This year saw a perfect storm for lots of rejection letters, with a high demand from a large and talented applicant pool and a stable college supply. Tougher competition at the most selective schools has a trickle-down effect to less selective schools. So everyone is feeling the burn of rejection.
Here are some more ideas on what to do if you're feeling unwanted:
Research the public universities in your state. Many states have public universities that are required to admit eligible students. Start your search at the least selective institutions and work your way up.
Check out colleges you're interested in to see whether they have any flexible admissions programs. Many colleges are now offering January admit programs. The pros are that you get to attend a college you are excited about and you have four months to work, travel, intern or volunteer. While you may be a semester behind, you can still usually graduate with the rest of your class if you have AP credits or take classes over a summer. The cons are that many students find social connections are already made in that first semester and it can be tough to break in. It might also be more challenging to register for courses because many are sequenced from the fall semester.
See what schools are still accepting applications. Go to www.commonapp.org and look under Member College & Universities, open College Search and select "First Year Student -- Fall 2011." Plug in today's date under "Deadline On or After" and a list of colleges still accepting applications will come up. You might be surprised.
Consult the "Space Availability Survey." After May 1, the National Association for College Admission Counseling conducts a survey to find out which colleges have available spaces. The results are published at www.nacacnet.org (type Space Availability Survey in the search box) after May 5 and they are updated regularly.
Go to community college. Perform well at a community college and complete applications this fall for transfer admission the following year. Community colleges can be a great place to satisfy distribution requirements, which tend to be introductory courses. Completing these will allow you to start taking higher level courses in your major earlier. While it may not carry the cachet you desired, it can be a great time to get serious about school and save lots of money. This rejection may be a gift in disguise.
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com.