No Acceptance Letters? You Still Have Options

Find the right college for you.

adult professional with student reviewing a letter

Even if you didn’t receive any college acceptance letters this time around, you still have options — and you can still go to college. The United States is home to almost 4,000 colleges, and you have time to plan your next move and find a college that’s right for you.

Your first step is to talk to your counselor, your principal or a teacher. The professionals at your school have helped other students through this and can advise you on what to do next. Here are some other actions you may choose to take.

Apply to other colleges: Some have late-admission policies or rolling deadlines — see a list of colleges with later application deadlines LINK. Or use College Search to find colleges that are still accepting applications for next year.

Get an explanation: Ask admission officers — politely and respectfully — to explain why you didn’t get in. Use the information you get to improve your future applications.

Appeal the decision: Appealing (that is, asking admission officers to reverse their decision) is an option only at certain colleges and in rare circumstances — for example, if you just found out that your high school sent the wrong transcript to the college. Talk to your counselor if you have questions about appealing.

Reapply: In rare instances, a college that has turned you down may allow you to apply a second time during your senior year if your grades or test scores improve dramatically. But this is an alternative only if the college’s application deadline still has not passed. Contact the college’s admission office to find out if this is an option.

Transfer: Many students in this situation spend a year or two taking general-education courses at a community college — most of which admit all students on a first-come, first-served basis — and then transfer to a four-year college.

Whichever route you decide to take, remember that this is only a temporary setback. Many students have been in the same position and made it to college, so you’re not alone. Stay positive and focused, and you’ll get your college acceptance.