Dealing with Rejection

Applying to grad school is can be a nerve wracking experience.  You expose yourself and your ego to a lot of schools and programs that you care a lot about but who don\’t know you at all (or, at least, very little).  Putting yourself out there is scary because you can be rejected.  And, if you\’re like me, you will likely be rejected by at least one of the schools to which you apply.

But, if you\’re like me, you can learn a lot from that experience. Here\’s what I learned.

  1. Getting rejected isn\’t fun
  2. Sometimes you\’re not a good fit
  3. Sometimes you are a good fit and the other party just doesn\’t see it right away
  4. Persistence pays off
Of all of the friend\’s that I\’ve had who\’ve gone to grad school, only one was accepted by all of the schools to which he applied. The rest were turned down by more often than accepted.
I applied to a lot of programs and most of them rejected me.  It was not fun.  Especially when the program that I\’d tossed into the mix as my \”ego booster\” (a school I felt I was overqualified for and that would accepted me even if no one else did) put me on the waiting list and then dropped me when all of their initial offers were accepted (that, folks, is what we call a backfire!)

I was able to rationalize some of the rejections by recognizing that the school and I really weren\’t a great match; we cold have worked out, but we might not have thrived.  For some of the schools that rejected me, I\’m still convinced that we actually were a good fit and I just didn\’t present myself in quite the right way to make them agree. But, in the end, persistence did pay off.

Out of the eight schools I applied to, I was accepted and offered funding in some capacity by two of them.  In the end, grad school rejections, like rejections of any kind, are best soothed by acceptance. But when you\’re waiting, here are a few things that might make it easier while you wait.
  1. Getting into grad school is not a summation of your worth as a human being–it just feels like it
  2. Being rejected doesn\’t necessarily mean that you\’re not cut out for grad work, it might just mean you\’re not a good fit (which might say more about the program than yourself)
  3. It\’s not over until the fat lady sings. I was rejected by the first five schools I heard back from before I started receiving acceptance letters.
  4. All it takes is one.  You can only attend one PhD program, so gaining entry/funding to one is all you need, so try not to take the rejections too hard.
  5. Acceptance makes everything better. And that\’s a fact.
Luckily, for me the waiting is over and I am very excited to be heading into my PhD program of choice this fall.  I\’ll discuss more about that next time.

Published by Jared Saltz

Biblical Studies Faculty (Florida College). PhD candidate at HUC-JIR. Husband, father, student.

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