Rejected at Private School: Now What?

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Not every student is right for every school, and not every school is right for every student. While some students are happily celebrating their acceptance to their top private schools, others are dealing with less than stellar news. It is definitely disappointing to discover that you weren’t accepted at your top choice school, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your private school journey. Understanding admission decisions, including a rejection, can help you regroup and move forward. 

Why was I rejected by a private school?

Remember how, when you were applying to private school, you looked at different schools and selected the best ones for you? Well, schools do the same with all students who apply. They want to make sure that you’re a great fit for them and that they can meet your needs so that you can be successful in school. There are many reasons why students are not offered admission at their top school choices, which may include academic qualifications, behavioral issues, social or emotional needs, and more. Schools usually tell students they aren’t the right fit for the school but don’t typically go into detail. Hopefully, you knew if a school was a stretch going into the admission process and the decision isn’t a complete surprise.

While the exact reason why you were rejected might not be clear, there are some common reasons for not being accepted to private schools include grades, school involvement, testing scores, behavior and discipline issues, and attendance. Private schools strive to build strong, positive communities, and if they feared that you might not be a positive addition, then you may not be accepted.

That goes for your ability to thrive there too. Most schools don’t want to accept students who they don’t feel will excel with the academic rigors, because they truly want these students to succeed. While many schools offer academic support for students who need a little extra help, not all do. If you applied to a school known for its academic rigor and your grades were subpar, you can likely assume that your ability to thrive academically was in question.

You may also have been rejected because you just weren’t as strong as other candidates. Perhaps your grades were good, you were involved, and you were a good citizen of your school; but, when the admission committee compared you to other applicants, there were students who stood out as a better fit for the community and who were more likely to succeed. Sometimes this will result in being waitlisted, but not always.

Sometimes, you will be rejected simply because you didn’t complete all portions of your application on time. Many schools are strict when it comes to meeting deadlines and completing the application process in full. Missing any portion can result in a rejection letter coming your way and ruin your chances of joining the school of your dreams.

Unfortunately, you won’t always know why you were rejected, but you are welcome to inquire. If this was your dream school, you can always reapply the next year and work to improve the areas that may have affected your acceptance decision.

Is being counseled out the same as being rejected?

In some ways, yes. When a school counsels you out of the admission process, it’s their way of telling you that the likelihood of you being accepted is low, and there is another school out there that will be a better fit. Some schools work hard to counsel out students who won’t be the right fit to admit because they believe that receiving a letter that denies admission to a school can be a difficult thing for a young student to accept. And it can be; for some students, that rejection letter is devastating. But the fact is, many students get denied or counseled out at the private schools they want to attend because there just isn’t enough room for everyone.

Can I transfer to my top school next year or reapply next year?

Some schools will allow you to transfer the following year, provided that you meet set criteria for acceptance. This usually means you need to reapply the following year. Which brings us to the second half of that question. Yes, in most cases you can reapply for admission the following year, provided that the school is accepting applications for your grade that year. Some schools only have openings in one or two grades, so be sure to ask if it’s possible. The process to reapply to some private schools can also be different from your initial go-around, so make sure you ask what is expected of you and meet all the necessary criteria and deadlines.

Ok, I Was Rejected

Ideally, you chose more than one school to apply to this year, in varying levels of competitiveness for admission. Choosing a variety of schools is important to ensure that you have options and aren’t left without a school for the coming year. Hopefully, you were accepted at one of your other options and have a place to enroll, even if it’s not your top choice. If you can’t move on from your top choice, take the next year to improve your grades, get involved and prove that you are the ideal candidate for the school of your dreams.

Being Rejected by Every School I Applied To

If you didn’t apply to more than one school or if you were rejected by every private school you applied to, believe it or not, there’s still time to find another school for the fall. The first thing to do is look at the schools that denied your admission. What do they all have in common? If you applied to all schools with highly rigorous academics and your grades are subpar, then you’re not applying to the right school for you; in reality, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you didn’t get offered a letter of acceptance.

Did you only apply to schools with low acceptance rates? If your three schools all accept 15 percent of their applicants or less, then not making the cut also shouldn’t be a surprise. Yes, it can be disappointing, but it shouldn’t be unexpected. Always think about private schools, and college for that matter, in the sense of three levels of difficulty for acceptance: your reach school, where admission isn’t guaranteed or perhaps is not even likely; your likely school, where admission is likely; and your comfortable school or safety school, where it is highly likely you will be accepted.

It’s important to remember that just because a school isn’t as selective, it doesn’t mean that you won’t receive a great education. Some lesser-known schools have amazing programs that can help you achieve more than you ever imagined possible.

Private school vacancies are available late in the summer if you find the right school. Many schools that are not as selective will have openings that need to be filled even during the summertime, so all is not lost, and you may still have a chance to get accepted before classes start in the fall.

Appealing My Rejection

Every school is different, and in select cases, you may be able to appeal to your rejection. Start by reaching out to the admission office and asking what their policy is on appealing. It’s important to remember that if you weren’t accepted, it is highly unlikely they will change their minds unless there is a significant change or error made. For example, if a portion of your application wasn’t completed, ask if you can complete it now and be considered again.

Getting My Rejection Overturned

Not every school will honor an appeal request, but for those that do, often the most likely reason for an admission decision to be overturned is if the student changes his or her application for a reclassification, which basically means repeating a year. If you were denied admission as a sophomore, consider applying as a freshman.

While public schools often view reclassification, often referred to as being held back, as a negative, many private schools look favorably on a student who is willing to reclassify to better himself or herself. Consider this; perhaps you applied as a sophomore or junior for the coming fall and were denied. Perhaps the school’s curriculum doesn’t align properly with your previous school and finding appropriate classes for you will be a challenge. Reclassifying will give you another chance to improve your academic performance, gain better mastery, and better align with the progression of classes. If you’re an athlete or an artist, it also means you have another year to hone your skills and talents, increasing your chances of getting into a better school down the road.


If you have been denied and don’t have another option for the private school, it often makes sense to just wait a year and reapply in the fall. You may want to consider reclassification if it makes sense to you; students reclassify to improve their academics, perfect their athletic and artistic talents, and to gain another year of maturity before heading off to college. In some cases, reclassifying can help you increase your chances of being accepted at that top private school you have your eye on. Why? Most schools have typical “entry years” for students. For example, in high school, there are fewer spaces in grades ten, eleven and twelve, than there are in the ninth grade. That means that admission is even more competitive at the higher grades, and reclassifying will put you in a position that is competing for one of many openings, instead of one of few openings. Reclassification isn’t right for everyone, and some competitive athletes need to make sure that another year of high school varsity action won’t negatively impact eligibility requirements for college, so be sure to talk to the admission office and your coaches to get the full understanding of what is right for you.

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Your Citation
Jagodowski, Stacy. "Rejected at Private School: Now What?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Jagodowski, Stacy. (2021, February 16). Rejected at Private School: Now What? Retrieved from Jagodowski, Stacy. "Rejected at Private School: Now What?" ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).