8 Ready-to-Send College Rejection Letter Samples Admissions Teams Can Use Right Awa

If you work in college admissions, you know that sending rejection letters is tough. Nobody wants to tell someone they weren’t accepted into a college/university.

Writing these letters can be tricky, but there are ways to make it easier. If you use templates that can be customized for each application, the process is not only more efficient, but it is easier for you and the applicant as well.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to write a professional and respectful college rejection letter, and even provide you with 8 templates that can help you get started today.

Tips on Writing a College Rejection Letter

Be sympathetic - Receiving a college rejection letter can be a tough situation for someone applying to college. It is important to remember that and remain sympathetic while writing rejection letters.

Remain professional - One of the most critical aspects of writing a college rejection letter is to remain professional. You should attempt to offer sympathy while also remaining professional.

Show appreciation - You should also show your appreciation for applicants’ time and effort throughout the application process, as it takes a lot of time and energy to apply to colleges.

Be clear about your college’s admission process - One of, if not the most important aspects of rejection letters is illustrating the process your college uses for admissions, as well as explaining how many applications you received. This can help an applicant understand why they were not accepted.

Be honest - As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. This goes for college rejection letters as well. Telling applicants how difficult the decision was and detailing how strenuous the admission process is can help them understand why they were not accepted as well.

Offer advice - One way to remain sympathetic and understanding is to offer advice on how applicants can improve future applications. It can make the rejection process more clear if an applicant understands why they didn’t get accepted and what they can do in the future to improve their chances of getting accepted.

Illustrate your college’s values - The final way to ensure applicants fully understand your application process is to illustrate the values and principles that your college follows.

Use technology to make the process easier - Text Blaze can help you automate the process of writing rejection letters. Keyboard shortcuts allow you to create templates that you can use, and customize, using form commands and dynamic commands . You can create and use templates that you can customize for each application, and ultimately make the rejection process pain-free.

College Rejection Letter Templates

Writing and sending rejection letters is never easy. Not only is it difficult news to share, but writing and sending mass amounts of rejection letters can consume lots of time, as many colleges and universities receive thousands of applications per year.

Text Blaze can help you simplify and automate the process of sending rejection letters in no time (really, in under an hour). Form commands can allow you to customize the names of applicants, while date and time commands can allow you to keep application updates and reminders up to date. Give these templates a try, customize them to your needs, and get started today. With Text Blaze , you’re guaranteed to save loads of time and eliminate repetitive typing forever!

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College Admissions


You've sent out your applications and can't stop envisioning yourself at your top-choice school. But then the unthinkable happens: you get a college rejection letter. You start to wonder: what went wrong? What do I do now? Is it still possible to attend my top-choice school?

The truth is that I've been in this exact same situation. In 2008, I got rejected from my top-choice school, Stanford. The rejection letter hurt, but on the plus side, it taught me a lot about what I did wrong, both in my application and my overall high school career.

In this article, I use my own rejection experience as a guide to explain how likely a college rejection is for you, how to avoid getting rejected from college, and the steps to take in case your top-choice school just isn't that into you.

How Likely Is It That You'll Get a College Rejection Letter?

First things first, how likely is it that you'll actually get rejected from college—more importantly, from your top-choice school?

The answer to this question varies depending on two main factors:

How Competitive Is Your Top-Choice School?

As you might've guessed, your chances of getting rejected from college depend a lot on how hard your top-choice school is to get into.

Many students' top choices are Ivy League institutions , such as Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia, or other prestigious top-25 schools , such as Stanford, Rice, and the University of Chicago.

Now, what do many of these schools have in common? That's right: extremely low acceptance rates. These rates dramatically affect your likelihood of getting accepted (or rejected).

Below are the acceptance rates for the top 25 universities, as determined by the most recent US News rankings for 2022 . All schools are listed in order of ranking. (Pro tip: click the school name to learn more about its admission requirements!)

As you can see, your chance of acceptance to top-tier colleges ranges from just 4% to as much as 21%. Your chance of college rejection is highest for schools ranked in the top 10. At these colleges, the typical applicant has a whopping 90-95% chance of getting rejected.

These are very, very general estimates, though. How high or low your chances of rejection are will ultimately depend on the overall strength of your application (we discuss this more below). To get a slightly more accurate idea of your admission chances to a particular school, use our college admissions calculator .

Still, the point is clear: most applicants to highly selective schools get rejected. Your chance of getting a college rejection letter will be less likely if your top-choice school is ranked lower and has a higher admission rate.


How Strong Is Your College Application?

The other major factor that affects your chances of getting rejected from college is the strength of your application.

A strong college application usually has the following features:

For the Ivy League and other highly competitive schools, you'll definitely need to stand out from other applicants. And the best way to do this is to create a big spike in your application . A spike is essentially something you're passionate about and have continuously striven to master. It could be anything from a love of writing short stories to a passion for chemistry.

Most importantly, your spike should be a field you're truly committed to and for which you have sufficient evidence to prove your commitment.

If you have a spike as well as high test scores, a high GPA, etc., you'll have a much better chance of being a top-choice candidate for your school.

All of this also means that you should avoid aiming for a well-rounded application. This can put you right in the crapshoot of college applications, significantly reducing your chance of acceptance (and thereby increasing your chance of rejection).

For more tips on how to put together a strong application, look at a real Harvard application and acceptance letter , supplied by our resident perfect SAT / ACT scorer .

My Experience: I Got Rejected From Stanford

Some of you reading this might be wondering why I'm writing this article. Well, let me start with some facts.

Rejection is nothing new to me. I applied to college in 2008 (yeesh, I'm getting old!). At the time, Stanford was my top choice, so I applied restrictive early action , meaning that my application was due earlier (by November 1) and that Stanford was my #1 pick for college.

A little while later, I received a rejection by email. It was the first university I heard back from in the application process, and its letter was by far the most painful. I remember bursting into tears as soon as I finished reading it and then running to my parents for comfort.

So many questions ran through my head: how come they didn't like me? What did I do wrong? Did I mess up my application somehow? Was I simply not good enough?

Months later, I got accepted to USC and decided to attend that school instead. And I had a blast: I joined a couple of clubs, wrote for the school newspaper, worked on campus, made good friends, and had an overall fun and eclectic experience I'd never trade for anything.

Sometimes, though, I think back to that initial college rejection and wonder: how did I manage to get through such a difficult, stressful time in my life? And how can I use what I know now to help other students in the same position I was once in?

Here's why I'm telling you all of this:

Now that you know my story, let's start with the positives: how to avoid getting rejected from college in the first place. If this doesn't work out for you, no worries—I'll also give you advice on what to do if you do get rejected.


How to Avoid Getting a College Rejection: 6 Tips

Since getting my first college rejection from Stanford, I can tell you this: I've learned a lot about what I did wrong in my application.

For one, my application wasn't unique enough . I didn't have a "spike" that made me stand apart from other applicants; instead, I naively believed in the misconception that being well-rounded was what all top schools wanted the most. (Hint: it's not!)

In addition, my SAT score wasn't up to par. At the time I thought I'd done fairly well on the test, but I didn't realize that pretty good isn't usually good enough for top schools like Stanford. These days, you'd need to score at least a 1500 (or in the top 2% ) just to meet the average at Stanford!

