College acceptance season is fast approaching, and with it, the potential for great elation as well as terrific disappointment. What are your options if your first choice (or even second and third choice college/univeresity) declines your application?
Don't panic! It's understandable that you are upset and even angry, but you need to look forward and be solution-oriented! Allow yourself a week or two to vent and to grieve and then move forward.
Give great thought to all of your acceptances. Were you acepted to your second, third, or fourth choice? If not, don't panic.
Rejection hurts as it tests the strength one's ego. Am I not smart enough? Competitive enough? Worthy of a decent future? Family and personal expectations play a big role in how one deals with rejection. Rejection, however, can spur determination and set the stage for real growth. View this as a challenge and carry on! Be stronger than those who would have you feel like a failure for even trying. Keep in mind, that sometimes, rejection decisions are based on human error, demographical constraints, and/or over-reaching.
So, how to proceed? Consider a state community or senior (4-year) college. You can always transfer after the first year or so and in the meantime save a lot of money if you choose your coursework wisely. Specifically, you will want to major in Liberal Arts and Sciences or General Studies and take the "basics": English, Psych/Soc/Anth, Math, Physical Sciences, Philosophy, History, etc. Your coursework should transfer very nicely to a more competitive institution, but you must do very well academically and particpate in extracurricular activities. The same can be said if you choose to enroll at a private senior college with the intent of transferring to your top choice.
Another option, if finances allow, is to consider a "Bridge the Gap" year. Boarding schools such as Cheshire Academy, in Cheshire, CT offer graduating seniors a 13th year option in which scholastic skills and extracurricular activities are enhanced making acceptance into the college of your choice much more likely.
While some may want to take a "year off", research illustrates that the decision to do so, may hinder ones academic progress. If a clear, organized plan of action is in place and educational/career goals are clearly defined and attained, then this may be a viable option.
Families, peers, and self-expectations are the toughest obstacles concerning continued college study. In my 25 years of providing academic counseling/career counseling, I would emphatically state not to give up!
If your grades are decent enough, you can take courses at a community and/or senior college and then transfer to your top choice or complete your degree at a senior college and then obtain a Master's degree at your first choice institution.
Thalia Thompson, M.S., I.E.P. has over 25 years of experience providing academic planning, career counseling, and college admissions assistance to thousands of college students at The City University of New York and is a member of the American Counseling Association and the Independent Educational Consultants Association. She is the Owner of College Admissions Coaching, LLC providing college admissions assistance in Fairfield County, CT.