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There are two kinds of rejections: those that sting, and those that burn.

It’s inevitable, and it’s a part of life. We all end up rejected at some point, and it’s pretty much assured that you’ll end up with at least one rejection in the college admissions process.

So how do you deal with these rejections? How can you make them suck any less? Well…it’s a matter of perspective. The goal is to make sure that you only let major things burn, and make sure that you’re prepared for the stings.

A Rejection That Stings

All rejections hurt, but some types of rejections hurt a little less than others. I find that most rejections sting more than burn. You find out and you’re instantly bummed. It makes a little pit in your stomach, because nobody wants to hear the word no. But it’s a minor bummer. It stinks, but it’s not a big deal at all. You might be a little sad for a day, but it doesn’t really last more than that. Often it’s more about hearing “no” than actually not getting the opportunity to do whatever you wanted to do.

This is most common in admissions when you’re told no by a school you weren’t super thrilled about. Or perhaps if you hear no from a school you liked a lot, but you’ve also gotten other acceptances. The door is closed, but you bounce back quickly.

The goal is to handle a stinging rejection by not letting it get to you. Life is full of little stinging rejections, and you need to make sure you’re ready for them. Personally, the best way to deal with a stinging rejection is to remind yourself that it’s insignificant. You need to say, “Eh, this is probably for the best,” and move on. Focus on your other options and don’t dwell. You’ll feel better sooner than you think.

Rejections that Burn 

These ones are rough. You can hear the word no a hundred times, and 99 of them will roll right off your back. But there’s the one. The big one. The rejection that burns.

You hate it. You cry for days. You just want to crawl back into bed and not face the world because how could you be told no.

Just like a real burn, it takes time to heal properly.

The first thing I do with a burning rejection is try to justify it.  I’ll admit that it’s not always healthy, but you’ll find ways to put the rejection off of you and onto the selectors. This is always my plan of action. When the wound is fresh you don’t want to go into that hole of self blame. So choose your justification. “They picked the people who were connected,” or “They didn’t even read my application” or “It’s such a crapshoot and I’m just unlucky.” Just like putting a band-aid on a wound, avoiding self blame is the first temporary step.

The next step is to focus. You need to figure out what you’re doing instead. For admissions, this means putting your energy into researching the schools that offered you admission. You need to take those “yes” offers seriously. This will help you move on. You’ll start to imagine yourself going to one of the schools that are still in play.

Now it’s time to distract yourself.

If you were rejected from a job or internship you just need to keep applying. Take your rage and channel it into applications. This has always worked well for me. You can also take your rage and sadness and start applying for scholarships. Focus, give yourself a task. Keep yourself busy. Don’t let your thoughts dwell on anything for too long.

The thing about a burn is that it takes time. In time, the rejection will hurt a little less every day. You’ll go off to college, and a year later you’ll be shocked you ever really considered going anywhere else. You might have a little scar where you’ll never be totally happy when you think about that school, but you’ll live and you’ll get perspective and in the end you’ll probably decide that it was really for the best.

Let me close with that.

The thing about a rejection is that in the end, you’ll realize that it was really for the best.

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the author

Jillian is better known by her pseudonym “CollegeApp Chick", which is half college application blog and half small private college advising business. She’s currently studying Psychology and Religious Studies at a small public school south of the Mason Dixon line. When not advising, studying, or blogging Jillian is an active member of the Shakespeare theatre club, sandbox improv, women’s chorus, and is an officer in a social sorority. She likes to talk, a lot. Most importantly, Jillian wears dresses more than 250 days a year. For more of Jillian’s tips, find her at her website or her Tumblr.

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