So you made decent grades in your prereqs and passed the entrance exam. Yet that dreaded rejection letter from your dream nursing school managed to arrive in your mailbox. It “regrets to inform” you that you didn’t make the cut. Should you wallow in sadness thinking you’re not good enough? Of course not! Brush it off and read on.
7 ways to deal with rejection
1. Remember your true calling. Nursing is a calling, and those who are called know they have a gift. “You have a responsibility to share that gift,” says LeAnn Thieman, coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. “You can’t let a rejection letter get you off course.”
2. Keep reapplying. “The more your application comes across the admissions desk, the sooner they’ll figure out you really want this,” says Jeremy, an RN student who applied 13 times over the course of four years before finally getting accepted this year. He says, “Your goals may take a while, but keep applying and don’t give up.”
3. Don’t let the schools tell you no. It doesn’t mean “no.” It means “not now.” This is how Dawn Koehn, BSN, defines rejection. It took her 10 years to complete her RN while raising three kids (including a special-needs child). “For all the times you felt you weren’t going to get there and got turned down, it’s worth it,” says Dawn. “Success is the best revenge.”
4. Keep busy. While you are waiting to reapply, prepare yourself for the medical field by volunteering at a hospital or working as a nurse’s aide. Study the nursing courses in advance so that you will be ahead of your class when the time arrives. This is what human behavior specialist Dr. John Demartini suggests. Dr. Demartini was a dyslexic high-school dropout-turned-chiropractor who taught himself how to read. Before beginning chiropractic school, he read his textbooks months in advance in order to keep up with his classmates.
5. Turn to your support system. It’s normal to feel depressed and to question your self-worth when receiving that rejection letter. When you feel this way, turn to your support system. “Your friends and family are a part of your confidence as well as your shelter,” says nursing professor Margaret Hegge, RN, MS, of South Dakota State University. “They are the ones you can always go back to, who give you a hug and tell you it’s okay.”
6. Have a plan B. Don’t limit yourself to one school. Apply to schools outside your region or state. Didn’t get into a BSN program? Then apply to an ADN or LVN program instead. This is what University of New Mexico academic adviser Ann Marie Oeschler, BSN, MA, tells students. “The more programs you apply to, the more you’ll increase your chances.”
7. Know exactly why. What did the other candidates have that you didn’t have? Perhaps your GPA needs improvement or you’re still missing prereqs. Email the admissions counselor and find out. Afterward, work on your areas of weakness. Then follow tips 1 through 6. Got it?
Tiffany Le is a former journalist and Marine. After helping her sister-in-law recover from a traumatic brain injury, Le was inspired to become a nurse. She quit her job as a reporter and works as a caregiver at a retirement home. She is currently applying to nursing school.