Finally, I didn't take advantage of the AP/honors classes available at my high schools (I moved and attended two schools). I remember thinking that two or three AP classes and a couple of high AP scores would be good enough. Again, though, this isn't that impressive to top-ranked schools.

So what can you do to ensure that you have a better chance of getting into your top-choice school? Here are my top six tips.

#1: Maintain a High GPA While Also Challenging Yourself

Most students probably know this, but you'll need a pretty high GPA to keep from getting rejected. Why? Well, a high GPA proves that you're not only responsible and studious but also capable of performing consistently well in a variety of disciplines. By excelling in several classes, you're providing direct evidence of your deep commitment to learning and academic success.

So what constitutes a high GPA? The answer to this will depend on the school you're applying to. If you're applying to a top-25 school such as Stanford, aim for a 4.0 ( unweighted ) or pretty close to it.

If you're not sure how high of a GPA your school expects, try looking on the school's website for any information or data about the average GPA of admitted applicants.

That being said, getting a high GPA alone isn't as important as getting a good GPA and taking a challenging course load.

Here's what I mean by this: when applying to top colleges, a 4.0 unweighted GPA is no doubt great. However, you'll be a much more competitive applicant if you have, say, a slightly lower 3.8 GPA and have also taken loads of challenging AP/honors courses.

This means that you could get mostly As and a couple of Bs in challenging AP courses and still have a higher chance of getting accepted over someone who got all As but took only easy classes. This is because colleges like to see that you're continuously challenging yourself.

For me, this was a critical point I didn't get at all in high school. I took a few AP and honors courses, but I didn't take nearly as many as I should have. Instead, I stuck mostly to classes I knew I'd get As in and refrained from truly challenging myself by taking harder ones. This is probably part of the reason Stanford rejected me.

#2: Get a High SAT/ACT Score

Like the tip above, this is kind of a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how little I thought of it when I applied to college back in 2008.

NOTE: As a result of the pandemic, nearly every school became test-optional for at least 2020 and 2021, and some schools have decided to become permanently test optional. This means that, if you're applying to one of these schools, you don't need to submit SAT or ACT scores, and your application won't be at a disadvantage. However, a high ACT or SAT score can still be a significant boost to your application, especially if you're on the bubble in other areas.

While colleges understand that the SAT/ACT is just one part of your application, it's still pretty important to get a high score on one of the two tests —especially a score that sets you apart from other applicants.

A good SAT / ACT score will vary depending on the schools you're applying to. For example, if you were applying to Harvard, you'd want to aim for 1580 on the SAT or 35 on the ACT . These are the 75th percentile scores for admitted applicants to Harvard. In other words, get this score level and you'll have a higher score than 75% of applicants.

Even if you got slightly lower than this—such as a 1570 on the SAT or a 34 on the ACT—you'd still be in relatively good shape. The point, however, is that you want to shoot as high as possible so you can give yourself the best chance of admission.

On the other hand, if you were applying to a less selective school like the University of Houston, you'd only need an SAT score around 1300 or an ACT score around 27 . Again, you could still get accepted with slightly lower scores than these, but aiming high ensures you'll have a great shot.

As you can see, what's considered a high SAT/ACT score will depend greatly on where you're applying. If you can hit (or almost hit) your top-choice school's 75th percentile score, you'll stand out and lower your chances of rejection.

To find your school's test score information, search for “[School Name] PrepScholar" on Google. Click our link to the school's Admission Requirements page to see the school's average SAT/ACT scores and its 25th/75th percentiles.

#3: Work On Developing Your Spike

This piece of advice is essential for those applying to the Ivy League or Ivy League-level institutions (and it's definitely something I wish I'd known back when I applied to Stanford). And here's what it is: part of crafting an incredible college application is working on developing a spike .

I briefly introduced this concept earlier, but now let's look at it in detail. Your spike is what makes you stand out from other applicants. This is typically an ongoing passion for and commitment to some kind of academic or personal interest.

For instance, perhaps you love to write, and you've published your own self-help ebook and tutors elementary school students in creative writing on weekends. Or maybe you're a science whiz who's conducted numerous experiments and submitted your results to conventions.

Get the picture here? Think of this spike as the opposite of being well rounded.

When I applied to Stanford, I assumed that well rounded = automatic acceptance. I was a member of my school's honor society, ran on the cross country team for two years, and played the piano in my spare time. All of this, I thought, made me a well-rounded, ideal candidate.

Boy, was I wrong.

In truth, colleges—particularly selective ones like Stanford— see tons of applicants like this. This is likely a big reason I got rejected: I wasn't unique enough! Instead, I should have spent more time developing the hobbies I enjoyed most and participating in activities more strongly tied to my most passionate interests.

That's what I did wrong. Now, here's what you can do right. Below, I list some options you can try to help you further develop your spike:

All in all, don't rely on the trap of being well rounded, particularly if you're trying to get accepted to highly selective schools.


#4: Write a Compelling Personal Statement and Consider Context

Even if you've got both stellar grades and a high SAT/ACT score, schools want to see that you're an interesting, passionate person who is committed to learning. This is why it's important to spend a lot of time crafting an impactful personal statement for your application.

In general, a good personal statement will accomplish the following:

The statement is a great opportunity to explain what your spike is, how you got interested in it, and what kind of role you see it playing in your future. For a detailed look at what makes for a powerful personal statement, check out our analysis of more than 100 college essays .

In addition, the personal statement lets you explain the context of your academic situation. For example, does your high school not offer any AP or honors courses? Or are you the first person in your family to attend college?

It's important to answer questions like these in your essay so that the school can take into account your personal circumstances as well as how these might have influenced the quality of your application. This way, you won't get rejected simply because you didn't take any AP courses (even though none might have been available to you!).

Many schools stress the importance of considering each applicant's circumstances. For example, here's what Stanford says on its website :

“Each year we aim to enroll a class of diverse backgrounds and experiences, talents, academic interests, and ways of viewing the world. In a holistic review, we seek to understand how you, as a whole person, would grow, contribute and thrive at Stanford, and how Stanford would, in turn, be changed by you.”

And here's how Duke considers your background in applications for admission:

"As a part of our holistic approach, we consider both your academic and personal interests, what you've accomplished, and your unique experiences, perspectives, and background."

Evidently, the personal statement isn't just an opportunity to showcase your spike and strengths—it's also a chance to explain your personal situation. Do all of this, and you'll be far less likely to get rejected for something like a slightly lower SAT score.

school application rejection letter

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#5: Apply Early Action/Early Decision, If Possible

If your top-choice school offers an early action or early decision plan, definitely do it (but only do the latter if you're 100% sure this is the school you want to attend).

Most early action/early decision deadlines are November 1 or November 15. These deadlines are about a month or two earlier than most regular decision deadlines .

So how does applying early action/early decision affect your admission chances? Data shows that those who apply early action or early decision typically have higher acceptance rates than those who apply regular decision .

This doesn't necessarily mean you'll get accepted. I applied early action to Stanford and still got rejected. Nevertheless, an early application might give you a slight edge over other applicants, as it shows the school you're committed to it and that you really want to continue your education there.

The only drawback to applying early action/early decision is that the early deadline gives you less time to put together a strong application. If you're struggling to prepare an effective application for an early action plan, consider applying regular decision instead to give yourself more time.

This leads me to my next point ...

#6: Take Your Time—Don't Rush the Application Process!

