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Hilarious Responses to College Rejection Letters

Topics: Current Events
For most of us, spring is a happy time; March and April are months signifying the promise of barbecues, blooming flowers, and beach weather. But for the high school seniors around the country racing to their mailboxes every day after school to check for acceptance or rejection letters from their dream schools, March and April are months that will impact the rest of their lives.

For most of us, spring is a happy time; March and April are months signifying the promise of barbecues, blooming flowers, and beach weather. But for the high school seniors around the country racing to their mailboxes every day after school to check for acceptance or rejection letters from their dream schools, March and April are months that will impact the rest of their lives.

college rejection

(Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo)

Luckily, recent research suggests that maximizing the value of your college experience — monetarily or otherwise — depends as much on how a student spends his or time as it does on the school’s brand-name or cost. (Another reason why focusing on ROI, not other, more arbitrary ranking systems, is a better way to make your college decision.)

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According to the Gallup-Purdue Index, for example, for which Gallup and Purdue University polled 30,000 college graduates, “on the links between worker happiness, engagement and productivity,” expensive and/or top ranked schools are no more likely to produce a better post-college quality of life than their less expensive and less competitive counterparts.

Factors that actually do make an impact include “feeling supported by a professor or mentor and having deep learning experiences.” Unlike rankings and tuition costs, these are factors “that families can search for and control” when selecting a school.

In other words, a student who works hard and picks great teachers and courses at Seattle Central Community College might get a better education than the student who parties his or her way through New York University or Harvard.

Still, rejection of any kind is still rough. Whether it comes from the Harvard admissions department, the Google HR department, or the guy who said he was falling in love with with you last month and then disappeared into the ether, “I don’t want you” is never easy to hear, even though you know deep down that you’re the smartest, kindest, and most attractive candidate for the school/job/relationship since the Angelina Jolie’s imaginary love child with Steve Jobs.

The only definite upside is perhaps that the wounds of rejection fade with time, and with the healing almost always comes perspective. For example, you realize you absolutely loathe Massachusetts, that the Googolplex’s gourmet dining options are really a ploy to make employees work overtime, and that the man you thought you loved is indecisive and emotionally delusional.

Whether these things are true, things we tell ourselves to soothe the sting of rejection, or some combination of the two, making the most of the circumstances we can control is probably the most prudent approach to moving on from rejection.

When it comes to the college admissions process, some rejectees achieve a degree of perspective sooner than others, as illustrated by the slew of (sometimes hilarious) responses from candidates turned down by admissions departments around the US. Take a look at some of the funniest examples from 2015 and over the years.

College Rejection Letters

Seventeen-year-old North Carolina high school student Siobhan O’Dell sent the following letter to Duke University in response to the rejection letter she received from the school last month (The copy of the letter that Siobhan posted to her Tumblr page subsequently went viral).

(Credit: Huffington Post)

Duke’s response to O’Dell:

(Credit: Huffington Post)

A (fictional) rejection letter from Harvard written by Molly McGann, a high school student at Francis Parker School in Chicago.

(Credit: Citizen Poke/Facebook)

A response to a rejection letter written by Paul Devlin back in 1981. Devlin’s mother sent a copy of the letter to The New York Times and it was published in the paper’s “New Jersey section” the same year.

(Credit: Paul Devlin/Devlinpix.com)

Some insightful advice about putting college rejection into perspective from the late Boston Globe columnist David Nyhan in 1987:

“This is the important thing: They didn’t reject you. They rejected your resume. They gave some other kid the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that kid deserved a break. Don’t you deserve a break? Sure. You’ll get one … And the admissions department that said no? Screw them. You’ve got a life to lead.”

Tell Us What You Think

Received a hilarious or thought-provoking college rejection or acceptance letter? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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Jacob Thompson

I sent yale a rejection letter: Dear Yale, I appreciate the shiny, golden rejection letter that I received yesterday at approximately 5:05 PM. It made my day so much. I am very sorry to inform you that I am unable to accept your rejection. After reviewing my application, I was forced to take into account the hard work I put into the application,thus causing me to reject your rejection. I know I may be broke and poor, but this is life and there is also something called financial aid, but we’ll negotiate over that sometime in the future. I put… Read more »

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