top of page

Let's Talk Rejections

Hello to all fellow students and supporters of Central Valley Scholars. In the midst of college admissions, there are many students being accepted to their dream universities. But likewise, there are many equally smart, worthy, and excellent students being rejected. We know that college rejections are hard, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. This article is meant to highlight the rejections of previous scholars, and show students that rejections don't define their success. Read the rejections of other students and how happy and successful they are today!


I was rejected from UC San Diego, UCLA, USC, Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown, and my dream school Princeton. Further, I was waitlisted for what I thought was my safety school, UC Santa Cruz. The tears and lack of self-worth I had because of my rejections, I thought that these rejections defined my success and my capabilities for the future.

But I am now an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley and President and Founder of a non-profit. Looking back at it, I view my college rejections, not as an evaluation of me as a student, but rather, at the lack of resources, opportunities, and inequities I faced as a Queer, first-gen, Latinx student from the Central Valley. For my valedictorian speech in high school, I spoke about my experiences being rejected from universities.

"Have you ever been rejected? Not just a simple no, but a cold hard rejection. Where you worked so hard for something, and came so close, but at the end were told no. This was my experience with college admissions.

I've always planned to go to college and never really cared about where. But as applications opened I was encouraged by many to apply to Ivy Leauge universities. I initially didn't think I had a chance of admissions. But, after all, the worst they could say is no. So I did it, I applied to Ivy League schools.

Waiting for a response felt like an eternity. But suddenly, I received an email from Princeton asking me for an interview. This meant Princeton had an interest in MY application. Me, a gay Mexican, whose father never passed the 8th grade, had a chance to get into Princeton?

Not to brag, but my interview with the Princeton alumni was exceptional. They stated I was an outstanding student, and any campus would be lucky to have me. My chances of getting accepted to an Ivy League School got so much closer.

It was finally March, college admission decisions. One of the first campuses to notify admissions was UC Santa Cruz - my safety school. But when I check my letter it stated,

'Thank you for applying to UC Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer you admissions for fall of 2017.'

I stood in shock. This was a university I believed I would easily get admitted to. All the confidence I had in myself, the belief that I would get into Princeton, it all went away.

On March 30th, I was rejected from Princeton, but there's nothing I would take back. Here's the thing, this is just the beginning of many rejections in the future. Yes, the worst they can say is no. But that no, it's painful. When you put all your hard work, time, and energy into something... that no becomes personal. When you get that no you're going to want to quit, you're going to want to cry, and giving up will seem so much easier. But you can't let rejection stop you.

Do you realize that we are all still so young? Seriously, my mom still has to sign a permission slip to allow me to walk from here to the library. We are kids, and our lives are not over. Don't let rejection stop you, but rather use it as an encouragement to work harder. No matter what you do, where you're going, never lose your will to continue.

As we all move into the future it is going to be difficult watching people succeed while you are failing. But trust me, behind every success as an infant amount of failed attempts. So to anyone who has ever rejected you, to anyone who has made you feel less than, prove them wrong. I know I will."


In the spring of 2017, I could not wait for my college acceptances. Ever since I was little I dreamed of attending UCLA; however, in April of that year, I was crushed to find out I was rejected to my dream school. I spent the weeks after mopping and feeling as though I wasn’t enough. After being rejected I decided to attend UC Berkeley instead, and I am grateful every single day for my rejection. Had I not been rejected I would have never met my friends who I consider family. I also wouldn’t have had the amazing opportunities I’ve had such as all the clubs, organizations, and non-profits I joined since enrolling at UC Berkeley. This school year I was accepted to an internship program, and I will be interning in Sacramento with some of the most experienced legislators in the state. I believe these stories of rejection are not discussed enough when in reality it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It is now Spring of 2020 and I will be graduating the following year from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Public Policy. Similarly, I will be pursuing law school after undergrad with hopes of becoming an immigration lawyer. I just want to say that rejection is tough; however, it is not the end of the world. Rejection from a college you really wanted to attend does not mean you are not enough. You are more than the number of acceptances you get, more than a resume, and more than any grade you receive. Remember that many of these schools reject students because they need certain students who have certain experiences, come from certain backgrounds, or sometimes for no reason at all. It does not mean you weren't a worthy applicant and most importantly, it does not mean you're not a worthy person. I know that it may be hard to hear all this now and you may be sad for a bit, but remember that eventually, you will find your place. After all, whatever school you attend is meant to be.


Throughout high school, I never had the illusion to attend a prestigious university. I was comfortable attending a local school like Fresno State and did not put much thought into applying for other universities, including UC’s. But during school, I would get pulled out of class to fill out UC applications, so I finally gained the courage to give it a shot. I got denied from UC San Diego, Irvine, but accepted and waitlisted to UC Davis. I thought it was great that I got accepted to UC Merced and accepted my SIR right away.

Now, I had the opportunity to waitlist for UC Davis. I felt comfortable with the idea of going to UC Merced, but I figured that if I had the opportunity to accept my waitlist then I should try. I was filling out the application for the waitlist a day before that it was due. I submitted it with no hopes into getting in but at least knowing that I tried. UC Davis sent me an email that notified me about my acceptance to the university! I was ecstatic and accepted right away, then I canceled my SIR to UC Merced. Now I’m a happy third-year at UC Davis. I did not and do not let my rejections define who I am because at the end of the day I believe in myself and know what I am capable of!


After high school, I did not attend a four year school like many of my peers did. Instead, I went to De Anza Community College. I felt lost and I changed my major frequently. The learning experience in those classes has been life-changing. I had time to focus on my future, reflect on the past, learn deeply about my identity, and it awakened a passion to serve my community. The challenge of pursuing higher education has allowed me to overcome barriers, meet new people, provide new opportunities, and encourage me to apply to well-known Universities. After 4 years of community college, I had been accepted to UC Berkeley. A University I never once saw myself in. After high school, I felt like I was set back because I did not follow my peers pace, but everyone has a different journey and pace. It is okay if you did not get into your dream school! You can go to community college and re-apply. After all, it's what you make out of your journey. Be the change, demonstrate your resilience and perseverance. Si se puede!


When applying to colleges I was nervous about the fact that my grades and test scores were below the reported averages of the school I was applying to, nevertheless, I made sure to use all the application fee waivers that were available to me. Narrowing down the list of colleges I was interested in was heavily impacted by a number of factors such as cost, campus culture, and proximity to home. My experience hearing back from colleges was a pretty mixed bag. I was rejected and waitlisted by schools I thought I would get into, but got accepted to the top two public universities in the nation. All this made me reflect on my high school experience and forced me to plan for every possible outcome and come to terms with the fact that anything could happen because of the unpredictability of the university admissions system. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by the results and happy with the choices I made. After carefully reviewing my options, I decided UC Berkeley was the best fit for me.


1 Comment

Definitely needed to hear this message as I go through grad school rejections. Each one felt personal after I had spent countless hours working on the application materials. Now with more self reflection and self validation I see them as a detour on my path towards working in higher education. My mentor helped me see them as a "not yet" and my upcoming gap year as an opportunity for more self growth. It is easier said than done, but we can overcome all these no's. A quote that I keep close right now is: You can't know joy unless you have known sorrow. It reminds me that the lows we experience make us value all the more the highs and…

bottom of page