Whether you're applying early action/early decision or regular decision, it can be tempting to rush through the application process, especially since most students are extremely busy at the start of senior year.

Even though this is a stressful time, try your best not to rush through your application to your top-choice school. Simply put, don't write your personal statement the day before the deadline, and don't ask for letters of recommendation from teachers at the last minute.

Why is this so important? If you spend too little time working on your application, you run a much higher risk of doing the following:

I advise spending at least a few months on your college applications. And while all applications are equally important, it's OK to spend a little extra time on the application for your top choice, if only because it's the school you're most interested in.

Also, don't be afraid to ask questions by emailing or calling the school. For example, confused about application instructions? Send an email. Not sure what a "supplementary document" is? Call the admissions department. Better to make sure you're following the rules than to risk getting your application disqualified because you made a huge (but entirely preventable) mistake.

When I applied to Stanford, I thought I'd taken my time to do the application, but I really hadn't. It was only after I submitted it that I realized I'd made some dire mistakes.

Here's my most memorable: at the time, Stanford allowed applicants to attach supplementary files. So I attached a sample chapter from a novel I was writing to prove my passion for writing. But after submitting my application, I reread the application instructions and realized that chapters of fiction was something Stanford specifically requested applicants to not send in. Oops!


How to Deal With College Rejection: 5 Essential Tips

Unfortunately, even if you heed all the tips above, you could still wind up with a college rejection letter. I'll be honest: getting rejected sucks. But it certainly doesn't mean your academic career (or life, if you're dramatic like me) is over.

Here are some ways to cope with a college rejection, as well as options on what to do after you get rejected from college:

#1: Give Yourself Time to Process the Rejection

This is really, really important. Once you get the dreaded college rejection letter from your top-choice school, it can feel as though the whole world is crashing down around you. I'm here to tell you that this feeling is totally normal. After all, you're essentially grieving —sounds cheesy, I know. But it's the truth.

And when something bad happens, it's important to take time to let yourself feel sad about it. In this case, even though you likely worked really hard in school, you lost the opportunity to attend the college of your dreams. All of your future plans must change, which sucks. It's OK (and even expected) to be upset about this.

Here are some healthy options for coping with a college rejection:

Although grieving is important, don't let yourself get wrapped up in your sorrows for too long. Once you've given yourself ample time to cope, get off the ground and focus on the other options you've got in your life.

Also, try not to let the rejection negatively impact your grades, extracurriculars, and other college applications (if you haven't finished all of them yet).

#2: Get Excited About Other Schools

While your top-choice school might've rejected you, remember that this is just one school, and you (hopefully) have several others you're applying to or already applied to. These are the schools it's time to get excited about, regardless of whether you've heard back from them. There is a reason you applied to each school you applied to.

As you go through the schools you've been accepted to, concentrate on the specific features and opportunities you liked about each school. For example, what inspired you to apply there? Can you envision yourself feeling at home on campus? What kinds of classes and majors does it offer? Do you like its emphasis on Greek life? What about its awesome football team?

If possible, talk to current students at the schools so you can start to imagine yourself attending them. Doing this will not only make you excited about your other options but will also prevent you from daydreaming about what might've happened had you been accepted to your top choice.

Finally, remember that you will likely be able to study what you want to at these other schools as well. Just because your top-choice school rejected you, that doesn't mean you still can't get a BA in Psychology or a BS in Computer Science.


#3: Take a Gap Year and Reapply Later

If you didn't get accepted to your top-choice school, a gap year can help you figure out what kind of education you want in life while also providing you with some interesting experiences (which could potentially strengthen future college applications!).

After your gap year, you can then reapply to your top-choice school, with a fresh perspective and a slightly better understanding of where your application might've gone wrong before.

While there's nothing wrong with taking a year off before college, be sure you're actually making your gap year worthwhile. Neither colleges nor your parents will be impressed if all you do is sit at home and play video games all day. Make your gap year an adventure: work a new job, travel abroad, intern at a company, join a community club, learn a foreign language.

Hopefully, you'll get experiences out of your gap year that'll help you in the field you want to major in. For example, if you're thinking about majoring in English, taking a year off to write a novel and submit stories you've written to literary magazines would be an excellent use of your time (assuming your parents are OK with it, of course!).

Later, when you begin the process of reapplying to your top-choice school, you can explain in your application what you did during your gap year and why you chose to take a year off before starting college.

If you decide to reapply, it's a good idea to use your old application as a reference. Think about where you might've gone wrong and how you can improve on it this time (ideally, by incorporating some of your gap-year experiences into it).

A word of caution, though: don't put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, don't expect to get admitted simply because you applied before and now deserve to get in. Admissions is often a brutal process, and nobody (except those on the admissions committee) knows what a college is looking for in terms of applicants.

So as you reapply to your top-choice school, make sure you're applying to other schools as well —ideally, a combination of reach schools and safety schools .

#4: Remember That Transferring Is an Option

If you decide to attend a different school you got into (which most people do, including myself!), know that it might be possible to transfer to your top-choice school in a couple of years.

While I wouldn't attend a different college with this exact plan in mind, knowing that transferring is an option in case you still really want to attend your top-choice school should make you feel a little more at ease with your decision to (temporarily) attend a different school.

Note that to transfer to a school, you'll usually need to submit an entirely new transfer application meaning that it can't be the same one you submitted before when applying as a freshman.

Moreover, transferring is not guaranteed. Many schools, particularly the Ivies, accept very few transfers each year.

Harvard typically accepts about 12 transfer students out of about 1,500 application, an acceptance rate of less than 1%. As you can see, here you actually have a lower chance of getting accepted as a transfer student than you do as a freshman applicant (the current acceptance rate for which is 4%).

If you're curious about the transfer acceptance rate at your top-choice school, contact your school directly or check out CollegeTransfer.net , which contains tons of data on schools and their transfer rates.

In the end, though, who knows what'll happen? You might end up loving the school you attend and wouldn't even consider transferring out of it.

#5: Consider Challenging the Rejection

There is one final option you have when it comes to college rejection, though it's one I honestly don't recommend: appealing, or challenging, your rejection.

Challenging a college rejection is pretty much what it sounds like. When you get rejected, you have the option to tell the college you think they're wrong and ask them to reconsider your application.

So what's the problem? You can't appeal your rejection simply because you're upset that you didn't get accepted. This is not a good enough reason to ask a college to look at your application again. Even if a school did agree to reevaluate your application, it's unlikely a second look-through would change their minds (particularly if your main complaint is that they failed to recognize how absolutely incredible you are).

Instead, you can only appeal a college rejection if you have any new, significant information to add to your application, or if there was a major error or problem with your application. For example, did you win a big award or somehow dramatically improve your GPA? Then see whether you can appeal the rejection. (Not all schools will let you do this, though!)

In terms of technical problems, did your SAT/ACT score get reported incorrectly to your college? Or did your transcript get messed up and show you got Ds when you actually got As? Then appeal the rejection; most likely the college will allow it in this case since the problem is not actually your fault.

In some cases, colleges will not allow you to appeal your rejection at all (even if you won the Nobel Peace Prize). In fact, most top-ranked schools don't allow appeals of admission decisions. If you disagree with their decision, you simply have to wait and reapply the following year.

If you're not sure whether your top-choice school allows appeals or not, look at the school's official website or contact the school directly.

