I Didn't Get Into Any Colleges I Applied To: What to Do Next

Sad student on laptop
July 10, 2024
Expert Reviewed

Waiting for college decisions can be nerve-wracking: but what happens if you don’t get into any colleges you applied to? Read on to learn what your next moves should be. 

There are not many worse feelings than realizing, "I didn't get into any colleges I applied to." Although it's okay to feel upset and disappointed, understand that this is just a setback: we promise that your college journey hasn't ended before it could begin. 

If you were rejected from the colleges you applied to, read on to learn about your other options and next steps.

What to Do if Every College Rejects You 

Getting rejected from college doesn't have to spell the end of your journey. If you didn't get into any of the colleges you applied to; there's still hope! We'll lay out what you should consider doing next. 

Don’t Panic and Don’t Give Up

“I didn’t get into any colleges I applied to,” is enough to make any student feel anxious, disappointed, and angry. First, allow yourself to feel your feelings: you need time to sort out your feelings and thoughts to decide your next steps. 

While getting rejected from every college you applied to is a less-than-ideal situation, take a deep breath and understand you have other options to consider. Don't give up! 

Look at Other School Options 

Low college acceptance rates are a harsh reality of higher education, especially if you apply to only some of the most competitive schools, such as the Ivy League. However, you still have options! Consider looking at other schools and see if there are any you would be interested in applying to. 

If you didn’t get into any colleges you applied to, consider checking out schools with rolling admissions. Schools with rolling admissions typically have priority deadlines between November and February, but many schools can keep their applications open until spring or later. 

U.S. News World and Report recently ranked the top 13 national universities with rolling admissions:

School Name U.S. News National Universities Ranking Priority Deadline
Rutgers University-New Brunswick (NJ) 40 Dec. 1
Purdue University–West Lafayette (IN) 43 Feb. 1
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 53 Nov. 1
The Pennsylvania State University 60 Nov. 30
Binghamton University–SUNY 73(tie) Jan. 15
Indiana University–Bloomington 73 (tied) Feb. 1
University at Buffalo–SUNY 76 Nov. 15

School Name U.S. News National Universities Ranking Priority Deadline
Rutgers University–Newark (NJ) 82 Dec. 1
Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) 98 (tied) Jan. 15
Rutgers University–Camden (NJ) 98 (tied) Dec. 1
Loyola University New Orleans (LA) 260(tie) April 15
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus 67 July 30
St. Louis University 105 (tie) April 1

Of course, these aren't the only schools with rolling admissions, but this list can help give you an idea of how many other options may be available. If you want to apply to rolling admissions schools, you should submit your applications as soon as possible after receiving rejection notices. 

Consider Community College

Community colleges generally have much higher acceptance rates than other colleges and universities. If you're adamant about not taking a gap year and launching right into post-secondary education, checking out your local community college is an excellent idea. 

While attending a community college may not have been your first choice, there are benefits to choosing this option

  • You can choose to attend a larger community college with a bustling atmosphere or a smaller one in a more rural setting.
  • Although community colleges typically offer two-year programs, you can earn academic credits toward a bachelor's degree. 
  • Some community colleges may partner with four-year universities to transfer your credits in a "2+2" process. 
  • Not taking a gap year can help prevent any "sliding" in your grades and keep you in the groove of being in school.

Going to a community college is an excellent option if you’re worried about falling behind and have a specific timeline for when you want to start your career and enter the workforce. 

Another bonus of going to community college is you'll have more skills, experiences, and academic achievements (hopefully) to add to your transfer application if you choose to do so. 

Take a Gap Year

You can choose to do many things if you take a gap year. Gap years are pretty popular with students, especially if you're unsure what major you want to take, or what future career path is right for you. 

Here are some activities you can plan for your gap year to enhance your college profile: 

Get More Involved In Your Community 

If you haven’t had much time to get involved in your community through community service projects or volunteer work, gap years present the perfect opportunity to explore your options. 

