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3 Mindset Shifts to Turn College Rejection into Motivation

We’re all afraid of failing. But, personally, I’d much rather try and fail than never try at all. As we’re getting closer to finding out those college decisions, I wanted to put this together to remind students and parents of the importance of mindset when dealing with rejection, if it should come.
First, getting rejected from your dream college sucks. It’s OK to be upset about that. There are things you can do now and, for those non-seniors, things you can do while applying that will soften the blow. I want to nurture your ability to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and get excited about the schools you do get into.

1. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

The biggest mindset change that will ease this pain is to get excited about going to each and every school you apply to. If you’re not excited about a school or at least what it could potentially provide you with, it’s probably not worth the application process. That means thinking about how the state school that half your high school class is going to can actually provide you with a great education, at potentially no cost, and put you in an even better position to get into a top law, business, or med school. It’s easy to think about the cons of going to any school besides your dream college. But reframing those schools lower on your list and thinking about all the pros of attending them, even writing the pros down, can really help you move on with your head held high and get a lot out of whichever college you attend.

2. Remember the Grad School You Attend Often Matters More Than the Undergrad

Another encouraging mindset to consider, especially if you are planning to go into a career that requires additional schooling, is it can be so much more important where you go to grad, law, business, or med school for your career. Do you care where your doctor went to undergrad? Probably not. And med school is a perfect example where doing spectacularly at a less competitive school can actually be better than doing OK at a highly competitive school when it comes to your chances of getting in. It’s possible that you’ll have more time to focus on your MCAT and shadowing doctors and volunteering at hospitals at a less competitive school.
Remember you can always go to your dream school for another degree. Unless your dream college is undergrad only, you can always get another chance. Maybe you don’t get into Harvard for undergrad and you really, really wanted to. Well use that as motivation. Think about what you need to do in undergrad to get into Harvard Law. Make yourself a four-year plan. When you get sick of going to every professor’s office hours or working hard on every problem set, remember your goal. A dream like that can be a very powerful motivator.

3. You Have Control Over Your Post-College Life

The biggest idea to remember is that you will make an impact on the world and do incredible things, even if you don’t go to your dream school. It’s all about your own effort. You can get an incredible education at any school; you just have to do more or less of the work on your own depending on the school. Taking responsibility for your own learning and achievement can push you to do even more incredible things. College is only four years out of the decades you have to make an impact. Remember that you define who you are and your future. No one else does.

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This post also appears on The Huffington Post.

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