Advice from Yale’s Dean of Admissions on Getting Rejected

Yale University Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel has written some advice to applicants about how to choose among their college acceptances – and how to feel about the rejections.  It’s worth reading while you wait to hear back on your applications.  He writes:

After years of experience, however, here is what I know, virtually to the point of certainty: almost nothing depends on exactly which strong college admits you. Everything depends on what you decide to do once you get to a strong college, and how well prepared you are to take advantage of the infinite opportunities you will find there.

His counsel is that no school will make or break your future, so throw out your misconceptions about which school is “best” or perfect for you, and make an educated choice based on the places you did get in.

Read stories from our bloggers about getting rejected from their top choice school, and finding happiness somewhere else:

Waiting for That Admissions Letter?

Advice for Getting Through an Early Decision Rejection

(H/T Daniel Luzer at Washington Monthly)


  1. Yale was my dream school since junior high. I worked very hard in order to get perfect scores in school which I did. I did great and extremely involving extracurriculars. I always dreamed of graduating from Yale someday. Every night, when I was so tired but needed some motivation to study, I would take Yale’s brochure and look longingly at it. That would motivate me to push myself to the extreme. I aced the SAT’s with above 2000+ scores. I got excellent recommendations from teachers. In fact, I stretched myself beyond my limit. But when decisions arrived, I was rejected. For over three hours, I was numb. When it finally hit me that all my toil came to nothing, I broke down and cried and cried and cried. I had missed all the fun in high school for Yale. I had sacrificed my time, my energy, my joy, my happiness, my good times, and my life for Yale. But, it was waste. It’s been two weeks now since I realised that I was never going to be good enough for Yale. I know I will never heal from this pain but I will still carry on with my life. I am not sure what the future holds for me right now but I am sure of one thing; that I will always wake up each morning to painfully realise that I wasted all my high school years preparing for a ‘We regret to inform you…..’ letter from my dream school, Yale.

    1. I’m so sorry. I know it’s difficult to get rejected from your dream school.

      I can guarantee you of one thing though, you will heal from the pain. You will go to another school that is very good, find your niche there, and thrive, just as you would have done at Yale. You will spend 4 years learning alongside other fascinating students, growing as you experience life as an independent adult, and stretching yourself by studying new subjects and trying new extracurricular activities (just as you would have done at Yale). You will meet incredible people, some of whom will remain your best friends for the rest of your life, and some of whom will be incredibly important to you but eventually fade from your life (just as you would have done at Yale). And you will appreciate all that hard work you did in high school, because you will already know how to push yourself to your limits, and you will be able to choose when to push yourself and when to slack off (a luxury some of your classmates, who are being overwhelmed for the first time, will not have). You will graduate and enter the real world, and from the second you start your first job you will work alongside some people who went to Yale and others who went to community college, and you will all succeed or fail on your own merits and not the merits of the schools you went to. And rarely will anyone ever ask you where you went to college, except as a way to make small talk when they don’t know what else to say.

      Going to one particular school does not guarantee you success or happiness, just as not going to that school does not condemn you to failure or misery. What will guarantee your success or misery, however, is how you deal with this moment right now – whether you let this rejection affect how you see everything that happens from now on, or whether you let yourself find fulfillment in a new life plan.

  2. i,am science student, i,am good in term of maths, chemistry, dream is to become a an industrial engineering & industrial maths.i need a helper in my field of study,for me to achieve my dream i real need some heard desire is to study in abroad so that i can become a professional.please help me to achieve these goal. thank you.

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