While rare, it is possible to get into a college through an appeal (though it's admittedly far less likely to get in this way). Here's an example of a student who got accepted to UC Berkeley through an appeal .


Conclusion: How to Deal With College Rejection

After getting my Stanford rejection letter, I cried a lot and talked to my parents. Eventually, I moved on and started to get excited about my other options. I ended up attending USC, where I had a fun, stimulating, and all-around memorable experience—something I wouldn't trade for the world!

Still, getting rejected isn't fun. Unfortunately, it can be a likely consequence if you're applying to highly selective universities and don't have the grades or test scores your school expects.

The easiest way to avoid getting rejected from college is to produce the best application you can. For top schools, this means you should typically have the following:

If possible, apply early action/early decision to your top-choice school. Applying early raises your chance of admission just slightly, as it highlights your commitment to the school.

Finally, make sure to take your time with your application—don't rush any part of it!

Let's say you do all of this, though, and still get rejected from your top-choice school. Bummer. At this point, you've essentially got five options (which you can mix and match, as desired):

No matter what you choose to do, take care to remind yourself that getting rejected doesn't mean you're a bad student or that your application was horrendous. It just means that the school could only admit so many people, and you happened to not be one of them.

Even though the college admissions process can feel like an uphill battle, just know that you're definitely not alone. As we say at my alma mater, "Fight on!"

What's Next?

Want more tips for raising your chances of getting accepted to college? Check out our handy admissions calculator to learn how to estimate your chances of acceptance based on your current GPA and test scores.

Need help applying to Harvard and other top schools ? This guide covers everything you need to know to get into the nation's best colleges and universities.

Struggling with the application process? We're here to help! Our expert guides teach you how to build a versatile college application and go over the application timeline to help you pace yourself.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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Writing a Rejection Letter (with Samples)

school application rejection letter

A quick no is better than a long maybe.

I have a friend who appraises antiques — assigning a dollar value to the old Chinese vase your grandmother used for storing pencils, telling you how much those silver knickknacks from Aunt Fern are worth. He says the hardest part of his job, the part he dreads the most, is telling people that their treasure is worthless.

I can empathize. I feel like I do that too, every time I tell a prospective HBR author that their ideas, research, or writing just isn’t good enough to make the cut.

Further Reading on Business Writing

Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity , How to Improve Your Business Writing , What You Miss When You Take Notes on Your Laptop

Rejection letters aren’t easy for any of us. Whether you’re telling a job candidate that he didn’t make the next round, an entrepreneur that you’re not going to fund her project, or a vendor that you no longer need his services, these are emails most of us dread crafting. Because it’s unpleasant, too many of us put it off or don’t do it at all, essentially letting our silence do the talking. That’s a missed opportunity (and rude). Though painful , rejection has benefits: Research by Linus Dahlander at ESMT and Henning Piezunka at INSEAD has found, for example, that when organizations take the time to explicitly reject (rather than just passively ignore) crowdsourced ideas, it both increases the quality of the ideas they’re being offered and increases the engagement of the crowd.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in a decade at Harvard Business Review — during which I’ve rejected literally thousands of ideas, pitches, and drafts — it’s that a quick “no” is better than a long “maybe.”

Writing a Basic Rejection Letter

Writing good rejections does take a bit of time — especially at first. But one of the benefits of learning to write a good, clear rejection letter is that it forces you to think clearly about what it is that you want from other people, and what it is that your organization really needs. For example, I can categorize most of my rejections for HBR into one of five categories: too broad (and thus not very useful to readers); too repetitive with stuff we’ve already published; too jargony; too self-promotional; not supported by enough evidence or expertise. Knowing this, we were able to distill a set of guidelines for prospective authors that encouraged them to avoid these common pitfalls.

That said, rejection letters need not be long, and the reason you give for the rejection need not be super-detailed. If you don’t have much of a relationship with the person — you never met them, maybe just traded some emails — the entire letter might be just a few lines. I looked back at some rejection letters I sent and realized that I usually follow a pretty simple format:

For example:

[Their name], Thanks for your patience while I reviewed this proposal. I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. We’ve published a lot on cybersecurity lately, and unfortunately the proposed piece overlaps a bit too much with other articles we’ve published. I hope you find a good home for it in another publication. All the best, [Your name]

If I were giving bad news to someone I’d interviewed for a job, I might tweak it a bit, but the basic format would stay the same:

[Their name], Thanks for making the time to talk with me last week. While I enjoyed our conversation, I think we need someone with more hands-on project management experience for this role. I hope you find the right job for you in the near future. [Your name]

If you can’t think of any hope to offer at the end, then don’t. “Do not say anything that will give the recipient the impression that the door is still open,” Joceyln Glei advises in her new email writing guide, Unsubscribe. “Such clarity and finality can feel cruel, but adding additional language to ‘soften the blow’ only serves to create false hope. Say your piece and sign off.” False hope is crueler than no hope. False hope just encourages the other person to waste more of their time, and yours.

If the idea of ending with an unsoftened rejection makes you unbearably squeamish, you can close with an extra thank you. Consider this example of a rejection letter to a vendor:

[Their name], Thanks for your detailed proposal. Taking a look at the materials, it seems like your firm’s key strengths don’t quite overlap with what we need for this project. Thanks again for taking the time to put this proposal together for us. Best wishes, [Your name]

Writing a Detailed Rejection Letter

But what if the pitch (or person) was really close to being a good fit, and you might want to work with them in the future? Or you have more of a relationship with them? In those cases, the above messages are probably too cold and too vague. When rejecting people I want to encourage, I keep the format much the same but am generally much more detailed in my reason for rejecting and more explicit in encouraging the person to try again. (In the study I mentioned above, Dahlander and Piezunka found that providing an explanation about why an idea was being rejected bolstered the beneficial effects of rejection — e.g., motivation and idea quality.)

I also often end with a question, to try to signal that I’m genuinely interested — not just making an empty, softening-the-blow promise. For example:

[Their name], Thanks for your patience while I reviewed this proposal. I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. We’ve published a lot on cybersecurity lately, and unfortunately the proposed piece overlaps a bit too much with other articles we’ve published. For example, take a look at the article we published on August 6 by Professor Joe Schmo, and the August 16 article by the CEO of Acme Corp. Although we won’t be able to publish this particular piece, I really enjoyed your writing style and the way you supported your argument with extensive research; would you be interested in pitching us some other articles in the future? All the best, [Your name]

For the job interviewee, it might look like this:

[Their name], Thanks for making the time to talk with me last week. I’m sorry to say that your candidacy did not make it to the next round; we’ve had a very competitive pool for this position. At this point, our organization really needs someone with more project management experience. However, I really enjoyed our conversation and think you could be a good fit here in the right role. Please do keep in touch — and is it OK with you if I let you know about roles that open up that might be a better fit? All the best, [Your name]

Now for the vendor:

[Their name], We were lucky to get some strong proposals in on this and we deeply appreciate all the info from your side — and for your patience. After a lot of careful thought, we have decided to go with another firm for this project. While we certainly have no doubt about the superior quality of your team or that you could deliver on this skillfully, we decided to use this project to expand our bench of development partners and, since this is part experiment for us, this was a good opportunity to do that. We’d really like to continue talking with you about future projects we have coming up this year. I definitely look forward to collaborating in the future. Thanks again for your help and your time, [Your name]

The more specific you are about the way you reject something (or someone), the more information you give them. A smart rejectee will use this information to come back with a stronger pitch the next time. I’ve actually had a few people thank me for rejection letters I wrote to them, because it gave them the kind of concrete, specific feedback they needed in order to make a better pitch in the future. It’s a good reminder that people do value receiving criticism , even though most of us dread giving it.

