What You Need To Know To Appeal A College Admissions Denial
Appealing a college admissions denial is very tricky. Most students don't appeal for one very simple reason: the chances of getting a denial reversed are very, very slim.
However, nothing ventured, nothing gained, particularly if you have legitimate reasons for your appeal.
There are legitimate reasons (things that can be documented and/or information that wasn't available the time of the application) and questionable reasons for appealing a denial decision. The fact that you really, really, really, really want to go to a particular college is not sufficient reason for making an appeal.
Two Appeal Rationales That Are Not Likely To Work: A. "I'm as good as the other guy!" Suppose you have a good friend who goes to your school and whose grades and test scores are almost identical to yours. He gets admitted and you don't and you think this is reason enough to appeal. Well, not necessarily. Remember, colleges base their decisions on GPAs, academic records, and test scores, but also on many other factors, many of which are difficult to know.
B. "I'm absolutely, positively certain that I would be a good match for the college that rejected me!" You may be right, but this argument is unlikely to lead to a successful outcome. The truth is that there are more qualified students than there are places at many, many colleges. Even if you are a good match and the college would be a place at which you would thrive, this is not sufficient reason to get a denial decision reversed.
What Are "Plausible" Reasons For Appealing A Denial? A. There was an administrative error Even though you did everything right: sent in your application before the due date, had your transcripts and test scores sent, and asked your recommenders to get their letters in on time, sometimes things go wrong. Human error does occur, as in the college didn't receive a piece of your application. If you are certain that any of the above took place, this is a reason to appeal, documenting the mistake and making sure that the information that is missing gets to the school ASAP.
B. Something bad happened On occasion, unexpected events take place during fall semester of your senior year: you have a serious illness or injury; something serious happens with a family member; some unusual event takes place that dramatically affects your academic and/or test performance. Whatever it is, this is a time to explain the circumstances to a college admissions office. Hopefully, they will listen to you and be sympathetic to your cause. Occasionally they will reevaluate your application. And once in a great while, they will accept a student who was previously denied.
If you're going to appeal a denial decision, be very organized, specific, factual and clear. While chances are slim, you just might turn things around.
Copyright (c) 2010 Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz
Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz is founder/director of adMISSIONPOSSIBLE.com and has been involved with college admissions since her days as Director of Re-entry Programs for the University of California, San Diego Extension. The student deserves to have the best, most up-to-date admissions information.