good idea to follow up with an admission officer after receiving any kind of communication from a school. Acceptance letters should be followed up with a thank you note, and rejection letters are no different. When applicants reach out after a rejection letter, they should be sure to approach it in a professional manner. Notes can be introduced with a thank you for reviewing the application, followed by a request for what can be done differently next time. Applicants may be interested in applying the following semester or year and ask for steps that need to be taken to improve their chances for acceptance.

    Try again
    Once an applicant gets the information back from the admission officer, he or she can then chart a plan for next steps. In addition to following the advice given, it is important to maintain contact, as that officer could be a great ally when applying a second time. Meanwhile, it may be that a different grad school may wind up being a better fit. An applicant must always weigh the pros and cons of any school's programs to decide if that program will help them reach their career goals. Whatever the decision, it's important to remain optimistic.

    By Monique Smith

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