What else to do if you were denied admission (or if you haven’t even applied yet)


In an earlier post I talked about the appeals process, and for many of you it may be worthwhile to see what new information you can send to convince the admissions committee that you’re a student they want.

On the other hand – they turned you down! If they don’t realize just how special you are, it’s time to tell them to take a long walk on a short plank while you focus on other options. Or you may not even have applied anywhere yet. Either way, there are plenty of options still out there.

The most obvious is to go to an open enrollment institution, most of which are still accepting applications. Most of the community colleges and other schools that only require high school graduation will still be accepting applications and admitting students right up until courses start. There’s a good chance this could save you some money, and colleges all over the country are getting smarter about recruiting and accepting transfers from the community college system. Despite the negative reputations that you may hear, I’ve found that most community colleges are great places for a freshman year. They still have clubs, organizations, and many have athletics, honors programs, and incredible facilities.

And bear in mind – no one knows where you got admitted or denied or when you applied unless you tell them. You can “choose” to stay close to home for a year or two – perception is what you make of it.

You should also be aware that quite a few universities that say they have tight deadlines may make exceptions if you have something they really want. Every year in the first week in April, for instance, some student will seek me out that only applied to one or two institutions. Regular readers of my rambling know I recommend not getting overly excited about so few schools, and especially not if they accept only one in ten applicants. Unfortunately, not everyone listens to me as attentively as you should. Many such students will have terrific grades and wonderful scores, but now have no admission letters. Others, even very talented, bright students, might not yet have applied at all, and find themselves in the same boat. If that is your case, you might check out a few schools where your profile would put you at the top of their class. While they aren’t generally accepting applications, I’ve found that many will accept a student who, for that school, has a great profile.

Bad note to send with this application, “I didn’t get in where I WANTED to go, so I’ve decided to LET you include me in your class, for which you should be grateful because I find your school distasteful.”

Good note to send with this application, “I didn’t originally look at your school – foolish me. If only I had realized what a wonderful fit this is for me as the X program is just what I’ve wanted and I believe I could make a wonderful contribution to your student body by doing Y if only you’d let me have the chance to apply late. Please consider me and if by some chance you do and I take the wonderful opportunities that your great school provides and become ridiculously wealthy I will no doubt donate a new admissions building in your name.” That last part is probably a teensy bit over the top, but I think you get the idea.

So, short explanation – it may be time to stop obsessing about that school that DIDN’T want you and start obsessing about some places that do. And when you donate that building, please try to spell my name correctly. Be seeing you.

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14 Responses

  1. How many students do you get emails/calls from each year that only applied to two schools, are stuck with two rejections, and now want to apply to Mason?

  2. Interesting question – I haven’t tracked the number from year to year. We had a TON of late applicants the year we went to the Final Four in basketball, but we had already filled our space and then some. I do work closely each year with our international admissions and athletics offices as those processes have a different timeline than our regular process. Apart fropm those, I’s estimate I get about 50-75 late applicants that either didn’t get in somewhere else or “suddenly” find themselves wanting Mason very badly for some other reason.

  3. Haha that’s very funny about the final four.

    Wow I didn’t expect NEARLY that many, I thought you were going to say 10 or 15. Thanks for that post!

    Andy and ScholarsForStudents

  4. Hello Dean Flagel,
    What would you say in a situation where a student doesn’t meet the GPA or SAT scores of the school, yet he has a lot of work experience and is very outstanding in many other areas. Involved in clubs and maybe even be an officer and win some major awards in those clubs as well. As well as maybe have a few internships on their belt. Would you admit someone in that circumstance. I am sure you are going to reply back, “well it depends”. lol.

  5. “It depends” does cover a lot of ground, but let me see if I can get a little more detailed.

    In general, all your extra-curriculars aren’t nearly as important as your grades or even your scores. One reason is that colleges rarely know what your list really means. Did you get an award for the incredible dedication, hardwork, and talent that combined makes you an incredible catch, or was it “we give everyone in school an award” night? Were you an instrumental group leader, bringing your organization back from the brink of doom, saving lives AND inspiring other students to increase their service, or were you just a face in the crowd, or maybe just a faceless name on a roster.

    Secondly, it’s even harder to judge than GPA scales (let’s not restart that fun discussion!). Is being lead in a school play better than drum major? Is being captain of the soccer team better than being a champion debater?

    Ultimately, colleges first and foremost want students with the intellectual capacity to succeed. If your involvements were so high that they brought your grades down, you have a good chance of facing the same problem in college, at least in the eyes of the admission committee.

    That being said, tell the school that if they offer you a spot you’ll definitely go – and do emphasize the leadership and motivation you’ve shown, but I would add in that you plan to CUT BACK on your involvement to FOCUS on your STUDIES. Good luck, and be seeing you.

  6. deanflagen,
    Thank you very much. I agree with you on not starting the GPA scales debate 🙂 I have typed about it enough on talk.collegeconfidential.com. I actually received a few awards that were not very easy to get. I do not wish to brag I am simply trying to present you with this information. I received an award placing top five in the state of VA in Marketing Management at the state level and was top 3 in the district level. I am also interning in the Senate as well, and I also had an informal internship with Deloitte and Touche’s Senior Manager in their DC office.

