By Sarah Shiang

After months of crafting the perfect essay, stressing over exams and finally submitting all of your college applications, waiting for a response–let alone being rejected from a school–can be unnerving. It’s totally normal to feel upset after being rejected from the school of your dreams, but try not to let that rejection affect you for too long. Rejection is a part of life, but it’s what you do with challenges and disappointment that will allow you to move on to creating a future that’s better than you could’ve ever imagined! I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so I assumed that I was going to stay in California for college.

Well, plans change. Now I’m in upstate New York, and I couldn’t be happier. Here are some tips that helped me get over the hurt of being rejected by half of the schools I applied to: 

  1. Turn your school into your dream school.

Does the school of your choice have similar classes, programs, study abroad opportunities or clubs available as your “dream” school? Chances are they have just as many–if not more–opportunities available, and it’s up to you to take advantage of them. “You really do get out of college what you put into it,” says RPI sophomore Andrea Muniz. If they don’t have that club you’ve been dying to have, take initiative and start that program at your college! Don’t look for all the ways that it’s worse than your dream school, and instead focus on all the unique aspects of it that will begin to make it feel like home.

  • Give your choice your everything.

Going into school half-heartedly closes off your mind to the possibilities of exploring what you love. Stretch your leadership abilities by joining student government and learning what makes your school run the way it does. Join clubs that interest you, rush a sorority, or just try anything that will get you out and about as much as possible. Give your school a good shot at becoming everything you could’ve wanted in college!

  • 3.Reach out to current students at the school you end up going to. 

Talking to alumni and upperclassmen before I made my decision helped me make my choice to travel across the country for college. Maybe you can check out your college’s newspaper with another incoming freshman who also enjoys writing, or grab coffee with someone currently in the pep band. Talking to students who go to your future school, or even people who made it their number one choice will help ease your mind going into a second-choice school.

  • 4.Be present and try to never eat alone.

It’s really easy to make new friends over a meal or over coffee, even if it’s later on during the year. After you figure out your schedule and put in meal times, schedule them in with friends – it’s easy to plan having lunch on Tuesdays and Fridays with your roommate right after chemistry gets out at noon. Especially if you’re prone to skipping meals in favor of classes or the various activities on campus, use mealtime to take your mind off of classes, disconnect from the chaos online and invest in the friendships you’ll cherish forever. Planting roots early on will help you want to stay longer by forming study groups and growing a network that will enable you and your peers to develop successful habits and interpersonal skills!

  • 5.Find what makes you happy and stick with it.

Scheduling time for developing your passion will help keep stress levels low, and serve as an outlet for your creative energy! As you meet people with similar interests, you’ll find a support network as you continue learning a new skill or friends to volunteer or work on a project together. The upperclassmen you meet are also wonderful resources to talk to and help as you get situated at your new school.

  • Try something new!

College is a wonderful time to explore, learn something new and meet other people who want to expand their horizons as well. If your roommate invites you to check out her dance team’s performance, go support her! Maybe you’ll end up trying out next semester–you never know unless you try. Step outside your comfort zone and find the thing that makes you want to stay.

  • 7.Sleep, get enough exercise and eat right.  

When you build healthy habits, you set yourself up for success and have more energy to reach your goals. Getting sick in college is no joke, so do your part in taking care of your body and doing your best to learn at your best. A healthy body can do wonders for your mental health, making the transition all the easier.

  • Go to at least one of the major games on campus.

Even if sports aren’t your thing, you’ll have a blast, I promise. Make sure you go with a group of friends, and take some cute photos of you and your friends reppin’ school gear! Games are an alternative way to unwind on a Friday night and score free school merch.

Keep in mind that you should put your happiness first! Transferring is always an option, so don’t feel the pressure to stay in an environment that makes you unhappy. College is a time of exploration and self-discovery, so find the right fit for you. Assess all of your options and look for transfer resources at your current school so that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for you