Delayed College Acceptance

Waiting List, Short List, Standby
Curated By
Keiko McCullough

Keiko McCullough is a doctoral student at Indiana University Bloomington studying Counseling Psychology. Keiko graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2015. Her research interests, broadly, focus on the intersections of race, gender, and new media. She additionally studies men of color and masculinities, Asian American mental health, positive psychology, and feminist issues.

In This Guide:

Graduate school admission can be quite competitive. Many individuals struggle with the aftermath of denial of admission from prospective schools. This guide will be helpful in encouraging someone who has recently been rejected from their school(s) of choice. 

They Might Be Thinking:

  • I am a failure. I am so ashamed.
  • I don’t know what to do with my life now.
  • I dedicated all of my efforts and energy into getting into graduate school. Now what?
  • I don’t think I can get a job without a graduate degree. 
  • This is my worst nightmare.
  • I don’t want my life to be delayed another year.
  • I can’t tell anyone about this. 
  • I am not good enough. 
  • What will my family and friends think?
  • I wish I had tried harder. 
  • What if they never accept me?

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • I believe in your ability to get where you want to go because of X, Y, and Z.
  • I am sorry things didn’t go as planned. How can I best support you during this difficult time?
  • I want you to know that this isn’t a reflection of your worth or ability. I know you are cut out for graduate school. 
  • [If you’ve also been rejected from a graduate school] I know it can be really hard when you feel rejected by a school. When I didn’t get into the program I wanted…
  • You are a persistent and dedicated person. When you do get into graduate school, your strengths (such as X, Y, and Z) will propel you forward. 
  • I know that you tried very hard to get in. 
  • Things didn’t work out this time, but I am hopeful for you. It will happen when the time is right. 
  • I know it might be hard to believe right now, but you are good enough just as you are. 
  • I am really proud of your effort. You’ve grown a lot from this process. 
  • I admire you for chasing your dreams and aspirations. 

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • I am sure you’ll get in next time. 
  • Maybe it’s time to think of doing something else.
  • Are your parents going to be disappointed?
  • Why didn’t you do X, Y, or Z?
  • Try not to worry about it too much.
  • I guess you weren’t cut out for it. 
  • Graduate school is too expensive anyway. 
  • You don’t even need to go to graduate school. 
  • Where do you think you went wrong?
  • I am sure you’ll get over it soon. 
  • Why didn’t they like you?
  • I am not surprised. I told you it would be hard. 
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