    I know for sure that I would put my education before anything else. I think of myself to be a good student when focused and I feel that college would essentially help me gain more focus as it will pertain to my interest much more than before.

    None of the accomplishments mentioned were put into my application because they occured after my application was submitted in January. What would you think if say I applied to GMU and my application came to you. Let us hypothetically say that I have average stats as well, yet I am willing to drastically change those stats in college. Would you admit me as a student.

    I am not saying that I am the most amazing person on earth, though I know of many people who do not have as much experience as I have and will be enrolled at GMU. Thanks for everything.

    Faiq

  7. Of course many institutions will very much want to admit you given all that you have accomplished. Others will fail to get past the numbers. The unknown factor will be what the rest of their applicant pool looks like, but for sure you want to use the essay to ask them to look beyond your grades and scores to see how many other reasons there are to admit you.

  8. I am not sure if you are aware of this or not but I did apply to GMU and was not admitted. They did not receive my SAT scores unti much later and never notified me that I needed to resend them which was quite unfortunate becasue I know GMU is very prompt with those matters.

    Which is why I tried to get in contact with someone who I knew from GMU to see what I could do to get a second opinion, I think that I would do well at GMU, not to be cocky or anything I am simply stating my opinion if that is ok. I was able to contact a Professor Scott, head of the English Dept, because I apply under English because I ulitmately want to get my JD, (hopefully from GMU Law because they have an amazing Law School). I am not sure if you checked your mail or not, but I know that Professor Scott forwarded my email to you. I did not know who to speak with so I simply email Prof. Scott and she told me that you were the one to talk to. I don’t know what you may think of me but I hope that you will have a second opinion, which in essense would change my life. I hope that you will be able to atleast give me a chance to prove myself in this matter. Though I like your statement, “Of course many institutions will very much want to admit you given all that you have accomplished”.

    I hope that can be your personal opinion about me. Thanks.

    Faiq

  9. If there were any sort of opportunity to prove myself whether it be a summer program, or an exam or something that I may be able to gain trust of the school I am more than willing to do so. I have an internship lined up for the summer that I am very happy I was given the opportunity to be aparty of. Yet if there is something that will help me excel in my education, that will overide any and everything else that is going on in my life. All I ask is to be given a chance.

  10. I am not saying that you don’t believe me, but just something that was posted on the internet…..

    http://www.fcps.edu/ChantillyHS/activities/deca/2008_deca_attends_state_leadership_conference.pdf

    Just something for you to look at.

  11. I submitted the following last night, yet it did not go through. The posts were divided into three separate posts that were submitted consecutively. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    I am not sure if you are aware of this or not but I did apply to GMU and was not admitted. They did not receive my SAT scores until much later and never notified me that I needed to resend them which was quite unfortunate because I know GMU is very prompt with those matters.

    Which is why I tried to get in contact with someone who I knew from GMU to see what I could do to get a second opinion, I think that I would do well at GMU, not to be cocky or anything I am simply stating my opinion if that is ok. I was able to contact a Professor Scott, head of the English Dept, because I apply under English because I ultimately want to get my JD, (hopefully from GMU Law because they have an amazing Law School). I am not sure if you checked your mail or not, but I know that Professor Scott forwarded my email to you. I did not know who to speak with so I simply email Prof. Scott and she told me that you were the one to talk to. I don’t know what you may think of me but I hope that you will have a second opinion, which in essence would change my life. I hope that you will be able to at least give me a chance to prove myself in this matter. Though I like your statement, “Of course many institutions will very much want to admit you given all that you have accomplished”.

    I hope that can be your personal opinion about me.

    If there were any sort of opportunity to prove myself whether it be a summer program, or an exam or something that I may be able to gain trust of the school I am more than willing to do so. I have an internship lined up for the summer that I am very happy I was given the opportunity to be a part of. Yet if there is something that will help me excel in my education, that will override any and everything else that is going on in my life. All I ask is to be given a chance.

    I am not saying that you don’t believe me, but just something that was posted on the internet…..

    http://www.fcps.edu/ChantillyHS/activities/deca/2008_deca_attends_state_leadership_conference.pdf

    Just something for you to look at. Thanks

    Faiq

  12. Dean Flagel
    Im sorry, I just realized that I made a spelling error in one of my posts. I didn’t mean to type, deanflageN. I am sorry for typing that incorrectly.

    Faiq Malik

  13. See my newest post

  14. Great read-I was denied admission twice to GMU.

    I was disappointed that my admission denial was the result of erroneous information provided to me from the Office of the Dean of Arts and Science.

    I was informed I could retake a failed course (due to stop attending noted by the professor) when offered in the spring. After follow up inquiry I was told it was a special course and not covered by GMU’s repeat policy. When I appealed for a W the same person that said I could retake the course said, “Initially you didn’t ask for a W and now it is too late.” This was after I was led to believe I was eligible to retake the course.

    I worked with Dean Flagel, Dr. Stearns and even my VA delegate David Englin to determine an appropriate resolve. All I was provided with was an option of attending NVCC for two years. I’ve since sought legal counsel to file an appeal to both the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the faculty senate and its governing board.

    I will not rest until a resolution can be reached either allowing me to retake a similar numbered course and/or providing me the proper withdrawal.

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