By Key Club International Trustee Emily Dudash 

 For most people, the start of a new year signifies an opportunity to reflect and refresh; for seniors, it means college decisions are fast approaching. It’s an anxiety-provoking time for seniors. As colleges release their decisions, you may not get the response you were hoping for — and that’s okay! Here are five reminders on how to deal with rejection amidst college decision season. 

Let yourself be sad 

It’s okay to be disappointed! You’ve worked hard for this moment, and a rejection letter can feel like a devastating blow. Allow yourself to experience these emotions without judgment. They’re a natural part of the process. 

Put it into perspective 

College admissions are highly competitive, and rejections are not uncommon. Remind yourself that rejection does not define your abilities, intelligence or potential for success. Even the most successful and notable people have experienced some form of rejection at one time or another.  

Seek support 

A support system can make a significant difference. Talk to friends, family or mentors who can provide encouragement and perspective. Share your feelings with someone you trust, and don’t hesitate to lean on those around you.  

Focus on the positives 

While a rejection may feel like the end of the road, it’s actually an opportunity to explore new paths. Reflect on your accomplishments, strengths and interests. Consider alternative options such as other colleges, gap years or different academic or career paths. Sometimes rejection opens doors to unexpected and fulfilling opportunities. 

Be kind to yourself  

Avoid self-criticism and negative self-talk. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would offer a friend in a similar situation. Remember that college admissions are just one chapter of your life, and there are countless opportunities ahead. 

Remember, rejection is just redirection. It’s also a test of your resilience. Your worth goes beyond the contents of an email — so embrace your emotions, seek support and focus on your personal growth.