Writing a Rejection Letter When You Disagree with the Decision

It’s especially tough to pass along a rejection decision that you disagree with. Maybe you fought hard for a job candidate everyone else was unimpressed by, or championed the cause of a vendor that the executive committee thought was too expensive. I know I’ve argued for articles that other editors thought weren’t ready for prime time. It’s not a good feeling.

When this happens, it’s tempting to hide behind passive voice or other people — e.g., “It has been decided that we won’t be pursuing this” or “The bigwigs have decided to go in a different direction.” Resist that temptation. It’s not any easier to get rejected in that fashion, and writing that way undercuts your authority as a decision-maker.

If you’re the one issuing a rejection, own the rejection. It’s fair to say something like, “After a lot of discussion and back-and-forth, we’ve decided X” or “It was a really hard decision, but we’ve ultimately decided Y.” But say “we,” not “they.”

A rejection letter in which you’re hiding behind someone else’s skirt inhibits your ability to give useful feedback. It also makes your organization look fractious or contentious, which undermines other people’s desire to work with you in the future.

Writing a Rejection Letter After a Ton of Back-and-Forth

The other kind of rejection that’s really tough to deliver is the one where you’ve both put in a lot of time and effort to make the thing work — but it’s still not working. Now, despite the sunk costs, it is time to cut your losses and move on. In some cases, a phone call is the best way to deliver this kind of news — use your judgment. But if you decide to write an email, it’s OK to keep it brief. Usually, at this point, you and your counterpart will have spent so much time talking about the problems with the project or the piece that your counterpart will already know the reason behind the rejection; you just need to recap it briefly.

Here’s an example:

Hi [Their name], Thanks for taking another stab at this. I really appreciate all the time and effort you’ve put in. Unfortunately, despite both of our best efforts, I think [problem X still applies] and we’re still not hitting the mark. At this point, I’d say let’s set this one aside and move ahead. [Your name]

The other thing I try to do when delivering this kind of tough news is position myself on the same side as the person I’m rejecting: We have made a good faith effort; and despite that effort, we have fallen short. This isn’t just window dressing; if you’re rejecting something after a lot of involvement, then some part of the failure is yours, too. (And maybe a sign that you should have sent a quicker rejection sooner in the process, when it would have been less painful for both of you.)

Delivering bad news is tough, and in different companies or cultures these examples may sound either overly harsh or too nice. You’ll need to find your own language depending on the context and the culture. That said, remember: Don’t soften the blow just for the sake of blow-softening. False kindness just gives people false hope. And there’s nothing kind about that.

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Admission rejection letter sample.

Sample Admission Rejection Letter Sample , Regret Letter for Admission and Refusal Letter for School Admission format. The given formats can be used my school, college management if the student   has not been selected for admission in the particular institution for any reason.  Mention the reason and be polite while writing rejection letter.


Date: 4 th January, 2015

Dear Parents,

We regret to inform you that your child Ahmad Ali S/O Ali Malik has not been selected for admission in LACAS School System, in Grade 9th. We have limited number of seats for the ongoing session, as we get a lot of applications our management has to select specific number of students.

Your child has not qualified the written as well as the interview test. A better coaching will lead to his improvement. We hope that he will prepare well for another school test. We wish him a bright future.

Yours Sincerely,

Director, Lacas School System.

Rejection Letter for Admission

Date: 6 th January, 2015

This letter is to inform you that your daughter Mina Khalid has not been selected for admission in our Star’s Group of Colleges. She qualified the testes but unfortunately her average scores of particular subjects i.e. Math’s and Science, in previous grades do not meet our requirements.

Management has decided that she cannot get admission in A-level. For any other query you can feel free to contact. Thank you for choosing our institution. We wish her good luck for her future.


Administration Star’s Group of Colleges.

Rejection Letter for Admission

Refusal Letter for School Admission

Date: 2 nd January, 2015

We regret to inform you that we cannot give admission to your son Jimmy S/O James Green in Grade-2. We understand that you applied for admission, but unfortunately the date of registrations are over which were from 9 th December, 2014 to 24 th December, 2014. Therefore, particular number of students is selected for admission. We are not able to accommodate him this time.

Better luck for next year. We wish him good luck.

Administration Dean’s School System.

Admission Rejection Letter

Respected Parents,

It is to state with much grievance that we are unable to offer your brilliant child an admission in our school. The reason behind this rude behavior is the policy devised by the high up administration. The policy says, “After closing of admission date, no child will be given admission irrespective of his pass or fail status.” I am feeling bad for issuing you such letter, but I am helpless. I hope you will understand. My prayers are with you and we expect you to come to our school next year.

Best Wishes,

Admin Manager

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College Reality Check

College Reality Check

How to Respond to a College Rejection Letter

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Teens fear being rejected by their crushes, friends and society in general. But there is one more rejection dreaded by them, particularly graduating high schoolers: the kind that can come from their dream colleges. Being denied the opportunity to attend the institution at the top of your college list can be a devastating and overwhelming experience.

You might not know how to bounce back from the upsetting news. And you might not know, too, how or where to start writing a reply to the nicely-worded letter of denial from the admissions office.

A response to the college rejection letter, which should be addressed to the person who sent it, should include a brief introduction, the intent for writing, gratitude for the opportunity to apply and regret toward the admissions decisions. The response should be concise, professional and courteous.

Continue reading if you have been staring at a blank document on your computer screen for hours already. This article will guide you on how to respond to a college rejection letter the right way.

But before anything else, let’s answer this question that might have been looming in your mind from the get-go…

college application rejected

Is Responding to a College Rejection Letter Necessary?

Students who receive a rejection letter from colleges and universities are not required to write a response letter. However, responding to it is recommended for those who are planning on applying to the same institution but to a different academic program or appealing the admissions decision.

If you received an acceptance letter from a school and it’s the one that you wanted to attend, it’s a definite must that you send a reply ASAP in order to let the admissions office know about your intent to commit and enroll.

Otherwise, the slot the institution has reserved for you might be given to somebody else on the waitlist.

It’s a completely different thing if what you received from a college or university is a rejection letter — you may or may not send a response to the institution. After all, it’s a much better idea to simply devote both your time and energy to responding to schools that have sent you an offer to become one of their students.

There are instances, however, where you might want to consider responding to a college rejection letter, which can have an impact on the next few steps you would like to take.

Planning on applying to the school that has denied you admission all over again the following term or year?

Thinking about appealing the admissions decision for you know in your heart that you would make a good fit for the institution?

Then taking the time to write a response would be highly recommendable.

At many colleges and universities, personal qualities and traits are considered non-academic admissions factors.

Nothing can help you build a positive character that many schools with a holistic admissions process love more than politely and graciously accepting the denial. Who knows — the simple act might help boost your admissions chances next time?

school application rejection letter

Response to a College Rejection Letter Template

And now we have come to the heart of this article, and it’s none other than writing a response to a college rejection letter! Below, you will come across a template. Whether or not you decide to use it, always remember one thing: be concise, professional and courteous from the start to the end of your response.

