You have just finished celebrating the success of your A levels or first-degree results with your family and friends and have now been working hard on writing your application for your first or post-graduate degree at University.  You know what course you want to pursue and the career that this qualification will lead you to.  You have researched how best to write your application, fulfilled all the necessary criteria, submitted your application and are now waiting for University to reply. 

The awaited email arrives and the most dreaded words “We regret to inform you….” knock you like a blow in the face.

You cannot believe what you are reading. You are gutted. Disappointed. Let down. Shamed. Sad. Lost. Angry.  You feel like your world has fallen apart; your dream has been shattered and your future plans have gone haywire.

Breathe. What you are feeling is absolutely normal. Allow yourself to feel this way. Acknowledge your disappointment.  Give yourself time to process and to grieve, because after all, this may be a loss of a dream for you at this point in your life.  Speak to family and friends about your emotions. Your feeling of disappointment may lead to a sense of failure.  However, do not take this rejection personally.  There could have been many reasons or factors within or outside of your power that led to this situation.

Once you have come to terms with this reality, plan your next move. Do not go on to organise a self-pity party. This is not the end. There are various ways of dealing with this.

  • Ask for feedback about your application.  See what your weakest points were, what you could have done or written differently and what was expected of you that you missed. Plan on how best to improve your application. For example, you may require more work experience, or you need an additional qualification.  Work on this so that you re-apply and submit a superior application next time.
  • Explore other options.  University may not be the only source of obtaining your education.  Look for other opportunities – apprenticeships or internships, other Institutes or Colleges.  Do not limit yourself – see what other opportunities are available abroad.  Research possibilities for scholarships. 
  • Take a gap year.  This may be an excellent opportunity to invest in yourself and your community.  Travel, take up a hobby, study something different, learn a musical instrument, do voluntary work. Never under-estimate the importance of self-development and the powerful impact this has on your overall education.
  • Finally, keep a positive outlook.  So maybe your life did not go as you planned but this does not mean that there no other opportunities available for you.  Think outside the box and remain open.

Dealing with such a rejection may actually provide you with one of life’s most important lessons. This may have been the first time, but most certainly it will not be the last. Learning how to effectively deal with such emotions and turning a seemingly negative situation into a more favourable one, is one of the best lessons the university of life can teach us.

Stephanie Caruana is a counsellor at Willingness. She offers counselling services to adolescents and adults experiencing some form of distress. She can be contacted on or call us on 79291817.