Rejection: Some Colleges Do It Better Than Others

Getting in to the college of your choice is harder than ever these days. Competition is stiff, and space is limited. Colleges have the difficult job of hand selecting their prospective freshman classes, and unfortunately have to reject thousands of talented and bright students. The result? A mass number of rejection letters, often hitting kids harder than a break-up.

College rejection letters

Rejected: photo via

“Even with impressive test scores and grades, abundant extracurricular activities, good recommendations and an admission essay into which ‘I poured myself heart and soul,’ Daniel Beresford, 18, netted 14 rejection letters from 17 applications.” Beresford was denied by Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago. (He’s bound for one of his top choices, Pepperdine.)

Here are some of the cruelest and kindest rejection letters from colleges and universities.

Toughest: Bates College. Bates, a competitive, 1,700-student college, delivers a direct and honest message: “The deans were obliged to select from among candidates who clearly could do sound work at Bates,” the letter stated.

Kindest: Harvard University. Despite an estimated admission rate of about 7% this year, this hotly sought-after school sends a humble rejection letter. “Past experience suggests that the particular college a student attends is far less important than what the student does to develop his or her strengths and talents over the next four years.”

Most Confusing: University of California, San Diego. After sending the first round of rejections, they accidentally sent all 47,000 applicants an email invite to join their open house for admitted students: “We’re thrilled that you’ve been admitted … join us this Saturday … and get a glimpse of the powerful combination that can be you plus UC San Diego.” Oops.

Most Discouraging: Boston University. The letter to students having family ties to the university begins: “We give special attention to applicants whose families have a tradition of study at Boston University. We have extended this consideration in the evaluation of your application, but I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission.” Rob Flaherty, 17, said the wording in BU’s letter translated to “we made it even easier for you and you STILL couldn’t get in.”

Best Student Response: Living well. After getting rejections from Harvard and Yale, Isaac Chambers, 17, a top student of his senior class, posted these words of advice for other rejected candidates on “When you’re in the dough,” he wrote, “fax the colleges that denied you a copy of your rejection letter every day — letting them know just how badly they screwed up.”


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