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Plan B: What If I'm Not Accepted to College?

paper mazePerhaps you aimed too high, didn't include a safety school, or just faced a more competitive pool of applicants than expected.

No matter the reason, rejection letters are never fun. But don’t worry: You can still go to college, and to a college of your choice.

Talk to your school counselor about these options:

Late Openings
Admission is an ongoing process for many colleges.

In early May, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) releases its College Openings Update — a list of colleges that still have openings for the coming academic year.

Use the list to locate colleges that are still accepting students.

The College Openings Update remains on NACAC's website each year through June 30.

Nontraditional Admission Options
Some colleges may have nontraditional admission options. You might be able to enter college for the winter semester rather than starting in the fall. Or you could be admitted conditionally or on probation until you prove your ability to handle college work. Talk to your counselor about these options or call the admission office of the colleges that interest you.

Community Colleges
Community colleges and some other two-year colleges have open admission policies. That means that all qualified applicants are accepted. Often, students who excel at a community college can then transfer to the college of their choice after a year or two.

Many two-year colleges have extensive resources for students who need a little extra help, and a growing number have honors programs. In addition, community colleges often offer smaller classes and are less expensive than four-year colleges.

Look for a college that routinely sends students to the four-year institution you ultimately want to attend, and work closely with your academic advisor to make sure that you take the courses you need to transfer.

A Year Off
If you're a bit unsure whether you're ready for college, consider taking a year off. You can use the time to work, explore career options, travel, volunteer, or participate in a gap year program.

Talk to your counselor and your family about options for a year off. You may find yourself teaching English in a foreign country, living in a kibbutz in Israel, studying endangered species in a remote area, or building houses in an economically disadvantaged area. Your experience may even make you more attractive to your first-choice college—or change your mind about what college you wish to attend.