The Student Success Blog

What to do if you don't get accepted

Posted by Milken School 2/19/2018
Find me on:

When you apply to private school, you're not guaranteed admission. The unfortunate aspect of the application process is that you ultimately could end up with a letter saying you've been denied admission. While this can be an incredibly disappointing experience, there are lessons to be learned and options to consider.

That school just wasn't right for you.

Some schools call these “rejections,” but I like to think of this situation as, “there’s a school that’s a better fit for you out there.” The truth is, schools work hard to ensure that they can meet the needs of every student who applies. If the admission committee deems there could be a disconnect in terms of the support the school can give and the student's ability to succeed, then it's likely that he or she will not be accepted. You can think of it as, this school isn't where you would achieve your highest potential, and it's highly likely that there is another school that can better meet your needs.

Schools won't typically tell you why you weren't accepted.

Asking for detail on why you were denied isn’t going to get you very far, unfortunately. Schools will typically just tell students they weren’t the right fit for the school, and rarely go into more detail. Hopefully, you knew if a school was a stretch going into the admission process and the decision isn’t a complete surprise, even if it’s a tough one to accept.

There are many reasons why students are denied admission at their top choice schools, which may include academic qualifications and testing scores, behavioral issues, and social or emotional needs, among others. Personality fit is a huge part of the admission process, as private schools work to build positive communities. If a student exhibits poor behavior during a class visit or speaks negatively during an interview, these are things that likely won't help your ability to get in.

Believe it or not, parents can also negatively impact a school's decision to accept a student. Being pushy, demanding, and disrespectful won't get you far, and it can truly jeopardize the chances of even a highly qualified candidate getting accepted. Private schools want to foster a positive relationship between the school and parents in order to best support the students and ensure success. If the admission committee thinks a parent won't provide this strong working relationship, the admission decision might not be a positive one.

There are other options.

While it may seem like the school doesn’t care about you, a denial of admission might truly be exactly what you needed. Schools want to be sure that you can excel in their programs and that they can adequately meet all of your needs. If they can’t do that, you’re not going to be accepted; they truly don't want to set you up to fail.

Ideally, you applied to more than one school this year, in varying levels of competitiveness for admission. Like the college process, where students tend to apply to colleges that range from reach schools (hard to get in) to safety schools (most likely will get in), you should use the same mindset when applying to private schools. This ensures that if you’re denied at one or more schools, you still have options and aren’t left scrambling at the last minute looking for a school that is still accepting applications for admission.

You can always consider reapplying next year.

If your heart is set on attending that school, then talk to the admission office to see if it's realistic to wait a year and reapply. That extra year can give you a chance to improve your academics, find a sport or extracurricular to make you a more well-rounded applicant, and improve your testing scores. Reapplying doesn't guarantee you'll be accepted the second time around, either, so it's important to be realistic about what you need to excel and what the school can offer you.

Topics: Choosing a Private School, admission decisions

Download the Milken Viewbook

The Student Success Blog

by Milken Community Schools

Welcome to Milken's Student Success Blog! We use this space to share information that we think will be helpful to all students at each stage of their middle and high school journey. 

Explore this blog for ...

  • Science and art ideas
  • Information about finding private schools
  • Application tips and tricks


Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Download the FREE

Innovator's Notebook!