The Important Life Lessons Found in a College Rejection Letter
I admit that we’re a few years off from our oldest attending college but that hasn’t stopped me from starting to look at what goes into the college application process. Right now parents and high school seniors everywhere are stalking their mailboxes and their mailman in the hopes of seeing those three little words, “You’ve Been Accepted”.
Unfortunately, not every teenager will make it into their first or even second choice college.
It can be hard to receive a rejection letter in the mail after teens and parents have mentally built up what life will bring when they are accepted to the college of their choice. Between 93 and 94 percent of over 30,000 applications to Harvard and Stanford Universities will be turned down.
There’s no doubt about it: that’s a lot of rejection. If you can believe it, those envelopes full of disappointment are teaching your teenager valuable lessons that will carry them far beyond what a college degree ever can.
Only You Can Define Your Worth
Even though it’s a piece of paper, the emotional attachment to being accepted is huge. It says that someone wants you and that you have worth and value. What a piece of paper doesn’t tell you is that no one can value you or define your worth in this world more than you. A college or university doesn’t see the whole package being presented to them and in many parts of our life, no one else will see the whole package either. We see snippets and what people choose to show us.
Don’t Make It Personal
This is probably the hardest lesson to learn because it may seem like we learn it again and again in different stages of our lives. If your teen can get past the feeling of being personally let down, they stand a very good chance at handling all of life’s rejections more easily. There are some people who never learn that rejection isn’t personal and they struggle with anxiety and worry over feeling personally let down. It’s a bump in the road but you can’t let it overtake you.
Rejection is Only Temporary
It’s very easy to feel like life is over if you don’t make it into the college of your choice. For a teenager applying to colleges it can feel like the end of the world when they don’t get chosen by their first pick. There are a number of reasons why your teenager could have been rejected but focusing on all the possible reasons won’t change things. Accepting that this is just a setback on the road to their future and helping them get back on track shows them that this rejection won’t last forever. They have the ability and the power to move on.
Opportunity Comes in Many Shapes
One thing that teenagers have a hard time understanding (and some adults, too) is that there are many chances for opportunity in our lives. The old adage, “when one door closes, another one opens,” is very true. In life we are given many opportunities. There are opportunities waiting for them at other colleges. Focus on all the doors that are opening instead of the ones that have closed. They may be headed for bigger things than the college that rejected them would have been able to offer.
The biggest life lesson that college rejection letters can teach our teens is that perseverance is important. Continue to work towards your goals and dreams. There are other ways to achieve what you want. It’s important to keep going, look for new opportunities, value you yourself, and don’t let a rejection overwhelm you.
I’m hoping that by the time we’re applying to colleges we’re prepared to handle whatever rejections come our way. I know that it will be hard for all of us, but if we choose to see the life lessons in front of us, it will make the college experience that much more rewarding.