Can You Ask a College Why You Were Denied?

Admissions decisions usually come out anywhere from four to eight weeks after the application deadline. It all depends on the decision plan. Nothing can be more devastating to a student bound for college than waiting in suspense for a long time only to end up getting a politely written rejection letter from his or her dream school.

There is no rule keeping denied students from asking admissions officers the reason for the decision. However, it’s very much likely for them to get a generic response or none at all. It’s a better idea for denied students to ask admissions officers what they could do for increased admissions chances.

Planning to send a letter to a college demanding an explanation for your denial? Do it at your own risk!

But before you start typing away on your laptop, continue reading. Below, we will talk about why, although you have every right to ask admissions officers for their reason for sending a rejection letter your way, it’s a much better idea to instead move on, learn a thing or two from the whole experience and apply to another college.

What are the Reasons for Getting a Denial?

There are many possible reasons why applicants get denied by colleges and universities. Leading the list are failure to meet the academic requirements and not having a solid application. Some applicants get a denial as there are no more slots available to fill in as a result of limited resources.

Selective schools are known to send out a lot of rejection letters. Proof of this is the fact that only a very small percentage of applicants during each college application season gets accepted.

As a general rule of thumb, the lower the acceptance rate, the higher the chances of getting denied.

Receiving a letter from a selective school saying that you are not being considered for admission is most likely because of having an application that’s not strong enough for the institution’s liking. Do not take it personally, though, because you were not the only one denied an offer to attend.

For instance, at the majority of the Ivy League schools such as Harvard University and Dartmouth College, it’s not unlikely for over 90% of all applicants to wind up receiving a much-dreaded rejection letter!

Asking any one of these prestigious schools for the reason/s for not welcoming you on campus is a complete waste of your time and energy. That’s because it’s obvious that your academic qualification is not as competitive as the academic qualifications of the students they usually admit.

It’s also a complete waste of precious resources for the admissions officers, whose decision you are questioning, to graciously take the time to read as well as reply to your letter seeking an explanation behind your denial. And it’s due to this exactly why chances are that you will not get any response from them.

And just in case you got lucky and one of the members of the admissions team decided to reply anyway, chances are that you would get a cookie-cutter response in which there is a blank space provided ready to accommodate the name of whoever the generic letter is meant for.

Refrain from assuming that selective colleges and universities are the only ones that send a rejection letter.

Even institutions with high acceptance rates and an open admissions policy deny applicants, too, from time to time.

In the case of public or state colleges and universities, for instance, having no more slots available leaves them with no other choice but to stop accepting applicants. This is true even if the hopefuls have impressive applications.

Different institutions for higher education have different reasons for denying applicants. However, all of them share one thing in common when it comes to denying applicants: deciding not to accept an aspirant is not a personal matter.

Can You Inform a College That You Wish to Reapply?

After a denial, a student can send a college or university a letter stating one’s desire to reapply. This avoids potentially annoying admissions officers and lets the school learn about your solid interest in attending it. A student may also ask what he or she could do next time for an acceptance.

Provided that you will do it politely and tactfully, asking a college why you received a rejection letter from it may keep the readers, the school’s admissions officers, from thinking that you are insinuating you know better than them.

But if you want to avoid any undesirable reactions or consequences as much as possible, it’s a much better idea to scrap your plan to obtain an explanation altogether.

There is, however, another kind of letter that you can write and send to the institution of your wildest dreams. And it’s none other than a letter of intent to apply once again.

Many colleges and universities consider demonstrated interest as a non-academic admissions factor.

And nothing can show your interest in earning a degree from a school more than letting it know you are going to reapply to it after being denied during your first attempt — no hard feelings whatsoever from your end!

However, keep in mind that not a lot of competitive schools care about demonstrated interest. You can take all the campus tours you want and apply as early as you possibly can just to prove you want to attend no other school but it.

But if demonstrated interest is not one of the school’s non-academic admissions factors, everything is pointless.

While attempting to show interest and loyalty, there is a question that you may choose to ask: what you could do next time you apply to increase your chances of getting accepted.

Keep in mind that the college may or may not reply. Just in case that no response comes your way, carefully check out the school’s Common Data Set (CDS), in particular the part where the relative importance of various academic and non-academic admissions factors are indicated to get the answer yourself.

When it’s time to reapply to your top-choice school, see to it that every component of your application, from your test score, admissions essays to work experience, is so much more impressive than before.

Related Article: How to Get Accepted Into College After Being Denied

Just Before You Make a Move After Being Denied

You are just doing your job as a college-bound high schooler when building a college list and sending an application to each one included on it. But keep in mind that admissions officers are also just doing their jobs when sending either an acceptance letter or a rejection letter (or deferring an application) after evaluating an applicant.

While it’s perfectly understandable to feel hurt and unwanted after being denied by your top-choice school, understand first that the admissions process is nothing personal.

No one can stop you from sending the college a letter demanding an explanation why you were not one of the admitted freshmen students. However, keep in mind that it’s also the right of the institution’s admissions officers to decide whether or not they will send a response. And just in case they do, it’s probably the generic kind.

Above, we talked about the fact that it’s a much better idea to devote your energy to getting admitted into any other school on your college list. There are many good ones out there that will be more than happy to accept you.

Related Questions

When is the best time to reapply to a college that denied you?

Most institutions keep applications for one year. So, admissions officers can see the original denied application if the applicant reapplies the following semester. The general consensus is that a student should attend another college and apply as a transferee to one’s dream school after a year.

Related Article: How to Transfer From Community College to Ivy League

Do typographical errors affect admissions chances?

It’s very much unlikely for a typo or two in one’s application to keep an applicant from getting an acceptance letter. This is especially true if the student has an outstanding academic and non-academic profile. However, it pays to have someone else check the application for typos before submission.

Related Also: What is a Good Unweighted GPA?

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.

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