Sometimes things don’t go to plan: Dealing with rejection – OurWarwick

Sometimes things don’t go to plan: Dealing with rejection

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Abigail Booth | English Language and Linguistics with Intercalated year Contact Abigail

Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be talking about every university student’s worst fear, but something that is (probably) inevitable for all of us at some point throughout our university journey.

Why do we fear failure and rejection?

I think being a university student puts a lot of pressure on us. We are known as the ‘academic’ ones, who have done well throughout education, and are expected to go on and do great things. Now that more and more people are graduating with degrees, the job market and masters programmes are full of people bursting with potential, with the same aspirations as us!

I think for me, a fear of failure has been ingrained into me since primary school. Seriously, I remember getting terrified over my Year 2 spelling tests! Overall, then, I think it is pretty normal to fear rejection! It isn’t something typically expected of us, which is why it can really throw us off guard if it happens.

My recent experience with rejection:

In Term 1 of third year, I had a careers session, and decided after much contemplation, that I was keen to become a Speech and Language Therapist. As my undergraduate degree will be in a related subject (linguistics), this can be achieved through a fast-track Masters course. Only a handful of UK universities offer this masters course (probably around 10), so I already had a sense of how ‘niche’ this field of study was.

Anyway, with much support from my personal tutor, I produced a personal statement that I was really proud of. I initially sent it off to two universities, and had to wait about a month for a response. I thought I held a good chance – I have good grades and some relevant experience.

But, to my dismay, I received a rejection email from one of the universities. I was well and truly gutted, I thought I had done everything right! Immediately, I felt like a let down, a failure, someone incapable who should stop trying! It even resulted in me hurriedly searching through other Masters courses just so that I would ‘get into something’ this year.

How I dealt with rejection:

Well, I felt properly sorry for myself all of that day. The thing is, I’m not very used to rejection. This sounds really entitled, but normally, when I work really hard, it pays off! That’s how it goes! But, I realised that I needed to get back on my feet, so here are some of the thought processes that helped me:

  • Put things into perspective – Was your application rubbish, or was the course/job/internship oversubscribed? I found out that many more people applied than there were spaces for (which I think average around 20 for most Speech Therapy courses!). This helped me to realise that, actually, there were probably just a lot of people with more experience in the field than me.
  • Reconsider your approach – It is important to reflect on your application and work towards improvements. Do you need to sell yourself more? Have you shown your ambition and motivations enough? If you are going to proceed to apply, it’s a good idea to think these things through, to strengthen your chances next time! I got back in touch with my personal tutor and we worked to make my application stronger.
  • Consider the worst case scenario – I realised that worst case, I wouldn’t get in anywhere this year, and would have to take a year out, gain experience (I am young, after all!) and simply reapply, and to more places. It’s not ideal, but it happens. I’ve consequently started looking at jobs such as speech therapy assistants.
  • Try not to make it personal – This does not demean your abilities, your intelligence or your suitability for a role. One rejection does not mean it’s the end of the road!

Further along the road, I was pleasantly surprised to actually gain interviews from 2 other universities, which I am now awaiting a response from. Even if these don’t go to plan, I now know it wasn’t necessarily an issue with my application, as these other universities were happy with it.

Keep your chin up! 🙂

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Abigail Booth | English Language and Linguistics with Intercalated year Contact Abigail

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