There are many ways to go about writing the right response letter — all you have to do is check online.

Refrain from assuming that just because you have tons of choices the response-writing task will be easier. If truth be told, taking a look at one template after the other endlessly can make the whole undertaking complicated!

All you need is one template that allows you to express your thoughts and the recipient — the one who sent the college rejection letter — to get whatever it is that you want to say. No matter if what you are really after is a closure, the chance to appeal the decision or to extend your interest in applying again, the right template will let you do the job.

Without further ado, here’s the response to a college rejection letter template:

[Sender’s name]

[Sender’s address]

[Date of the letter]

[Recipient’s name]

[Office name]

[Institution’s name]

[Institution’s address]

Re: Rejection from [institution’s name or name of the program]

Dear [Sir/Madam],

My name is [sender’s name], a graduate of [high school’s name] and an applicant for the [name of the program] program at [institution’s name].

I recently received your rejection letter for the said program. I failed to be awarded a slot for it and, as such, am extremely saddened by the turnout of my application.

Nonetheless, I would like to express my gratitude for having the opportunity to apply. Thank you very much for considering my application and for the helpful feedback, too.

Should there be a future opening for which my application makes me qualified, please kindly consider me. You can also get in touch with me at [sender’s contact information] if making an appeal is a possibility.

Thank you so much for your time and kind consideration!

As you can see, the template allows you to write a short and sweet response.

I get it — receiving a rejection letter from the school of your dreams, especially if you are anticipating an acceptance letter, can make you feel all kinds of things. It can make you depressed, angry, hurt, crushed, confused, betrayed, frustrated, disappointed, attacked, surprised, unwanted — the list could go on and on!

While it’s healthy to express your feelings, please keep in mind that a response to a college rejection letter is not the right venue for it. Needless to say, you should keep it professional.

But don’t start composing that letter without first checking out the following pointers:

Just Before You Write a College Rejection Letter Response

If you are thinking about applying to the same college or university and/or program the following term, academic year or sometime in the future, it’s generally a good idea to respond to the rejection letter. The same is true if you are thinking about appealing the admissions decision.

But even if you have decided to simply attend a school that has sent you an acceptance letter, you may still thank the admissions officers at the institution that has rejected you for their time and consideration.

No matter your purpose for writing a response to a college rejection letter, stay courteous at all times.

Related Questions

Can a college reject you after sending you an acceptance letter?

It’s very much possible for colleges and universities to rescind or revoke their offer to enroll even after the acceptance letter has been already sent. More often than not, this happens when the admitted student’s high school grades drop or character becomes questionable .

What can happen if a college sends you an acceptance letter by mistake?

Per academic year, believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for some colleges and universities to mistakenly send out acceptance letters to rejected applicants. After figuring out the slip-up, the institution in question typically sends a follow-up letter, apologizing for the error.

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I graduated with BA in Nursing and $36,000 in student loan debt from the UCF. After a decade in the workforce, I went back to school to obtain my MBA from UMGC.

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How to Handle a Law School Rejection Letter

Rejection can feel crushing, but follow this advice to keep an unwelcomed decision in proper perspective.

Handling a Law School Rejection Letter

Woman reading letter that came in the mail

Since law schools often give out a range of decisions, you should pay close attention to what the rejection letter says. (Getty Images)

No one wants to feel unwanted. It is hard to put time and effort into a law school application and keep your hopes up for months, only to receive a rejection.

Why Top Law Schools Are So Selective

Ilana Kowarski March 19, 2019

Smiling student in library

Nevertheless, every applicant who applies to a range of schools is likely to receive at least one rejection. Here is some advice for dealing with a disappointing decision:

Read the Decision Carefully

Many applicants mistakenly believe that any response short of an acceptance is a rejection. In truth, law schools give out a range of decisions. Especially this year, with so much uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic , law schools are stingy about outright acceptances.

Early decision applicants may have their decisions deferred, placing them in the general admission pool. Even those who did not apply early may receive notice of a delayed decision.

Applicants may be placed on a waitlist , in which case they may send letters of continued interest to stay under consideration. Applicants may even be encouraged to strengthen their application with a higher LSAT score or asked for additional information.

None of those responses are rejections or signs of impending rejection. Review your response letter carefully before writing a law school off.

Don’t Take It Personally

If the decision is a rejection, resist the urge for a postmortem. It is easy to come up with possible explanations or weak points in your law school application, but there is no way to know what could have changed admissions officers’ minds.

Law schools and admissions officers have their own quirks and qualities they seek in applicants. Different admissions officers examining the same application might come to divergent conclusions based on what stood out to them. Try not to interpret a rejection as a personal judgment.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions About Other Pending Decisions

Being rejected by one law school does not imply you will be rejected by others, even if they have similar or higher rankings . Neither law school admissions nor law school ranking is an exact science, and different schools put different weight on various elements of an applicant’s profile.

Furthermore, even if law schools could somehow come to a consensus about the “best” applicants, they have other competing objectives. For one, they are trying to assemble a balanced class. To foster an optimal learning environment and a proper allocation of campus resources, law schools try not to take too many similar applicants. A class full of litigators might leave mediation clinics understaffed – and make class discussions quite quarrelsome. A class full of recent college graduates might lack the real-world insights provided by older applicants .

Perhaps a law school that rejects you is overwhelmed with similar applications, while you stand out in another school’s applicant pool.

Consider Reapplying

If your heart is set on a law school that rejects you, it is not worth protesting or asking for a reevaluation. “Working the refs” could come across as unprofessional. Rather, take the disappointment in stride and consider reapplying the following year.

Generally, law schools don’t like to see applicants reapply with an unchanged application. Find some way to make your application more competitive, such as a better LSAT score, new work experience or relevant volunteer activities .

At the very least, submit an updated resume, essays and perhaps even recommendation letters. It is likely worth writing a new personal statement from scratch on a different topic, but even a newly written essay on a similar topic would be better than making no changes.

Ultimately, receiving a few rejections is a sign that you chose the right target schools. After all, if you are accepted by every law school you apply to, you may ultimately wonder whether you aimed high enough. You need only one acceptance letter to go to law school, so don’t despair until the process plays out.

Tips to Boost a Law School Application

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Tags: law school , graduate schools , education , students

About Law Admissions Lowdown

Law Admissions Lowdown provides advice to prospective students about the law school application process, LSAT prep and potential career paths. Previously authored by contributors from Stratus Admissions Counseling, the blog is currently authored by Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach , an admissions consultancy. Kuris is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has helped hundreds of applicants navigate the law school application process since 2003. Got a question? Email [email protected] .

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Sample Appeal Letter for a College Rejection

  • Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania
  • M.A., English, University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S., Materials Science & Engineering and Literature, MIT

If you've been rejected from college, you often have the option of appeal. The letter below illustrates a possible approach for appealing a college rejection. Before you write, however, make sure you have a legitimate reason for appealing a rejection . In the majority of cases, an appeal is not warranted. If you do not have significant new information to report to a college, do not write an appeal. Also, check that the college accepts appeal letters before writing one. 

Features of a Successful Appeal Letter

  • Address your letter to your admissions representative.
  • Present a legitimate reason for appealing.
  • Be respectful and positive, not angry or whiny.
  • Keep your letter brief and to the point.

