There is a very mysterious force that indirectly plays a part in almost everything we do. It is called destiny and perhaps this is the greatest mystery. So, in spite of doing everything, after all the hours of careful preparation, after investing extensive time in extensive research, you are still rejected, or to put in mild terms; you did not quite make through.

We know that you will be crestfallen, and bitterly disappointed, but we also know that this could be the chance for you to introspect, and brood over what exactly went wrong, and what are the factors that you could match up.

Yes, it is no time to hang your head and walk away, but rather time to stand up and take note. This is just a diversion, not a dismal end to all the routes. Like many other incidents where failure can be often used as a stepping stone, and can be used to learn the lessons, so also can this rejection be used.

Also, if we base our optimism solely on statistics, we will realize that there are many other options that have not yet been explored. For instance, the percent of graduate programs received by many doctoral programs are more than 40- per cent the number of seats available. Also, around 70- 75 percent of the applicants do not make it through to the programs.

So, this is the normal norm then. Any school or university has accepted this practice of receiving far more applicants than the number of seats they have. So while you are still coming to terms with this, also try to question yourself as to why you were rejected in the first place.

You might think that your resume, the reference letter, the statement of purpose etc., were very impressive and so why you could then not get through. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere buried in the question. As we have discussed earlier, during the personal interview you have to win the confidence of the application panel, and perhaps this is where you fell short. It may be the case of you not fitting in with their scheme of things properly, and that your aspirations and career inclinations are not on the same page. Since, you are planning to get enrolled into a specific program, there is quite a genuine chance that your aptitude did not gel well with the requisites of the program. So are you intrigued or plain confused? Well, you can write a very mannerly letter to the graduate advisor and ask them the specific reason for your rejection. The letter will not yield any answers for sure, but then at least you have started the process of introspection. A step in the right direction.

While re-assessing be honest to yourself, and ask yourself the questions which you believe might be the stumbling blocks. Questions like, did you devote enough time over drafting critical elements like your reference letter, or the statement of purpose, did you proofread, was the grammar correct, etc.

Seek the opinion of your close ones like your parents or friends, or from people (referee) who had written your letter. Ask them for their review and make a mental note of everything.  

While we advise you to act in a more professional manner, we also agree that it is imperative you do vent out your frustration, for we believe that only after all the clutter is wiped away from your system will you be able to start afresh, and work towards achieving your target with even greater focus.

The questions that you ask yourself and these answers that filter out will the biggest plus going forward when you go through the different processes again the following year. Also, you should consider if you are suitable enough to go through the grind of a graduate school, or whether you should consider another career option. Look within you and judge astutely, without being swayed by any external factors. As we have already discussed seek the opinion of the people who know you well and accordingly formulate an opinion.

 If after all this you are convinced that graduate school is your way, forget all the heart-burn and brace yourself to reapply against next year.

Well, whatever we do fate plays a very crucial role, and it may have transpired that you were not rejected because you had left a lot may missing points. You might have been plain unlucky, and the professor reviewing the application form may not be the professor who was inclined with the interests that you possessed. And then we should not rule out the factor of human mistake; for after all the professors on the application committee are just humans, and they could have simply missed you; the application form could have escaped their eye, and in spite of all the alignments, in spite of the fact that you could have done very well in the mentioned subject, you were turned away.

It may also happen that you have a good chance of being accepted, but then you have been put on a waiting list. How should you then react, and what should your plan of action be?

The best possible, which we believe would be to write a letter to the concerned school and explain that you are bitterly disappointed at being put on the waiting list, and that the school is and will always be your preferred place, and you are more than eager and positive that your merit if and when considered, you would be absolutely ready to pounce on the opportunity.

Also, do not forget to mention that you still the hold the view, as per the interview and as already mentioned in the reference letter and the statement of purpose that this school is in perfect symphony with your inclinations, your interests and that your career would flourish greatly by this enrolment. However, do not get carried away and be extra conscious of not naming any particular research group or any professor, because unknowingly you would have ended your chances, because the only reason that you have been put on a waitlist is because those groups or professors might already have been taken.

This letter should not be a flash in the pan, but make sure you continue this interaction for some time, so that the department or college believes that you are genuinely interested in the programs offered and in the college as a whole.

We also advise you to not procrastinate and during any such future interactions make a mention of any new grades that you have acquired, and future plans related specifically to the school, and innovative ideas that might have dawned on you, and most importantly if possible do include a new and much more purposeful letters of recommendation.

Also, now that we have recommended a host of theoretical advice why not jot a few things which we want you to be careful the next time you are applying for the graduate program.

  • Try visiting the school, which wants to get enrolled in and spend more time talking with the faculty and especially the professors of the course you are planning to get involved with.
  • Apply earlier and be very careful of not rushing with the procedure as the deadline in nearing.
  • Avail working experience, hunt for an internship or any volunteering opportunities, even if they are unpaid; because they will strengthen your resume and build much needed and much sought after work-experience.
  • There is no substitute for actual field work (read work experience), because it has a two-pronged advantage; first it will help you much needed practical knowledge of whatever theory you have learnt so far; secondly it will boost your resume because now you will be equipped with authentic work-experience.