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College Survival Tip: 5 Ways to Stay Sane in the Face of Rejection


I don't know how it was for you in high school, but for me failure was not an option. You did the work, you got an A. And while that's not everyone's experience, I think we'd all agree that college is DIFFERENT.

Before college, I had never gotten a B on my final grade. Ever. But when I got here, that changed--there were too many demands on my time between work and school and trying to figure out a social life. I got a B. And I didn't die. It didn't even hurt that much.

The point is, in college you're probably going to have to deal with failure, with rejection. You'll apply for internships that you don't get, you'll work really hard in a tought class and still come out with a B, you'll try to balance sleep and work and food and school and sometimes you will fail (I'm writing this on 3 hours of sleep, for instance).

So how do you go on? In the face of weekly rejection letters from literary magazines and my mounting fear that no grad school will want me, here's the system I've worked out for somehow staying sane and pushing forward, even in the face of rejection.

1) Be Positive

This means two things--first, it means to stay positive. Yes, that's easier said than done, but occasionally reminding yourself that you don't suck (even if you don't believe it at the moment) can really help you stay sane. Secondly, it means to be positive about what you're going for. If you truly want something, it doesn't matter how many times someone tells you no--you'll be able to keep pushing forward because you know it'll be worth it when you're finally successful.

2) Always Give It All You've Got

It's a lot easier to deal with a bad grade or a rejection letter if you know you did the best you could. Earning a B with hard work is a very different story than getting one because you just didn't put in the full effort it would have taken to get the A.

3) Go Easy On Yourself

But when you inevitably slip up, whether it's due to time management issues or just realizing that a nap was more do-able at the time, don't beat yourself up over it. This is another thing that's easier said than done, but just remember that once it's done, it's done and you can't undo it no matter how much you chastise yourself. Just tuck it away as a reminder to do better next time and move on.

4) Have A Back Up Plan

This is more applicable to things like the job search and graduate school than it is to individual class grades, but those can have an impact on whether or not you stay in your current major. Having a back up plan helps remind you that if at first you don't succeed, it isn't the end of the world. Whenever I panic about the possibility of not getting into grad school, I do a job search just to reassure myself about all the things I'll be qualified to do after I get my degree in May. While it doesn't make me any less certain I want to go to grad school, it does remind me that not getting in wouldn't ruin my life--it'd just make it different than I imagined.

5) Remember, Sometimes It's Not You--It's Them

Finally, it's important to remember that sometimes getting "no" for an answer isn't actually your fault. You might be a perfectly qualified applicant for whatever program you're after, but you were going up against a ton of other perfectly qualified applicants. Maybe you just weren't the exact fit they were looking for, or maybe someone else had those mysterious things called "connections." There are plenty of factors that go into these things, so it doesn't necessarily mean you're just a massive failure if you don't get published/accepted somewhere.


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