Sample Appeal Letter

Ms. Jane Gatekeeper Director of Admissions Ivy Tower College Collegetown, USA
Dear Ms. Gatekeeper,
Although I was not surprised when I received a rejection letter from Ivy Tower College, I was extremely disappointed. I knew when I applied that my SAT scores from the November exam were below average for Ivy Tower. I also knew at the time of the SAT exam (because of illness) that my scores did not represent my true ability.
However, since I applied to Ivy Tower in January, I have retaken the SAT and improved my scores measurably. My math score went from a 570 to a 660, and my evidence-based reading and writing score increased a full 120 points. I have instructed the College Board to send these new scores to you.
I know Ivy Tower discourages appeals, but I hope you will accept these new scores and reconsider my application. I have also had the best quarter yet at my high school (a 4.0 GPA unweighted), and I have enclosed my most recent grade report for your consideration.
Again, I fully understand and respect your decision to deny me admission, but I hope you will reopen my file to consider this new information. I was tremendously impressed by Ivy Tower when I visited last fall, and it remains the school I would most like to attend.
Joe Student

Discussion of the Appeal Letter

The first step in writing a letter of appeal is deciding if you have a legitimate reason for doing so. In Joe's case, he does. His SAT scores increased considerably—not just a few points—and his 4.0 GPA for the quarter is the icing on the cake.

Before writing a letter, Joe ensured that the college accepts appeals—many schools do not. There's a good reason for this—nearly all rejected students feel they have been treated unfairly or that the admissions staff failed to read their applications carefully. Many colleges simply don't want to deal with the flood of appeals they would receive if they allowed applicants to reargue their cases. In Joe's case, he learned that Ivy Tower College (obviously not the real name) does accept appeals, although the school discourages them.

Joe addressed his letter to the director of admissions at the college. If you have a contact in the admissions office—either the director or the representative for your geographic region—write to a specific person. If you don't have the name of an individual, address your letter with "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Admissions Personnel." An actual name, of course, sounds much better.

Avoid Whining

Note that Joe is not whining. Admissions officers hate whining, and it won't get you anywhere. Joe is not saying that his rejection was unfair, nor is he insisting that the admissions office made a mistake. He may think these things but doesn't include them in his letter. Instead, in both the opening and closing of his missive, Joe notes that he respects the decision of the admissions personnel.

Most important for an appeal, Joe does have a reason to make one. He  tested poorly on the SAT initially, retook the exam, and increased his scores markedly. Note that Joe mentions that he was sick when he first took the important exam, but he is not using that as an excuse. An admissions officer is not going to reverse a decision simply because a student claims some kind of testing hardship. You need actual scores to show your potential, and Joe comes through with the new scores.

The Grade Report

Joe is wise to send along his most recent grade report. He is doing extremely well in school, and the admissions officers would want to see those strong grades. Joe is not slacking off during his senior year, and his grades are trending up, not down. He is certainly not revealing signs of senioritis , and he follows the tips for a strong appeal letter .

Note that Joe's letter is brief and to the point. He's not wasting the time of the admissions officers with a long, rambling letter. The college already has Joe's application, so he doesn't need to repeat that information in the appeal.

Joe's letter does three important things in a concise manner: He states his respect for the admissions decision, presents new information that is the basis for his appeal, and reaffirms his interest in the college. Were he to write anything else, he would be wasting his readers' time.

A Final Word About Joe's Appeal

It is important to be realistic about an appeal. Joe writes a good letter and has significantly better scores to report. However, he is likely to fail in his appeal. The appeal is certainly worth a try, but the majority of rejection appeals are not successful.

  • Can You Appeal a College Rejection?
  • Sample Responses to a College Deferral Letter
  • Tips for Appealing a College Rejection Decision
  • Deferred? What Next?
  • Sample Appeal Letter for an Alcohol-Related Academic Dismissal
  • Common Supplemental Essay Mistakes
  • Sample College Transfer Essay
  • How to Get Off a Wait List
  • How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest
  • GPA, SAT, and ACT Admissions Data for the Ivy League
  • How to Write a Letter of Continued Interest for Law School
  • Short Answer Response on Working at Burger King
  • What Is a Match School?
  • Month-by-Month Senior Year College Application Deadlines
  • Sample Letters of Continued Interest
  • How to Improve Your Medical School Application if It's Rejected

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How to Respond to a College Rejection Letter (Template and Examples)

How to Respond to a College Rejection Letter (Template and Examples)

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When applying to the school of your dreams, getting rejected is usually the last thing on your mind. This explains why most people receive college rejection letters with a heavy heart. They might not even consider responding to it. However, a rejection letter can be an opportunity to fine-tune your next application. Responding to it could also improve your standing with the school of your dreams.

Sending a response to a college rejection letter does not guarantee you will be accepted into the program. However, it can improve your eligibility for other programs in the school. It is also considered courteous and professional.

A piece of advice for not getting a rejection letter at all –  pay for my essay on EssayHub  services. A professionally written paper sample will be written for you according to your needs and specifications. It’s hard to fail with a professionally-written essay.

Has your college application been rejected? Here is all you need to know about How to Respond to a College Rejection Letter.

Being rejected by your dream school can be an emotionally overwhelming experience. Therefore, it is not unusual to not know where to begin your letter. Here is a step by step guideline to help you:

  • Address the letter – Usually, you should send your response to the person who sent the rejection letter. This is unless it is stated otherwise. Find out who you ought to address your letter to and indicate their full name, title, and address.
  • Introduce yourself – State your name, the program you applied for, and when you sent in your application. This will give the reader some context.
  • Mention your reason for writing – State that your application was denied, and that is why you are writing your response letter. It is important to get this out of the way early in the letter.
  • Express gratitude for the opportunity to apply to the program.
  • Express regret that you didn’t get into the school.
  • Show interest in future opportunities – Some schools have an application appeal process. Express enthusiasm for any future opportunities like this.
  • Close formally with your name and signature.

Tips for Responding to a College Rejection Letter

A response to a college rejection letter is a formal document. It should communicate your message concisely and professionally. As a rule of thumb, don’t mention anything that does not relate to your college application. Here are more writing tips to observe:

  • Maintain a professional and polite tone
  • Avoid being emotional, resentful, or accusatory.
  • Be precise and to the point.
  • Mention your gratitude for the opportunity
  • State your regret for missing the opportunity to join
  • Express interest in a possible appeal or future opportunities
  • Close your letter with polite regards

Response to College Rejection Letter (Format)

{Institution Name}

{Institution Address}

{City, State, Zip Code}

Re: Rejection from {Name of Institution/Program}

Dear {Sir/Madam} or {Mr./Mrs./Ms. Last Name},

I recently received your rejection letter for the {name of program} program at {name of college/institution}. I am disappointed that I did not make the cut to join your esteemed school.

Nonetheless, I am grateful for the opportunity to apply. Thank you for reviewing my college application and for the helpful feedback.

Should there be a future opening for which I qualify, kindly consider me. You can also contact me at {contact information} if there is an opportunity for appeal.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

{Your Name}

Sample Response to College Rejection Letter

17 September 2020

The Dean’s Office

North Carolina University of Business

123 Main St.

Wilmington, NC 34567

Re: Application to the School of Business

I was disappointed to receive a rejection letter from your college dates 15 September 2020. I recently applied for the Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management program for which I was not accepted. Regardless, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to apply.

