Your decision came in. It wasn't what you wanted. But guess what? It's probably not the end of the road. A number of schools across the nation accept appeal letters, letters detailing compelling new information and asking for a re-evaluation of your application based on that new information, including the entire University of California system.
Last year, I was rejected—on my mom's birthday! It was horrible. Everyone and their mother in my small town knew it was my dream school, and my incredible friends were waiting at my house when I got home from softball practice with pints of Ben & Jerry's and shoulders to cry on. But once the tears stopped, the writing began.
I'm the fourth person in my family to successfully appeal to a U.C. My cousin Sophie did it to U.C. Santa Cruz, my cousin Maureen to U.C. Santa Barbara and my mother to U.C. Berkeley, where she appealed her transfer decision three times. It's an odd family tradition, but it's one we're also strangely proud of. Receiving an admission off of appeal had to be one of the biggest rushes of my life, and there's no reason you shouldn't do it if you didn't get in to the school of your dreams. If I didn't, I wouldn't be writing this article for the Cal staff right now.
Before you appeal, make sure you have enough new information to justify appealing. There was a significant amount of information I didn't include in my original application because I played it far too safe, avoiding writing about some of the most impactful moments in my life because I thought they were too polarizing. If you have done something significant in the past semester that should be part of your consideration, appeal. If you have a story you didn't tell that's an important part of your identity, appeal.
Here's my few quick tips for starting your letter:
1. There is no such thing as a sob story.
There may be a story in your life you didn't want to include because you didn't want a pity party or you thought it was a sob story. I certainly did. But there is no such thing as a sob story, only a story of triumph. If you struggled through something and prevailed, it is a story of your strength and perseverance. It is extremely important that you recognize and present it like that.
2. Don't be afraid to get personal.
These people wanna know you. Tell them about your family. Tell them about your life. Nothing is off-limits here.
3. Be humble.
Recognize the pool that you're competing in. It's a giant, fierce competition. Don't say they made a wrong decision outright, but spend some time explaining why you deserve to be there.
4. Be specific.
If you're appealing to a U.C. or another school without a supplementary (non-common) essay, this is the first time you've had the chance to talk about the specific school in the system you want to attend. Show them you already have campus pride by incorporating some tidbits of campus superstition and tradition into your essay.
Also, make sure you have a good recommender that knows your performance in class and personality outside the class. My recommender, my AP Stats teacher Mr. Navrides, knew me for three years as the basketball team's scorekeeper and for one year as his AP student. He was the team's announcer, so we spent three years behind the bench together talking sports and the team's progress, then one year in class together working on problems. I can honestly say that he is one of the only teachers at the school I trusted to write a letter that did me justice.
If you love a school, appeal. If you want a school, appeal. If you think you deserve admission, appeal. There is no reason to remain disappointed if there was another option, a second chance to get into the school of your dreams. I didn't let my aspirations die because of one rejection. I kept pushing, and that's why I am where I am today.
If you wish to learn more about the appeal process or would like help on your letter, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.