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Grad School Rejection: 4 Strategies to Help You Bounce Back

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

“I just got a Grad school rejection mail and I feel so disappointed. I worked so hard on my application! I don’t understand how or why it was unsuccessful; I don’t know what to do next.”

After investing quality time, effort, and financial resources into your Grad school applications, it can be a huge disappointment to receive unfavourable rejections. Several qualified candidates experience a myriad of emotions, ranging from shock and anger to disappointment and fear.

Occasionally, these rejections become a huge stumbling block to making fresh applications. Our team of education consultants have come up with some tips to help you recover from a daunting rejection and rewrite your success story. These are highlighted below.

1. Reflect

It is important to reflect on your former application process to check to see if there were any inadvertent or avoidable errors.

Were all your documents valid, genuine, and up-to-date?

Did you provide the required number of references?

Did you submit all the required documents before the stipulated deadline?

When making applications, you should not only be concerned about the official documents you are to submit but also those coming from your referees, former institutions, and test agencies.

For example, some universities mandate that your official transcripts, references, and proficiency test reports (e.g. GRE, TOEFL, IELTS) must be sent before the application deadline for your application to be accepted.

At all times, it is important to be fully aware of all pertinent deadlines and understand what requirements or ultimatums can or cannot be waived. In addition, where possible, request feedback about the weaknesses of your unsuccessful application, so you can address them next time.

2. Reassess

Likewise, it is important to reassess your merit as a competitive candidate, before the next application cycle.

Do you have all the mandatory qualifications an applicant in your field of study should have?

Does your profile compete with that of colleagues and top players in your field?

What S.M.A.R.T steps are you taking to optimise your profile and improve your fit with your proposed course?

What justifications can you provide for your “weaknesses”?

For example, can you show that regardless of your low grades, you have other soft skills in leadership and public service which make you a desirable candidate? Can you explain how you have made up for any low grades by taking certification courses and qualification exams?

Beyond saying or thinking that you deserve the admission, you should start preparing strategies which you will deploy to communicate your worth coherently to the admissions committee. This way, when you return to the application pool, you are well-informed and more enlightened.

3. Reposition

After your assessment, it is important for you to take practical steps to reposition yourself.

You can proceed to volunteer with a relevant organisation to boost your work experience.

Remember that volunteering is a tool you can leverage to show your university of your choice that you are making a difference in the lives of others regardless of monetary compensation.

If you are also able to scale up your work experience, go for it. While at it, ensure that you are making noteworthy and measurable contributions that you can make reference to. For example, you can state that through your efforts, your employer, a digital marketing organisation, was able to amplify its social media reach by 80%. Quantifiable achievements leave an indelible imprint on the recruiter’s mind.

If you are unable to do either of the above, think of how to optimize your professional affiliations and expand your membership of relevant organizations.

4. Review

In conclusion, before you proceed with your new set of applications, you may need to review your approach to making applications. It is ill-advised for you to just apply to only the Ivy League universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, or MIT.

While these are indeed prestigious universities that you should aspire to apply to, you should ensure that your applications are well-balanced, so you are not caught unawares. We recommend applying to “safety” schools, universities with higher acceptance rates, generally good rankings, and funding packages. Think of them as your Plan B schools.

We urge you to switch up your Grad School application strategy- introduce some diversity. Instead of 5 Ivy league schools, why not apply to 2 Ivy League schools and 3 safety schools? This way, you maximise all your options and position yourself for the best opportunities as you rightfully deserve.

What next, now?

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A rejection is not the end of the road for your study abroad dream. Join our signature program, the Graduate School Application Bootcamp. Let's teach how to submit applications that cannot be ignored and improve your chances of getting into your dream school.

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