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Handling Rejection from Schools, Scholarships, and Employers

Let’s face it, “rejection” in general is a harsh word. It hurts hearing it, saying it, and most of all receiving it—but it is and always will be a part of life, so how do we deal with it?

Rejection is scary and hard to deal with for people of all ages—especially if you are rejected from something that you think the rest of your life depends on. This means being rejected from your dream school, scholarship, or dream job can feel like the end of the world. I’ve had to deal with plenty of rejections in my life and they are always difficult to accept. These are the steps that I have had to take when dealing with my own rejection letters.

Rejection from A Dream School

When I was younger, I used to dream about going to college. Watching coming-of-age movies about high schoolers applying to their dream schools is still one of my favorite pastimes. But applying to college is really not all it's cracked up to be. Applying to schools was a tedious and rigorous process for me personally. When submitting applications, my advice is to apply to as many as you can but be realistic about the ones you most likely won’t get into.

Choose to celebrate the acceptance letters instead of mourning the rejection letters. It’s a really big accomplishment getting into college and it deserves a celebration. That dream school rejection letter might be disappointing at first, and that’s ok, but it's important to look at your next steps in a positive way. This doesn’t mean you won’t go to college and achieve your goals, it just means you won’t go to THAT college.

When working through your disappointment, try this:
  • Remember that you aren’t going to be able to get into every school you apply for. Rejection letters are inevitable.
  • Celebrate that acceptance letter! You did it, you got into college. Maybe it wasn’t the acceptance letter you were expecting, but don’t let that get you down.
  • Get excited for your freshman year. What are you most excited about? Try and envision yourself doing that exciting thing at the schools you get accepted to.

Scholarship Rejections

Applying to scholarships was the bane of my existence during my senior year of high school. I applied to many and got rejected by most. I had to keep reminding myself that there were many other applicants and they could only pick one person to give it to. I chose to celebrate the scholarships I did get instead of dwelling on the ones I couldn’t get.

There are many different types of scholarships you can apply for, you just have to find the ones that suit you the best, so be smart when applying and play to your strengths. If you do get rejected from one you were confident in, go back and try to figure out why they might not have given it to you. Take the knowledge you gain from this experience and apply it to your next application!

Try doing these things to better your chances of getting a different scholarship:
  • Take your rejected scholarship application and try to figure out what could have made them reject you. Was it a weak essay? A nervous interview? Whatever it was, practice that skill to improve your next application.
  • Apply for more scholarships—there are literally thousands of different scholarships to choose from—and choose the ones that suit you best.
  • Celebrate the scholarships you do get. Free money to spend on your next four years of education, now that’s exciting!

Rejections From Potential Employers

Job rejections can be brutal. Stuffing down feelings of inadequacy can be the hardest thing to do. When applying for jobs or internships, I tend to romanticize what my life could look like if I did get that position. Getting rejected from those jobs feels like getting rejected from my new dream life. It makes me second guess myself and the skills I have worked hard to hone.

What I’ve had to learn to do is take that experience and use it to motivate myself to apply for more jobs or more internships. My goal when looking for a job is to continue applying to them until I get one. When dealing with this type of rejection, look for things you could gain more experience in when applying for another job of the same kind. The best thing to do in this situation is to reorganize and regroup, so you can continue your job hunt.

Here is what I try to do after being rejected from a job:
  • If the employer doesn’t offer it up, ask them why they decided not to give you this job. It might be a lack of experience, or they might have just decided you weren’t a good fit for their company. Whatever it is, you can use this feedback to better your resume or next application.
  • You might need to refine your job search. Maybe you aren’t applying for the right jobs with the experience or skills you possess. Re-evaluate your options and work from there.
  • Apply to more jobs! This one wasn’t for you and that’s ok. Use this rejection to motivate you to find a new job to apply for.

I hate rejection just as much as the next person, and most of the time, I’m not good at following these tips I have given you. But, when I do use these steps, it makes me feel a lot better about my own rejection letters. Rejections are never going to be easy, but I hope you are better equipped to deal with them in a positive way. Using that rejection to your advantage will help you get accepted to the next school, win the next scholarship, and land the next job. Always keep looking ahead!

Maggie is an editorial intern at Potential magazine and a senior English major at Birmingham Southern College. She enjoys reading and writing articles and blogs and is excited to share some of her college experiences with Potential readers.

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