I may be far from a high school student, but I can still remember applying to colleges like it was yesterday.

My parents started drilling college into my brain the day I entered middle school so you can imagine how much fun I had in high school when college was a closer reality.

While getting into a good school was important to me, it was even more important to my parents; the last thing I wanted to do was let them down when it came to “our” dream schools.

And despite years of tutoring for the SAT (both math and verbal), thousands of dollars spent on touring schools and countless hours spent pouring through college review books, I didn’t end up getting into most of my dream schools after all.

My grades were fine, my SAT scores were above average and I’d say my college essay was well-written considering my SAT tutor wrote most of it, but alas, I ended up feeling horribly depressed over not getting into the schools I so desperately wanted to attend.

Rejection Sign

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So what did I do? What happens when attending your dream school isn’t an option?

If you’re applying to college or perhaps looking to attend grad school and you didn’t get into your dream school, don’t freak out; instead of quitting life and taking a job at McDonalds, take a step back and evaluate the situation clearly.

Stop crying, start focusing.

So you didn’t get into your dream school the first time around; so what?

Give yourself a day to mourn then get over it! The worst thing you can do for yourself is curl up in a ball and give up on life.

Just remember: if Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team and ended up with the career he had, I think you can overcome this blip on the radar.

Use your rejection as an opportunity to learn and grow; focus on the things you need to improve on and actually work to improve them. If you want to go to Georgetown, but you didn’t get in the first time around, put on those damn horse-blinders and make it happen.

Forget that your friends are heading off to x, y or z school; that is them, not you. The only person you are in competition with is yourself and don’t ever forget that. You CAN and WILL do this.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

A TON of students don’t get into their dream schools the first time around; the letter you received isn’t a rejection, it’s your chance to PROVE to the school of your dreams how badly you want to attend their fine university.

Choose one of your safety schools and make peace with your decision. Use the summer as a chance to prepare for your best year of schooling yet; start planning, get organized and stay focused.

If you want that dream school, you better push yourself to get there. Go to every single class, get to know your professors, stay in on the weekends and work your ass off until you get the grades your dream school deems acceptable. It wouldn’t hurt to get involved on campus either; join a club or organization and start networking.

Who cares if you make friends in your dorm or even in class; you’re never going to see any of these people once you transfer to your dream school so if you need to stay in the library or head home to do work on the weekends, just do it.

Don’t slack, EVER.

Look, there’s a reason you didn’t get into your dream school the first time around, so don’t give the admissions committee a reason to reject you on your second try.

This includes applying AHEAD of time to every single school you want to go to. Don’t print off the applications then claim “you’ll get to them,” NO! If you want to go to your dream school as badly as you say you do, then you better make sure your application is the first one read.

Work on your essay in advance so you have plenty of time to have it looked over, edited and critiqued by someone who knows what they are doing. Spend ample time making it the most perfect, unique piece of prose ever written so you KNOW the only piece of mail coming your way is an acceptance letter.

Michael Jordan

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Keep in mind:

1. The name of your school isn’t everything.

The name of the school you attend IS important, but it ISN’T everything. Hard work, drive and ambition can get you just about anywhere you want to go so if you didn’t get into your dream school and transferring isn’t an option, OH WELL!

You can still get your dream job or career no matter where you attend if you are willing to put in the work to get there.

2. I know it’s hard, but forget partying for now.

I know you want to spend your freshman year partying, but trust me, the parties will be 100x sweeter at your dream school so don’t even bother worrying about what is currently going on around you. Stay focused on your goal and the months will FLY by.

3. It’s not THAT long.

With vacation, you are in school for probably 6.5 months total; THAT’S IT! You can do this, focus for this small chunk of time and you will get through it, trust me.

4. It’s not you, it’s them.

Don’t let this rejection get you down; you’re awesome and you know you deserve to go to your dream school. Sure, it sucks that you have to PROVE it to someone how badly you want it, but that’s life; sometimes you’re in, sometimes you’re out.

You may be warming up the bench for now, but with a little effort and hard work, you’ll be up at bat in no time at all.

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