What If You Didn’t Get into Any Colleges?

on March 20, 2017

You didn’t get an offer of admission from any of the colleges to which you applied. What do you do now?


Your friends are busy deciding where they will enroll but you got in nowhere. You are embarrassed when they ask you where you are headed.


Don’t be discouraged. You still have options.


After you get over the shock that you were rejected, talk to your school counselor. They might be able to help you turn a rejection into an acceptance or help you get into another college even after deadlines have passed. You can wait a year and apply again. You can consider alternatives to a four-year college.


Ask Why You Weren’t Admitted


Ask the college admissions offices why you weren’t admitted. This will help you improve your future applications, even if they aren’t to the same colleges.


Some of the more common reasons why you might not have been admitted by any college include:

  • You didn’t apply to enough colleges. College admissions is unpredictable. If you apply to only one college, there’s a risk you won’t get in, even if you are a good match
  • You didn’t apply to any match or safety schools. If you apply only to reach colleges, there’s a good chance you’ll get into none
  • Your application was incomplete. If there was a miscommunication concerning one of your credentials, you might be able to appeal for reconsideration
  • You had really bad grades or test scores. If you didn’t do well on the SAT or ACT, take a test prep class and retake the test. Or, consider test-optional colleges that don’t require admissions tests
  • You wrote a lackluster essay.

Some Colleges Still Have Space Available


Even after the May 1 decision day, some colleges are still looking for students. This includes colleges that have rolling admissions and colleges that haven’t filled their freshman class.


Each year, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) publishes the College Openings Update (formerly the Space Availability Survey) from May 1 to June 30 on its website. The College Openings Update lists a few hundred colleges that still have space available. About one third of the colleges are public and two-thirds are private.


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Take a Gap Year


Taking a year off doesn’t seem like the most proactive thing to do. If you’re on the fence about what you want to study, need some extra time to get your finances in order or have no idea where you would even want to go to school, a gap year is certainly a feasible option.


A gap year is a great way of improving your motivation and maturity.


Make sure you’re not just sitting around for a year. Do something that will add to your credentials and help you get into college. Gain experience in your field of study by finding a part-time job or internship, or doing some volunteer work. Pick up some extra hobbies and keep yourself busy. Your experiences during a gap year might come in handy in a personal statement next year.


Keep in contact with your school counselor and teachers, so that they don’t forget you. You might want to ask them to write you letters of recommendation when you apply for admission.


Sign Up for Online Classes


There are many free classes available online. These classes can help you explore subjects of interest to you. You will then know what you want to do when you enroll in college next year.


This is a great way to get a head start on some college-level courses without having to leave home. Although not all online classes count for college credit, many of them might help you survive a placement exam. The worst case scenario is that you have to retake a similar class when you decide on your college, but think of how much easier that class will be now that you’ve aced it once.


Register at the Local Community College


Most community colleges have open enrollment, meaning that you can register as long as there is space available in the classes that you’re interested in.


Taking classes at a community college is a good option, especially if you know which four-year school and program you’d like to apply for next year. Get the details of what your program or major covers in the first year, find the community college equivalents and sign up. If the community college has an articulation agreement with the four-year college, you can find out exactly which of the community college classes will count for college credit when you transfer to the four-year college.


This is a great way to get ahead at a fraction of the price. Community colleges are low-cost, so you can save money on the cost of your college degree. Also, many community colleges offer online courses.


Pursue a Combination


You also can combine several of these ideas. Maybe you only want to take a couple community college classes and do some volunteer work. Or maybe you’ll be working and taking online classes. The key is to be proactive and keep learning. It demonstrates that you’re determined to learn and your actions may just speak for themselves on your next college application.

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