Denied by Your Dream College? Here’s How to Bounce Back Stronger

A rejection letter can be devastating, especially if it’s from your top-choice college.

However, it should not put your dream of becoming a college degree holder to an end because you can always send an application one more time and hope for the best.

So, can you get accepted after being rejected?

You can get accepted by your top-choice school after rejecting you!

However, it’s a must that you improve your application the next time you send it the following admissions cycle — however, you can not apply to the same college in the same year you were denied.

To increase your admissions chances the next year, make your application more competitive by:

  • Retaking the SAT or ACT
  • Submitting more compelling recommendations and essays
  • Building leadership and other skills
  • Demonstrating interest in attending

You can also contact the admissions office in order to:

  • Show your gratitude for the opportunity to apply
  • Ask what you could do to increase your admissions chances, or
  • Politely explain why you should have been accepted

In this post, we’ll talk about various ways how to get accepted into college after being denied.

sad student
Sad student sitting on stairs in college

Take a Gap Year

A gap year is taking a year off between high school graduation and college.

However, it’s just not merely taking a break — a gap year is for deepening your personal and academic awareness, which is why some people also refer to it as experiential learning.

More and more colleges and universities these days are becoming proponents of a gap year.

As a matter of fact, the following institutions have gap year programs:

  • American University
  • Beloit College
  • Colorado College
  • Duke University
  • Florida State University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Harvard University
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Middlebury College
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Princeton University
  • Tufts University
  • Wesleyan University
  • William & Mary

However, I cannot stress enough the importance of spending your gap year wisely.

Because the goal of taking one is to improve your academic and professional success, you should participate in activities that can make your college application look better and your career path more defined.

The following are some awesome ideas for spending your gap year:

  • Complete an internship
  • Do volunteer work
  • Establish a business
  • Get a job
  • Improve athletic abilities
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Travel abroad

Plan carefully before you embark on a gap year.

Otherwise, you could end up spending a lot of money and wasting a lot of precious time, and, more importantly, failing to meet the goal of getting into college with the help of a better application and clearer objectives.

Read Also: What Makes College Good a Good Fit

Improve Your College Application

Reasons for getting rejected by a college can vary.

In most cases, it boils down to your application not standing out enough — whether academic- or non-academic-wise, it can be challenging to get an acceptance letter if many candidates are more competitive than you.

Can you apply to the same college after being rejected?

Yes, you certainly can apply to the same college after getting a rejection!

However, there are a couple of things you must remember beforehand:

  • You can reapply the following admissions cycle
  • You must submit a new and improved application

Fortunately, there are many ways to make your college application better, thus allowing you to increase your chances of getting in the next time you apply to your dream school.

But before talking about those, I would like to make one thing clear.

A resounding “no” is the answer to “can you reapply to a college after being rejected?” if you applied via early decision or early action and you were not admitted — wait for the next admissions cycle before you reapply.

On the other hand, there’s no need to reapply if your ED or EA application resulted in a deferral.

That’s because admissions officers will review your application again during the regular decision round.

Retake the SAT or ACT

Whether the college is test-required or test-optional, a higher test score is a plus.

According to the College Board, the creator and administrator of the SAT, two out of three high school students increase their SAT scores by taking the standardized test more than once.

Meanwhile, ACT, Inc., the ACT’s creator, says that test-takers with an initial score of 13 to 29 increase their composite score by one point — in many instances, a single additional ACT point could make a huge difference!

Related Article: Does Retaking the SAT Look Bad?

Obtain Better Recommendations

Never obtain a recommendation from a teacher simply because he or she is your favorite.

Instead, select someone who has recently taught you and has demonstrated interest and appreciation in your academic abilities, class discussion engagement, and character.

Does the college of your liking accept optional letters of recommendation?

Check which recommenders are allowed to write optional recommendations and approach those who can talk about your achievements and potential to share something good with the community.

Write More Compelling Essays

Spend more time researching your top-choice college.

Look into its various programs, specializations, and extracurricular offerings and see how they can help you become a well-rounded student and prepare for success after earning your college degree.

Ensure that your supplemental essays highlight how the institution is the best-fit school for you.

It also matters that your written compositions have no misspelled words or grammatical errors and are free of cliches and needless repetitions.

Work of Volunteer

If you don’t get accepted to a college, can you apply again?

Yes, you can apply again, but ensure you have more impressive skills the second time around.

A college application has enough space for activities — eight on the Coalition App and 10 on the Common App.

While waiting for the next application cycle to arrive, get a job or do community service to obtain leadership, communication, teamwork, commitment, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Demonstrate Interest

In numerous instances, one of the many ways how to get accepted into college is by showing your commitment to attending the institution if it offers you the opportunity to enroll.

Check whether or not the school considers demonstrated interest in the admissions process.

If it does, display your earnestness in going to it by:

  • Taking a campus tour — in-person or virtually
  • Following its social media accounts and interacting with them
  • Reading every email and clicking on every link
  • Attending information sessions and webinars
  • Registering for college fairs held locally
  • Including details about the college in your essays
  • Applying early decision or early action the following admissions cycle
  • Connecting with admissions officers, professors, and other staff members

Create a More Balanced College List

No matter how many times you reapply to a college, you will keep getting rejected if it’s not the right school.

If you get denied from a college, can you apply again?

That’s a valid question.

However, at times, it’s worth asking the right question.

Is the college the best-fit school?

Consider rebuilding your college list by having the right balance of dream, match, and safety schools — give more emphasis on adding match schools where the academic profiles of admitted students match yours.

Related Article: How Many Safety Schools Should You Apply To?

SAT books

Writing an Appeal Letter

If I don’t get accepted to college, can I apply again?

Yes, you absolutely can apply again after a denial, but you have to wait for next year to do so.

But did you know that you might get accepted even without reapplying?

And did you know that it might happen within the same admissions cycle?

What you need to do is write the so-called letter of admission appeal letter, which explains why you feel that admissions officers should admit you.

An admission appeal letter also goes by other names:

  • Appeal letter
  • Appeal letter for college rejection/denial
  • Appeal letter for admission
  • Admission appeal letter

Regardless of the name, an appeal letter should discuss things that might have caused the rejection, such as errors in your transcripts or extenuating circumstances that resulted in your low GPA or test scores.

Here’s a sample admission appeal letter from Zippia:

[Admissions Officer]

[College] Admissions Office



Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. [Admissions Officer],

My name is [College Applicant]. I applied for the undergraduate program at the [College] for the [semester] or [year]. I recently received notice that my application for admission was rejected.

It was shocking and heartbreaking to receive the news that I hadn’t been admitted to the [College] class of [year].

I have worked tirelessly since before my freshman year of high school in the hopes of becoming part of this wonderful educational community. In that time, I maintained a grade point average of 4.0, scored in the top 2% of the country on the SAT, and received [awards and recognitions]. I’ve attached a record of these below.

I am an ambitious and hardworking student who does whatever it takes to meet my goals, and attending [College] has been my biggest goal for the past decade.

While I understand that the [year] admission year has seen record amounts of competitive applicants, I hope this letter will encourage you to reconsider my admittance to the undergraduate [school or department] program.

I appreciate your consideration and would be happy to provide any additional materials or information. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at [phone number] or [email]. I’d be happy to hear any suggestions you have regarding this matter as well.

Thank you again.


[College Applicant]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

Similar Posts