Rejection and Recovery: Parts of the College Process


Every year, Darlington seniors, along with the other estimated 3.3 million U.S. high school graduates, are faced with what may be their greatest challenge thus far – college acceptance.


These hopeful prospects are eventually met with one of three fates: acceptance, waitlisting, or rejection, and because of Darlington’s 100% college acceptance rate, fates outside of acceptance are rarely mentioned.


“We like to use the word denial rather than rejection because students are denied admission, rather than rejected as a person,” Dean of College Guidance Samuel Moss said.


In recent years, waitlist numbers have never been higher and overall competition only seems to get tougher; Darlington students have experienced their fair share of both heartbreak and triumph.


“I applied to six colleges, which is two fewer than the recommended amount. I got accepted at three, denied by Duke, and waitlisted at Harvard and Vanderbilt, and it’s very difficult to get back anything other than an acceptance for anyone when you put in that effort, especially when it’s been done for the last four years, and you think you’ve got a good enough shot, you’ve looked at the numbers, you’ve looked at the admissions statistics over, and over, going ‘Oh am I going to get in? Oh this college makes sense to apply to.’, and it doesn’t always work. So, I applied for merit scholarships, too, and I didn’t get interviews for any of them, and that was even extra work to put in. And at some point, I know I felt this way, and I’m pretty sure other people have felt this, too, ‘What did I not do?’ ‘What mistake did I make or what shortcomings do I have that prevented me from getting into these schools?’,” said senior Dawson Horah. 


Feelings of self-doubt or the desire to begin again are natural following any rejection, but Darlington’s nurturing culture strives to combat these harmful tendencies.


“For instance, people who get turned down from the Ivys look just like the people who get in. They are all qualified or good enough, but they have to compete against each other for the number of spaces. I always try to tell people  ‘Don’t ever think of it as something you’ve done wrong or that you’ve been rejected as a person, it’s just that the competition was stiff and you weren’t selected’,” Dean of College Guidance Samuel Moss said.


Receiving a letter from a prospective college that doesn’t begin with a large ‘Congratulations’, leads many seniors  to re-evaluate and re-focus, but this change often opens doors to bigger and better things.


“I applied to the University of Georgia because, well I don’t know, I just applied. But, in a way I think it will be better for me to go either Mercer or Wake Forest, which are the other schools I’m considering, because they’re smaller. I don’t know if I’d do well at a large school like Georgia. I also think it was hard to hear that, or just get the rejection letter, but you just move on. You know, I have a lot of great options, so it was actually a good thing, not the end of the world,” senior Courtney Sabino said.


After being denied by their top choices, seniors Adrianna Young and Martin Jensen, along with many of their classmates, are grateful for their pasts and hopeful for their futures.


“I’m going to go to school in New York, so I’ll probably like the location a lot better,” senior Adrianna Young said.


“I was a little disappointed, I thought I would get in [to the University of Richmond]. My grades were sort of right there with everyone else’s and I didn’t really have anything on my transcript or resume that would set me down from anyone else, but the big problem was that I was never really set apart from everybody. So, I was originally deferred and then sent in the regular admission application, and that’s when I got denied. Then after that, I really looked at a lot of others schools to see what the best opportunity for me would be, especially to be able to play golf. Then I found Babson, it’s up by Boston, right outside the city, and it’s perfect for me.The people there are really nice and it fits my academic standards. Just high hopes from here on out,” senior Martin Jensen said. 


The college application process is one that demands more than tough skin, it demands a cool head, especially when the desired result isn’t achieved.


“What I learned from it [the college application process], was take yourself seriously, but also you know, not too seriously. Definitely don’t get your hopes up and approach it [the college process] in a realistic way, and also remember that college in general is just another stone in the path, and if you can get into a top 100 college, pretty universally, the final result will be indistinguishable. Comparing the progression from freshman who enter, to seniors who graduate, the amount they grow and learn will be the same, it’s just that Harvard happens to pull in just the freakin’ geniuses of around the world, and Auburn pulls in a lot more people locally, and they admit lower test scores, or a lower GPA, but they still teach people probably just as much Harvard does. It’s really what you put into it, that you’ll get out of it,” said senior Dawson Horah.