When your application to grad school is rejected, it can be a seriously confusing moment.
Probably the most common reaction is, “But wait… Are you sure? I thought you were going to accept me!”
Yes, you hear about how “competitive” these programs are, and how “selective.” You hear that they received more applications this year than ever before. You consciously know these factors that go into it.
And yet, you get the news that you weren’t one of those who made it in, and your natural reaction to that is, “But… What? Really?”
You may even want to write back. You may be reviewing the actual events that you experienced — the work you did on the essays; the recommendations you made sure would be strong; the attention you put into the app, in dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and proofreading and proofreading again.
Maybe you got to the interview phase, and you thought you had a rapport with your interviewer. You didn’t stumble on any of the questions.
You sent “thank you” notes after.
And then, many weeks later, here you are, reading an email that says, “We regret to inform you that…”
It’s a surreal experience, for sure.
It may cause you to question your sanity!
After all, you thought everything was lined up perfectly! You thought you were a shoe-in at this point!
You thought you would be checking the right boxes for them — whether due to your high GMAT or GRE score, or the fact that you’re from an underrepresented pool, or that you have top-notch experience in an important sector like consulting, or private equity, or on the international stage.
And yet here you are, reading an email that says, “Sorry.”
It can be disorienting, for sure.
What do you do with this? How do you process it? Where do you put this emotion? How do you handle this news?
We don’t really have any good answers for that. It’s an experience you just have to go through.
What we can say is that, yes, this HAS been a competitive season. Even though it FEELS incredibly personal, that they’re rejecting YOU as an individual, it in reality does not work quite like that. It’s about them finding the right candidates to their program, and in that respect, it’s more about finding the right raw materials to feed into the machine. (A not very humanizing way to look at it, but in terms of systems analysis, probably more accurate of a characterization.)
One thing that won’t help you: Please resist the urge to reach out to the school and ask them that question. Don’t send the admissions team a “Wait, but why??” email. It won’t get you any closer to your goals.
We actually recommend not taking any actions at all. At least, not for awhile. Let this experience settle before you do anything. You won’t necessarily be seeing it clearly at the beginning.
Sending emails now may turn into regret later on.
It’s unlikely that they made a mistake — no matter how much it seems to you right now that that must have been the case. Sending an email questioning the decision or objecting to it is not doing to help you. Just sit on your hands, and process the feelings, and experience what is happening to you right now.
Is it fun? Nope, probably not. Is it part of the process? Apparently, yes, at least for you. This is what is occurring.
Actions taken now may not be useful in the grand scheme of things, so don’t act. Just experience. Just sit with it and let what happens be what happens for now.
If some Round 3 apps are in the picture for you, those opportunities will still be available tomorrow.
For now, yes it’s disappointing, but it’s not a rejection of you as a person. It’s just that now is not your time for this exact opportunity, yet know that others will come along. This world is full of opportunities. Not all of them are ripe for you and your destiny, but the ones that are will be here waiting when it is time.