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Tips for Moving on From (College) Rejection

The college admissions process doesn’t end with sending in your college application. After all, you still have to wait for your college acceptance—or rejection—letters.

If you’re a high school senior, you’ve probably received most of your letters back by now. Maybe you’re one of the lucky few who got into their dream art schools. But the bitter reality of college admissions is that most students don’t make it into their first choice colleges.

While disappointment and heartbreak are totally valid reactions, eventually you have to pick yourself back up. So here are seven great tips for how to move on from rejection—and how to avoid easy mistakes that can get you rejected.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

First, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment by pinning all of your hopes and dreams on one school.

Even if you’re certain that your first choice school will accept your college application, hedging your bets is still a good idea. Be sure to apply to several schools—eight is a pretty safe number!

Moreover, your second, third, and even fourth choice schools are still good schools. Your future in art isn’t over just because you didn’t get into your first choice, so take a deep breath. You’ll be okay!

You can still get a quality education even if you don’t get into the school you wanted most.

Student using X-Acto knife on paper project

Consider Transferring From a Community College

If financial aid is a big concern for you, going to community college can really help you save money. You can always transfer to a four-year college afterward.

Plus, studying at a community college can help you build a solid foundation in art and design. By the time you start applying as a transfer student to other schools, you’ll have a more developed portfolio, as well as new skills and experiences.

With community college under your belt, you’ll also have a better idea of what you want from schools—and for yourself.

Volunteer During Your Gap Year

All the same, maybe you need a little more time to think about what you want from college. In fact, many students choose to take a gap year instead of heading straight to college after high school.

This can be a great idea if you use your time wisely. Try taking on a part-time job or an internship, or look for a program where you can volunteer. Opportunities like these exist all over the world.

Moreover, any of these experiences can make your college application look stronger. To college admissions recruiters, they show that you’ll be an active member of campus life.

Take Standalone Classes

Still, not everyone wants to volunteer during their gap year. If you’ve been rejected by your dream schools, consider taking standalone classes during your first year out of high school.

Sometimes these classes can give you a glimpse into college life.

But more than that, they can help you learn new skills, add to your art portfolio, and boost your college application when you apply again. At the same time, you can meet mentors and make important connections.

Students painting project in classroom

Stay in Touch With Recruiters

Of course, for some of you, it isn’t over yet. If you’ve been waitlisted or deferred, keep in touch with your contact in the admissions office.

If you’ve been waitlisted, let your recruiter know you’ll go if you’re offered a spot.

On the other hand, if you’ve been deferred, don’t let your grades slip. You’ll probably be asked to provide them for your third and fourth quarters.

In the meantime, keep your recruiter updated on important life achievements. For example, winning awards, honors, and certificates can tip the decision in your favor.

Be Mindful of the Recruitment Cycle

Although May 1st is traditionally considered the universal deadline for college applications, some schools bend the rules.

As a result, college admissions deadlines can be easy to miss, especially if you’re juggling more than one college application. So make sure you’re crystal-clear on what those dates are for each school! Applying in a timely way helps ensure your spot.

Still, there’s more to think about regarding deadlines. While putting together your back-up plan, be mindful of the overall recruitment cycle as well. Most colleges open their applications during early fall, so whatever you do, make sure to structure your plan around that.

Apply to a Cross Section of Schools

Last but not least, this one is for those of you who haven’t applied to colleges yet or are planning to try again. You can increase your chances of being accepted if you use the below college admissions strategy!

Divide the schools you’re applying to into three categories:

  1. Schools that are harder to get into
  2. Schools that you have a decent chance at getting into
  3. Safety net schools that will probably accept you

Make sure that each category has at least two schools. That way, no matter what happens, you’ll still have a place to go and something to look forward to.

Student reviewing portfolio

Do the Work, and Greatness Will Come

As Academy alumni and blockbuster animation director Jan Philip Cramer said, “Just do the work, and greatness will come.”

In other words, inspiring artists come from all walks of life. The one and only thing that they all have in common is hard work and determination.

Ultimately, it’s not just the school that matters, but also what you put into it. No doubt, a good art school will set the stage for you. It will give you the resources, skills, and everything that you need to learn and thrive.

The rest of it, however, has to come from you.

To find out how the Academy can support you on your creative journey, request information today.