Four Things to Do If Faced With the Waitlist — Or A Rejection
The college application process can be very competitive, and despite all of your planning and effort, it may happen that you wind up on the waitlist or receive a rejection letter, without an acceptance to any college. This is understandably upsetting, but don't question your self-worth if it happens! To begin with, simply applying to colleges is itself an accomplishment, and this massive undertaking will only ever get easier, should you need to reapply in the future. Plus, sometimes being wait-listed (or even rejected!) can be a blessing in disguise. I'm here to help you find that silver lining.
The first thing to do is realize that you are definitely not alone in this. The second is to list your options (and you have plenty!), so let's start there.
Option 1: Did you say you were wait-listed? This is your opportunity to be proactive, not to just sit back and, well, actually wait. There are ways to increase your chances of getting in off the waitlist, like retaking standardized tests to improve your score or requesting an interview if you didn't have one the first time. Do what you can to work your way up that waitlist, and keep in mind that the earlier you get to work doing this, the better.
Option 2: Find another college. Not all colleges have the same deadlines, and there's nothing stopping you from applying to those that have later deadlines even after you've already gotten an answer from other schools. You can use a school like this as a stepping stone, proving your ability to get stellar grades at a college level so that you can then reapply to the colleges that rejected you or put you on the waitlist; you might also find that you love it where you are! And don't worry, if you end up transferring, there won't be any asterisk on your diploma saying that you initially got rejected.
Option 3: Go make some money. Do you know what you want to study? Many students who head to college straight out of high school don't, so take this time to think about it. One way to do that is to get some experience first, which could give you a more informed mindset when you decide to apply to college the next time. Certain jobs can help you decide what to do (or what not to do) as a career.
Option 4: Take a gap year. This is actually an extremely popular option outside of the United States. Like I said, many students don't know what they want to do when they graduate high school. If you can afford to do so, taking a year to explore the world can offer the chance to learn more about yourself in the process. Plus, after the rigor of your senior year, a break might be just what you need to head into college with a fresh perspective, ready to learn at the best of your ability.
Being wait-listed or rejected doesn't mean you should abandon any hope of attending your dream college. It just means you have an opportunity to try again, and you should -- focusing on making yourself a better candidate, acquiring new skills for when you reapply next year.