The Dreaded Rejection Letter – A Cinderella Story

Preface: This article was written when I was not accepted into optometry school in 2014. Luckily for me, I was accepted into Nova in 2015 (I am currently an OD2 student and I could not be happier!).

For those of you who are applying or thinking about applying to optometry schools, you understand how stressful it can be. There is a lot of ambiguity in the application process. Will I be viewed as a worthy applicant? Are my grades/OAT scores competitive? Was my personal essay unique? What if my transcripts aren’t received? There are many articles out there that tell you what to expect from the application process, and while many are informative, they are usually based on positive outcomes. Unfortunately, people do receive rejection letters, mostly due to the high degree of competitiveness in the optometry school admission process. However, do not believe that you are unfit or unqualified to be someday become an optometrist – that is not true!

I wrote this article for three reasons:

  1. To inform readers that many applicants do deal with admission rejection.
  2. To discuss how to deal with rejection letters.
  3. To transform receiving a rejection letter into a positive experience.

The rejection letter – what now?

I know when I received my first optometry letter in the mail, I was unsure if it would contain good news or bad news. Every part of me was terrified to open it for fear of rejection. In this case, my instincts were correct – it was a rejection letter. I was DEVASTATED! Negative thoughts flooded my head – worry, doubt, self-pity. I felt as if my life goals had been destroyed and I no longer had a plan. After a few moments of frustration, holding back tears, and laying in fetal position, I realized that I had NO IDEA why I was not considered good enough to be accepted!

Contact the school’s admission office

This is an important turning point in the process – learning exactly WHY I was not admitted. This thought lingered in my head until I decided to actually send an e-mail to the school’s admission office asking for the rationale behind their decision. I was super nervous but I also wanted to come across as confident and professional. After reviewing the email and having my fiancé double check it, I clicked the send button. Fortunately, the school responded quickly so I did not have to stew in my anxiousness for too long. Their response was something to the effect of: my GPA was too low, my OAT scores were below average, and if I raise them both my application may be reconsidered. Hit with more bad news. I wasn’t retaking my OAT until late December, so how would I ever be reconsidered?!

Adhere to the advice of the admission office

Thankfully, I am an optimist and realized that in order to make myself a stronger applicant, I would have to increase my GPA and OAT. So, I spent the next 2 months studying for the OAT to the point of mental exhaustion (I do NOT recommend this). To learn how to effectively study for the OAT, see OAT – Part I, OAT – Part II , and OAT- Part III. I retook the OAT, increased my overall average and score and did the next logical thing – I e-mailed the school and informed them of my new improvements.

Thank the admission office for their advice

Unfortunately, I was still not accepted into this optometry program (I didn’t say this would be happy story, did I?). The second rejection stung worse than the first. I simply had to come to terms with the school’s decision. However, hearing back from the school did provide some much needed closure, and I tried to turn this into a learning experience. Because I was brave enough to inquire about my weakness, I had a better understanding of what to work on and where to go moving forward. I proved to myself that through hard work and dedication, I transformed my weaknesses into strengths – something that I could be very proud of.

I want to tell my story to demonstrate that optometry school applicants do indeed receive rejection letters, and they STINK. However, if you learn to not dwell on negativity and focus on making improvements, you can turn yourself into a qualified applicant. Additionally, contacting school admission offices demonstrates a good work ethic and eagerness to learn, qualities that schools LOVE to observe and that may even lead to reconsideration of an application!

In conclusion, it is okay to be upset by a rejection letter. Just make sure to give it your all so that at the end of the day, you can reflect back and be proud of your efforts. Staying positive and focused can only lead to great things! Positivity kept me going and now I am in my second year of optometry school.

Brief summary:

  1. Stay calm and breathe.
  2. Have a backup plan.
  3. Determine which school(s) is a good fit for you.
  4. Reach out to the school admission office and thank them.
  5. Follow good advice.
  6. Keep at it!
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