This post was written by Kathleen Norton, a freshman at the Washington and Lee University. It was originally published on The Prospect, a student-run college admissions and high school/college lifestyles website. You can follow The Prospect on Facebook and Twitter.
Application season is rough on everyone. And it flat out sucks when your friends get a bunch of acceptance letters and you don't-even if you applied to completely different schools. It sucks when you get into your schools and your friends don't, too. Here's how to deal.
For the Accepted
First, be chill. At least in public. Of course you'll be excited if you get into your highest reach school, but when your best friends got rejected from their safety school on the same day, they really aren't going to want to hear about how great your future is and how much you deserved it. Tell them you got in if you guys agreed to share college news, but don't monologue about it.
Then, understand. Of course your friends are going to be happy for you. If they are really your pals, your successes are their successes. But that means you guys should also share the burdens of failure. They are going to need your support to move on from heartbreak more than you will need their support to celebrate.
Next, remember. Your friends love you. When they find out your good news, they might not react exactly how you want them to, but they are going through a lot, too. If you didn't get rejected from any of your top choices, you will have no idea how they are feeling. Let them feel how they feel. It might make you mad that they don't want to celebrate, but remember how much you all love each other. If they need space, give them space. If they need a hug, give them that, too.
Don't get offended. Their reactions have nothing to do with you. If they start crying when you announce that you've gotten into the school of your dreams, they can probably only think about how upset they are and how long they cried last night. Don't let their sadness completely block out your sunshine and turn you bitter.
Finally, celebrate. Your family and younger friends will have no weird feelings about the college process. Make them take you out to dinner (really, they'll be so proud of you that they'll be offering for the next six months). Celebrate as much as you want with them until your friends are ready to celebrate with you.
For the Rejected
First, throw yourself a pity party. Everyone will expect you to be massively bummed out so buy into that. Mourn the loss of colleges you will never go to. Honestly, it might seem weak to give into your emotions, but rejection sucks and you are going to feel like crap, and it will probably just get worse if you suppress it. Cry on your mom's lap and eat a full plate of cookies.
Then, get over it. Don't feel bad for too long or it'll be super hard to break out of. Celebrate the schools you did get into and move the heck on from the ones that didn't want you. If it doesn't matter in five years, it doesn't matter, and what colleges you got rejected from probably won't matter in five years. Also, to be slightly harsh but completely honest, people will get sick of you crying during physics, and your friends will want to celebrate the all the awesome things that your futures have in store. That'll be hard to do if you are still stuck in the rut of self pity.
Next, remember. Your future is super bright. The fact that you are going to college, any college at all, is super, super rad. It is going to open so many doors. Also remember that your friends love you and even though they got into Harvard and you didn't, they are still the same kid who got a bead stuck up their nose in third grade. They still love you and their success has changed pretty much nothing about your relationship. And if it does, they were probably not worth your time in the first place.
Also, don't get offended if your friends are super pumped about their acceptances and can't shut up about them. It's going to feel like their joy is a direct attack on you, but it's not. They are thinking about themselves just as much as you are. They are overjoyed and you aren't. It sucks, but it's reality.
Finally, make peace with the situation. Burn your rejection letters if you need to. Frame them. Whatever. It is what it is. The really cool part is that it's your life and you can make it really awesome. Go into college with a positive attitude, even if it was the last choice on your list. Accept your rejection. Heck, embrace it.