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    Can I Reapply to a College that Rejected Me?

    By Lisa Freedland

    Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: January 3rd, 2024
    Can I Reapply to a College that Rejected Me?

    Bummed that you weren’t accepted to your dream school? Well, on the bright side, you can always reapply to a college (trust me, I know from personal experience)! There are a few things that you should do before reapplying. Most importantly, you should definitely try and strengthen your application – but how exactly can you do that?

    To find out what you should do before reapplying to a college that rejected you, keep on reading!

    Retake the ACT or SAT

    Maybe your ACT or SAT score wasn’t exactly what you hoped for when you applied to colleges the first time. In that case, consider retaking the test(s).Your high school grades can no longer be changed. However, SAT or ACT scores definitely can be (and can make a difference!). Make sure to practice before you take them again, though. Here are a few helpful practice resources for the SAT and ACT:

    Know what score to aim for

    Each university has a unique range of scores that they usually accept. Find out by doing a “*insert university name* average SAT (or ACT)” search. What typically shows up is the middle 50% of accepted standardized test scores for that college (think the 25th-75th percentile). We highly recommend you try to aim for a score within this range (and on the higher end, if possible). While getting a score below this range doesn’t mean rejection, it may lower your chances. 

    If you want more information about your dream college’s accepted applicants’ average stats (GPA, SAT, etc.), you can also look up “*insert college name* student profile” and try to find the one for the most recent class.

    If you feel that your application would feel better off without your standardized test scores (and the school doesn’t require them), feel free to leave them off. There are always other ways to upgrade your application, so let’s keep going!

    See Also: How to improve your SAT score in 6 steps

    Submit a totally new application

    If you plan on reapplying to a school that rejected you, it’s of utmost importance that you send in a new and improved brand new application. College application boards will likely read your new application alongside your previous one, looking for “proof” that the new you will be a good addition to their student body. 

    So, to upgrade your application, we recommend first looking into what your target university is looking for in their students. Is it a higher GPA, more extracurriculars or work experience, better recommendation letters? Either way, here are some things that you can try to upgrade or change before submitting your application a second-time around:

    • Definitely write a new essay
    • Gain more work, internship, volunteer, or extracurricular experiences
    • Retake standardized tests 
    • If you take a gap year, get letters from the people who have interacted with you during that year
    • Most importantly, show them how you’ve grown in the past year (whether personally, academically, or anything of that sort!)

    What to do in the meantime

    No matter how early or late you submitted your college applications during this application cycle, the next one is likely a few months away. So, what should you do in the meantime? Well, you have a few options (and good ones at that!) to keep yourself occupied. Let’s get into them.

    Attend another university

    A possible choice is attending another university for a year (and subsequently transferring to the school you’re thinking of reapplying to). Doing so will be a good opportunity to show your target school that you’re passionate about getting an education. And, if you decide to attend a community college, you’ll accumulate some college credit at a cost that is likely lower than what you’d pay at a four-year university. Further, attending another university for a year will give you the chance to raise your GPA and participate in some extra-curricular activities, especially if you feel that those were somewhat lacking in your original application.

    If you anticipate that you may end up transferring, be sure to check out these helpful articles:

    Alternatively, you may end up liking the school you attend instead – and no longer feel the need to transfer. If so, great!

    On the other hand, if you are dead set on going to a particular college and don’t want to have to transfer in, another option you have is taking a gap year.

    Consider a gap year

    Depending on who you ask, taking a gap year may seem risky. However, if you use this time to apply yourself and get involved in something meaningful to you, colleges will see that – and appreciate it too! So, what does something “meaningful” look like? Well, it includes a range of things: 

    • Volunteering
    • Working
    • Interning
    • Traveling

    Whether you decide to work at your local coffee shop, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or even go abroad and study another language – what’s most important is that you reflect on how you grew from your experiences. Taking a gap year and accumulating new experiences may be especially helpful for those whose applications included few “life experiences,” by helping fill this perceived gap.

    Talk to the admissions counselor

    Before you go about starting your new application to a school that previously rejected you, it may be a good idea to get in contact with the admissions counselor(s) who reviewed your application the first time. We would recommend writing a letter to said counselor, explaining why you believe that school is the best fit for you, your plans to reapply, and that you will certainly commit if accepted. If you wish to speak with the counselor face-to-face (whether virtually or in-person), be sure to include a request for a meeting as well.

    We recommend preparing a list of questions you have for them. You may want to ask what they recommend you do in the meantime, such as what schools would be best to attend before transferring and anything else you should do to increase your chances of admission. We recommend not focusing on what you did wrong, and rather emphasizing what steps you should take from here on out – this will show that you’re serious about reapplying and may give off a better first impression.

    After the meeting (if you get one), be sure to write the counselor(s) a handwritten thank-you letter. Make sure to  keep in touch with them every couple of months to show the progress you’re making.

    Hopefully, with the counselor’s help, you’ll receive an acceptance letter the second time-around. With that, we wish you good luck, and a happy college application season!

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Just because a college rejected you once does not mean that you cannot reapply to their school in the future
    • If you do reapply to a school, you should be sure that your new application has some changes to it, such as improved grades, a higher ACT/SAT score, and things of that nature
    • It’s also important to submit a whole new application if you plan on reapplying to a school. Admissions counselors want to see you desire to attend that school; spending time on a whole new application can go a long way
    • Everybody’s journey to college is different, so remember not to get discouraged or compare yourself to others who are having an easier time with college admissions
    Key Takeaways

    Frequently asked questions about reapplying to a college that rejected you 

    Can you ask a university to reconsider?

    Yes. While students certainly can ask a university to reconsider, these are rarely, if ever, successful in changing an admission decision. Many counselors only recommend that students appeal their decision if an important piece of information was missing from their application. Otherwise, trying to appeal an admissions decision is often a waste of a student’s time and effort. A better option is to take a gap year or attend another university and transfer. This way, you can get more experience under your belt if you ultimately decide to reapply.

    Can I ask to be placed on the waitlist?

    Sure, you can email or call the admissions office and ask, but usually, if the college deemed you eligible for the waitlist, they would add you after reviewing your application. It never hurts to ask though!

    What to do if no college accepts you?

    If none of the colleges you apply to accept you, you have a few options to take. You can look into other colleges that are still accepting applications, consider taking a gap year, look into attending a local community college, or plan to apply again the following year. We know that these things may not feel ideal, but we encourage you to keep your mind open. There is no one way to get to college. Everyone’s path will look slightly different.

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