Almost every college student will endure some form of rejection during his or her four-year experience. Whether it comes in the form of dating, academics or athletics, rejection is bound to find you. As a senior at the University of Michigan, I encountered my fair share of rejection. Most of it has come in the form of academic advancement.
At Michigan, there are various colleges within the university that offer programs specific to your interests. Freshman year, I applied to the coveted Ross School of Business. Securing a spot would mean a tough four years but would guarantee bountiful job prospects at the end of the tunnel.
Admittance is no easy feat and my stress level was at an all-time high. Slaving away perfecting the application essays, trying to prove why I was a compelling candidate was draining. Not to mention late night study sessions and attending hair-pulling lectures so I could ace the required classes. Adding to my hysteria, I joined several clubs to display my well roundedness and create extracurricular appeal.
Proving my worth to someone I will never meet was an exceptionally difficult task, but I felt confident that I had given it my best effort. I knew I was on the edge of acceptance, but I was definitely nervous about the outcome. After waiting several grueling months for an answer, it finally arrived via email: Rejected. While every rejection email strives to let you down easy, being encouraged to apply again gave me no restitution.
I was left completely crushed. Months of hard work and focus left me with nothing but an upset stomach. I felt like an utter failure. I constantly thought about what I could have done differently or how I could have pushed myself harder. But it didn’t matter… it was over.
It was difficult scrolling through Facebook only to see friends excitedly post about their acceptance to the school. Talking about my rejection just made me feel inadequate. Why wasn’t I good enough? Everyone I know assured me that I would have plenty of future opportunities, but nothing could cheer me up.
Going into my next year of school I had to completely reset my ambitions and find a new path (not so easy). I still had that rejection hanging over me like a dark cloud that followed me everywhere. It seemed like I had to settle for some other major because I wasn’t capable of attaining my original intentions.
Despite it all, I was able to move on. Rather than continuing to dwell in the past, I tried hard to focus on finding myself a new goal. Browsing through new majors and discussing options with my advisor gave me a new perspective on the situation. I began to realize that it wasn’t the end of the world and that there actually were plenty of other opportunities for me. I was able to find another major that aligned with my interests, which laid the groundwork to find my new path. I began to forget about the rejection, opening my mind to new experiences and challenges.
As a senior looking back, it turned out to be a great learning experience. I was able to persevere and figure out how to carry on through difficult a situation. This lesson gave me the ability to deal with adversity, which will come in handy in the real world. After graduation, circumstances like this will constantly arise and it is important to know how to handle them. Turn every rejection into an opportunity. You may fail more than once, but college will give you plenty of chances to start over.