I am also grateful for the helpful feedback included in your letter. As per your advice, I will adjust my application and file an appeal with the school board.

I hope for better future results. Please contact me at annabeljones.com if anything changes.

Annabel Jones

Response to College Rejection Letter (Word Template)

school application rejection letter

Rejections are part of life and happen to everyone. However, how you respond to them will set you apart from the crowd. Very few people think to reply to rejection letters. By learning How to Respond to a College Rejection Letter, you will present yourself in a unique light.

That said, be careful to keep your letter brief and positive. Mention your regret at not being accepted, but don’t complain about the decision. Avoid threatening the school with any legal actions, either. Finally, remember this is a formal letter sent to an established institution. Use formal, professional, and courteous language to draft your response

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What Should I Do If I Get a College Rejection Letter?

What Should I Do If I Get a College Rejection Letter?

You spent four long years studying, testing, and building a solid resume of extracurriculars. Your hard work finally culminated with an experience-packed college application that brilliantly highlighted all your accomplishments. You applied to the college of your dreams with every hope that they would see your brilliance and warmly welcome you to their family. Then, the unthinkable happens. You get a college rejection letter.

Intelligent and hard-working students across the globe experience this exact situation each year. Some of the brightest students in the world get rejected from their dream college. If this scenario is you, don’t give up yet! You still have options. For those still in the trenches of high school, this blog will help you plan ahead to ensure that you have the best possible chance of getting into one of your top schools.

Top schools have received record number of applications and acceptance rates are at their lowest. So do not be dejected if you get a rejection letter.

What if I get rejected from my dream college?

After the initial shock, you’re probably left with many questions. What do I do now? Is there still a chance I can still get into my dream college? Can I reapply? What do deferred and waitlisted mean?

If you get a rejection letter, first take a deep breath. Do not take the rejection personally and start considering your options.

Can I still get into my dream college if I get a rejection letter?

It depends on when you apply (early or regular round) and if you received a deferral, waitlist, or rejection letter. Let’s take a look at each term.

- What does deferred mean?

When you apply under an early decision or early action plan, you will get a letter from the college saying you’re accepted, denied, or deferred. If you get a deferral letter, that means they still want to consider you for acceptance in the regular decision round. You don’t have to reapply because the university holds on to your original application.

While all schools hold on to your application, some might ask you to write a letter confirming your interest. This is an excellent opportunity to tell them why their school is perfect for you. It’s also good to upload any new information that might enhance your application to the university portal. Your updates might include anything you accomplished after you submitted your application. Additional letters of recommendation, grades, or extracurricular updates will help your application stand out from the rest.

Although you’re probably disappointed you didn’t get an acceptance letter, a deferral letter isn’t a no, but it’s also not a yes. Don’t forget to focus on your backup plan. Submit college applications to schools in your safety, target, and reach categories!

- What does waitlisted mean?

Students who apply during the regular round might receive a letter telling them they’re waitlisted. This means they were not offered admission, but the college still likes them and might have an opening for them after admitted students commit to their final choice. If you have your heart set on this school, accept a spot on the waitlist. If you decide not to attend, you can always withdraw your application.

What are the chances of getting in as a waitlisted student?

According to recent data from the  National Association of College Admissions Counseling , colleges on average admit 20% of students off the waitlist. At the most selective institutions, that figure was 7%. This number significantly varies based on final admission numbers which don’t come in until August.

- What does a rejection letter mean?

Rejection letters can come in the early decision/early action round and in the regular admissions round. Suppose you receive a rejection letter in the ED/EA round. In that case, you cannot reapply to that school in the regular decision round. If you receive a rejection letter during the regular round, you cannot attend that school.

Although rejection or denial letters are disappointing, they might be just what you need to re-evaluate your goals and reassess your college choices. Suppose the rejection letter came in the early round. In that case, you can still apply to other schools you’re interested in during the regular round. To increase your chances of getting into a great college, remember to apply to target, reach, and safety schools.

If you get denied in the regular round and don’t have a backup plan, you still have a few options:

  • Consider applying to a college that accepts applications year-round or whose application window hasn’t closed yet.
  • Take a year off to explore the world and reassess your goals.
  • Attend a community college and take transferable general education classes.
  • Apply to a four-year university the following year with a revised application that includes your current grades and additional accomplishments.

Can I appeal a college rejection letter?

Some schools accept appeal letters, but they typically aren’t successful. If you can’t imagine yourself at any other school, you can write one and see what happens. But if you’re just upset, an appeal letter isn’t a great idea.

While Crimson can’t guarantee admission to every college you apply for, we can help you build a robust application, so you have the highest possible chance of getting into your dream school.

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Have a Backup Plan

Everyone wants to get into their top school. The reality is that there are limited spots at each college, and the more competitive the college, the harder it is to get in. Even top scholars don’t always get into their top choice.**

That’s why you need a backup plan.

How do I create a college backup plan?

To ensure you get into one of your top choices for college, start by making a list of reach, target, and safety schools.

Reach (Choose 2-3 schools)

Your reach school is probably your dream school. It’s the one you’ve always pictured yourself attending. Your chances of getting into these highly selective schools are extremely low. Ivy League schools fall into this category. Since the acceptance rates for these schools are notoriously low, getting in is less about your qualifications and more about luck. Obviously, if your test scores and grades fall into the accepted range, your chances of getting in are higher. Still, even then, the best of the best don’t always get accepted. If your qualifications don’t meet the school’s average qualifications, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. There’s always a chance your essays or extracurriculars might help you get in. It doesn’t hurt to try!

Target (Choose 2-3 schools)

A target school is one where your grades and qualifications fall into the accepted range of the school’s most recently admitted class. Even if you can’t guarantee admission, you know you have at least a 40-60% chance of getting accepted.

Safety Schools (Choose 1-2 schools)

Safety schools (backup schools) are the ones you’re pretty confident you can get into. Your grades, test scores, and class ranking are much higher than the school’s average for admitted students. Even though these schools might be your “last resort” schools, it doesn’t mean they’re terrible schools. Choose a safety school that offers the same programs as your reach schools and one you can picture yourself attending.

*Ivy League schools are not safety schools.

Check out this blog to learn more about reach, target, and safety schools.

Acceptance Rates of Top Universities

The world’s top universities, especially the Ivy League , have extremely low acceptance rates. Here are just some of the top US universities' Class of 2025 acceptance rates.

Top College Acceptance Rates for 2027

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One Simple Tip That Will Increase Your Chances of Getting into Your Dream College

Submit a complete, thoughtful, and thorough application.

As simple as this sounds, a college application includes many parts , and it’s easy to overlook a section or think it’s not that important.

Don’t underestimate the value of any part of the college application. Each piece of your application is designed to reveal an important aspect of you! It’s your opportunity to tell your story, explain your breadth and depth of knowledge, and tell them why you’re the perfect fit for their school.

Final Thoughts

Many students get rejected from college. This is especially true for students who apply to highly selective colleges. While no one enjoys receiving these letters, you can learn a lot through this process. You’ll learn how to handle rejection and how to move on. A rejection letter also gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate and maybe even realize your Plan B was even more rewarding than the original plan.

A strong college application will reduce your chances of rejection. Our college admission experts can help you build your application and achieve your academic goals.

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