What to Do if You Don’t Get Accepted to College

Stressed worker

Congratulations if you’ve been accepted by your dream college! But what if you’ve been rejected by your number-one college choice—or even all of the colleges you applied to?

Don’t despair. Hundreds of colleges and universities accept applications and admit students until the start of the fall semester. These students are those who were not accepted into their first- or second-choice colleges, those who might have missed the standard application deadlines, or those who needed to raise their grades their last semester in high school to qualify for higher-level schools.

Schools that accept applications after the typical stop date of March 15 are known as “Late Deadline” or “Late Application” schools. You’ll still need to meet application requirements (GPA, SAT/ACT scores, etc.), but there are many great opportunities at such schools. One drawback: the later you apply, the harder it will be to land institution-awarded scholarships and financial aid. So it’s important to get moving quickly. Here are some ways to discover “Late Deadline” schools:

  1. Just Ask. Contact colleges to ask about their admissions practices. By talking with people in the admissions department, you’ll also make valuable contacts that may come in handy once you apply to the school.
  2. Check Out the College Openings Update. The National Association for College Admission Counseling publishes its College Openings Update at https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/Research/CollegeOpenings. It provides information on more than 560 colleges that have available openings, financial aid, and housing.
  3. Use The College Board’s Big Future Website (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search). Select “Test Scores & Selectivity” on the left, then select “Less Selective (>75% admitted)” or “Open Admission” to find a list of schools.
  4. Don’t Forget Public Universities and Community Colleges. Some public universities extend their application deadlines. Contact schools in your area for more information. Community colleges almost always accept applications until the start of the new school year. Before you enroll, make sure that your credits will transfer to a four-year school.

If you’ve been rejected by your dream college, don’t take it personally. Remember that, in most cases, this rejection has nothing to do with you. A record number of students are applying to colleges, which makes it even more difficult for top students to get into the school of their choice. The National Association for College Admission Counseling reports that the average acceptance rate at four-year colleges was 66.1 percent in 2015, down from close to 70 percent in 2000. Admission rates at top-tier colleges are traditionally very low. For example, Fall 2016 acceptance rates at Harvard University and Yale University were 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Looking for more advice on college admissions, majors, and financial aid? Click here to read a sample issue of our newsletter College Spotlight and to learn how to subscribe.

Copyright Andrew Morkes & College & Career Press (photo courtesy of Adobe Stock)