College rejection: seniors deal with “no”


Jamie Hiremath

A view of a real rejection letter from a college from this past year’s batch of notifications.

By Jamie Hiremath

Staff Writer

As seniors near the end of a long journey, they await the college decisions that will kickstart their new beginning, or cause a serious reevaluation of goals and priorities.

The conclusion of a grueling, long process comes in an email or as a letter in one’s mailbox. Just a few sentences will tell the students if they are accepted, waitlisted or rejected from the school of their dreams.

Mid-Pacific Director of College Counseling Derrick Kang says there is no way to predict a student’s chance of getting into a college, but a student can look up past acceptance statistics and patterns.

“UCLA received 149 freshmen applications [from Hawaii] and when I talked to the director of admissions he said they only accepted 35 [of them],” said Kang.

Now that some schools have gone test optional and the college process has seen changes partly because of the pandemic, things have become increasingly more competitive.

“We would never tell a student they shouldn’t apply to a reach or far-reach school, but their goal is that they have a well-rounded list of schools that they are applying to,” said Kang.

Of course, depending on a student’s expectations, the decision letter will spark a different reaction.

Kang understands the difficulty of the process as this may be the first time that a student is tested in such a way.

“Rejection is difficult; my feeling is that there is a place for everyone and that things sometimes happen for a reason, and that’s not to say if a student gets denied they aren’t gonna get to that particular school and graduate, they just have to take a stepping stone,” said Kang.

The sorrowful news of being rejected weighs differently from student to student. What got them motivated in the first place is typically an indicator of their future reaction.

“My mom’s expectations scared me a bit especially because I hate to disappoint her,” said senior Maya Howell.

Expectations, personal goals, role models, or aspirations to a dream school may be just out of reach for some seniors.

Senior Gabi Turnbull had high expectations for herself but knew wherever she went, she would want to save money and live a flexible lifestyle.

“I did apply to some rigorous schools, but I knew whether I was accepted or not, it was just important to me how much I could save and enjoy my time,” said Turnbull.

For some, financing their education was the only obstacle, and for others, a rejection letter was all that could stop them.

Senior Lukas Kuypers was set on a dream school despite any financial challenges but was devastated to learn that his future tookan unexpected path.

“I didn’t get into where I had hoped, and I was really sad about it, but there isn’t anything I could do. I just wasn’t expecting to be rejected so it was hard to get over at first,” said Kuypers.

Often, students build their whole idea of a perfect future around the college of their dreams.

Howell looks back at her process of deciding schools and wishes she chose schools that she was equally excited to attend, despite them being an easy reach school.

“I definitely had my eyes set on select schools and got excited about a future with them, when in reality I will now be attending a school I like but don’t know as much about,” said Howell.

What many have concluded from this experience is that things might not turn out as expected.

“I am fully prepared to not be prepared for all of this. I genuinely have no idea what’s ahead for me but it’s honestly exciting. I’m creating a plan as I go and it’s solid but not long term,” said Turnbull.

Like Turnbull, some are excited about college, however, Kang acknowledges that telling people where you have committed to can be the scariest part of all of it.

Kang sees that people can be nosy but urges students to keep it personal because you don’t owe anybody anything.

“I say make it all about you, no one needs to know what those decisions are but you,” said Kang.

Good things can come out of rejection. Every successful person you see today faced some sort of major rejection before.

“Take it with an open set of eyes and say it’s a totally new experience,” said Kang.