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How to Deal with Rejection as a Student.

Rejection is difficult, let’s be honest. It’s even more painful when you’ve done everything you should do before an application: you’re interested in the opportunity, it suits your skills and interests, your CV or personal statement looks good and you prepared for the interview. However, it is definitely possible to turn rejection into an opportunity and today, we’ll be looking at some ways to help you do exactly that.

  1. Check your perspective!

After facing a setback or a rejection, our tendency is to immediately assume that we’re doing everything wrong or are just ‘not good at anything’. When I got rejected by a university I’d hoped to attend, I had that ‘all my effort was simply wasted’ mindset. Even if you haven’t received any of your top university offers, try to look at what you’ve learnt from the process. Maybe you’ve figured out that the subject you initially applied for isn’t for you or that you’d rather get work experience in another sector. Whatever the outcome is, look at what what you’ve learnt from the process.

  1. Take a break and remind yourself of your ‘why’.

Resting and having time off is one of the best ways to refresh yourself and regain motivation to try again, especially if you’ve lost sight of why you want these opportunities. Getting rejected from university can be an emotionally difficult experience so take some time away from the process. Likewise, if you’ve been applying for some work experience for example and haven’t been successful so far, take a break from applying. During your time off, do some other activities you enjoy and which refresh you. After your break, think about why you want to get work experience or why you want a part-time job and use that as motivation to try again. Is it because you want to find out more about a particular sector or to get practical experience of being in the working world? To help you remember your why, put visual reminders around you- whether that’s on a mood board or as a screensaver on your phone.

  1. Ask for feedback.

One of the most annoying parts of being rejected is wondering where you went wrong and over-analysing every stage. Yet, the first and easiest way to turn a rejection into a learning experience is to ask for feedback. Receiving feedback helps us to know exactly where we went wrong and exactly how we can improve the next time. If you’ve been rejected from your top choice university or didn’t get an internship you applied for, email them back and ask if they’d be happy to offer some feedback.

Recently, I applied for an opportunity which seemed ideal for what I was looking for and I got rejected at the very last stage, after about 5 recruitment stages. This was initially very hard to deal with given that I’d put a lot of effort into the process and didn’t even know where it went wrong. Despite being hesitant at first, I asked for some feedback and the organisation was incredibly helpful, enabling me to see where I did well (which was in more areas than I assumed) and knew exactly why I wasn’t right for the position. Asking for feedback puts you in a positive position of knowing how to do better next time.

  1. Get inspired.

Rejection can feel like an incredibly lonely experience and one way to remind yourself that you’re not the only one is through other people’s stories of how they’ve dealt with rejection or setbacks. If you’ve been rejected from your top three universities, maybe read about other students who have been in the same position and what they did. It’s also useful to get advice from people around you, do some research and look into alternative options like Clearing. Hearing other people’s journeys is such a useful exercise as it reminds us that failure is often a natural result of trying, one which most of us experience. If you’d like some recommendations for where to start, have a look at some of our favourite resources for developing a growth mindset.

  1. Try Again.

In most cases (although it might be hard) it’s possible to try again. If you haven’t received any university offers, you might look at clearing options or use the UCAS Extra service. If you haven’t received any internship or placement offers, consider speaking to some local organisations to see if you could use your skills to help their team or you could try starting a project of your own. Take some time off, regain some perspective and then try again. This time, you’ll be starting from all the experience and lessons you took away from the previous attempt.

Let me know in the comments, if you’ve ever dealt with rejection, how do you bounce back from it? For me, I remind myself that rejection doesn’t define me, regardless of how it might feel in the moment. There are always alternative options and sometimes, it’s just a matter of trying again and doing it better.

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