Depending on your interests and passions, these are some ideas you can explore: 

  • Volunteering at your local food bank, homeless shelter, community center, hospital, or animal shelter/rescue
  • Organizing a community cleanup for a greener space 
  • Starting your own community initiative, like a gardening or book club (see what exists already and try to identify any gaps) 
  • Organize a charity event or fundraiser, such as a blood drive, gala, etc. 

Evaluate the community around you and see if there are gaps or organizations you’d be passionate about joining. 


Traveling is a great way to gain global and cultural understanding while seeking out new experiences and sights if you have the means to do so. You can find different programs to help you pay for your travels in exchange for work and other services to cut your costs while still seeking meaningful experiences. 

While traveling on its own may not make the best admissions essay, the valuable skills you learn, the people you meet, and more can help differentiate your college profile and show personal growth. 

Pursue an Internship 

Internships help you gain real-world work experience and explore your interest areas. These work opportunities can hone necessary skills such as leadership, compassion, effective communication, collaboration, and more. 

Noting your internship experience in your college application shows your curiosity, drive, and willingness to immerse yourself in your field. 

Gain Work Experience

Technically another gap year activity, gaining work experience has numerous benefits: 

  • You can earn money to help pay for college or have more spending money for college (and for right now!).
  • You'll learn more about the workforce and how businesses run, depending on where you decide to work.
  • Depending on your role, you'll hone or gain relevant experiences, such as leadership, communication, problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and role-specific skills.

Although colleges love to see high GPAs, test scores, and extracurricular activities, work experience shows colleges your work ethic and drive.

FAQs : What to Do if you Don’t Get Into College

Still wondering what to do if you didn't get into any colleges you applied to? Read on for some relevant FAQs answered. 

1. Can I Ask a College Why I Was Rejected? 

While there's no rule saying you can't ask a college why you were rejected, colleges generally won't give you a clear reason or may not even respond to you. If you do get a response, you may be given reasons such as competitive applicant pools or more about the college's holistic review process. 

It’s much more valuable to keep going and do what you can to strengthen your applications next time rather than lingering on the past. 

2. Can You Reapply to College After Getting Rejected? 

You can certainly reapply to colleges that rejected you in the next application cycle. However, it would be best if you took this time to evaluate your application and determine how you can perfect it. In addition to pursuing new activities and experiences, consider speaking with an admissions consultant to see how your application can improve. 

3. What If I Don’t Get Into Any Colleges I Applied to? 

The best thing to do if you didn’t get into any colleges you applied to is to take a deep breath, feel your feelings, then decide your next move. You can find schools with rolling admissions, apply to a community college, take a gap year, or find work. 

4. Do Colleges Reject Overqualified Students? 

The answer is yes and no: colleges may reject overqualified students if they feel they’re more likely to accept an admissions decision at a more prestigious institution. More selective colleges want to maintain high yield rates (the percentage of accepted students who enroll), so they may reject overqualified students. 

However, this doesn't always happen and may or may not be why you were rejected. 

5. Can You Appeal a College Rejection? 

The short answer is that you can possibly appeal a college rejection; you should first check the school's policies on appeals to see if they allow them. However, you should understand that an estimated 1-2% of appeals are accepted, although this percentage may be higher or lower at different schools.

6. What Are Some Reasons My College Application Was Rejected? 

While you may never know precisely why a college rejected you, here are six of the most common reasons for rejection: 

  • You didn’t meet academic requirements or thresholds 
  • You submitted an incomplete application
  • The school felt you weren’t the right fit 
  • Your application had errors 
  • You have a history of suspensions, disciplinary action, or other blights on your record that you didn’t explain
  • The school receives many applications with limited seats

Before reapplying to college, make sure to thoroughly review your application materials to avoid these common mistakes.

Final Thoughts: Don’t Give Up 

Not getting into any of the colleges you applied to is an unideal, emotional situation. Remember that this isn't the end of your journey despite whatever negative emotions you're feeling: it's just the beginning.

Know that you have options: looking at other schools, enrolling in a community college, taking a gap year, or looking for a job. Whatever path you choose, there’s no reason you can’t transfer schools or reapply next year. Good luck, and don’t give up!

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