I Got Rejected, What Next?  
or, Why You Should Become an Intentional Transfer Student

By Beth Dumbauld

Got rejected from your first-choice college? Didn’t get into your first-choice college? Your love of math, your passion to assist others, and your commitment to becoming a teacher are not diminished even if your pathway to college is different than you originally thought it would be. After all, it’s not where you get your college degree that matters, it’s what you can do with your college degree that counts. Once you get over the sting of rejection, you will quickly realize there are multiple pathways to college – and that becoming a transfer student might possibly be the best possible outcome for you. 

Rejection Hurts, Get Over It 

According to a recent article on the American Psychology Association’s website, rejection really does hurt, and not just psychologically. Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles and Purdue University discovered that “social rejection activates many of the same brain regions involved in physical pain (Science, 2003).”1  

In other words, if you do receive that “Sorry, but...” letter instead of that hoped for, “Congratulations and Welcome to Our Really Expensive University” letter, it may literally feel like a punch in the stomach. 

So, what can you do? You’re in pain. You’re confused. Give yourself permission to acknowledge that although your disappointment is real, you can move on. (In fact, when it comes to your overall cost of college, there might actually be a huge upside that your original college plans didn’t pan out... but more on that later.)

As you go though this process of accepting what is, realize it’s only human nature to take rejection far more personally and apply it far more generally than you should. According to Mark Leary, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, “Very often we have that one rejection, maybe we didn’t get hired for this job we really wanted, and it makes us feel just lousy about our capabilities and ourselves in general.” Leary says, “I think if people could stop overgeneralizing, it would take a lot of the angst out of it.”2 

So, you didn’t get into your first-choice college. It really is no big deal. In fact, there may be an even better deal out there for you. You will still be able to achieve your dreams. It’s time to move on...

Rejection May Be the Best Thing that Could Ever Happen to Your Overall Cost of College

Guess which students on campus are, with few exceptions, paying the least for their college degree? Students with trust funds? Students who consider themselves middle class? Working students? Students who are the first in their family to attend college? All of these answers are wrong, yet they all could be right – on an individual student basis. 

No, the students who are most likely paying the least for their college degree are transfer students, and in particular, transfer students who successfully earn college credits through low-cost institutions and transfer those credits into more costly colleges and universities where they end up ultimately earning their degree.

1American Psychological Association, Weir, Kirsten, April 2012 Monitor on Psychology, The Pain of Social Rejection, p. 1

2American Psychological Association, Weir, Kirsten, April 2012 Monitor on Psychology, The Pain of Social Rejection, p. 1


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