Let's Talk about Rejection Letters Like We Talk about...

Seven years ago before I came to the US, as an ambitious high schooler in Southern China, I applied for 12+ undergraduate college programs in the United States. Rejected by most of them, I was surprised to have spent some good amount of time studying the language of rejection letters. I quickly drafted a piece where I pulled out statements in the rejection letters and interpreted each statement in the form of a relationship rejection. It seemed to have gone viral on some college application forums. Seven years later, I wonder if it is still relevant to me. Absolutely. I am applying for jobs, no? 

I hope you find some joy & peace in my writing below. 

The admissions selection committee has reviewed your application for admission for the fall of 2011.

I received your love letters the other day.


We are grateful for the time you invested in researching the University and completing the application process.

Um…it seems you’ve had feelings for me for a while.


Each application is unique, and each student presents wonderful attributes and potential.

You are very special.


While I wish it had been possible to offer you admission…

I wish I could feel the same way but…


However, after evaluating your credentials in the context of a talented group of candidates, we regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you admission to *****.

After some serious thoughts, I am afraid this you-and-me thing may not work out.


We want to assure you that we gave your application a very careful review before making this difficult decision.

You need to trust me that it wasn’t easy to say no to you.


However, with nearly 33,000 applications this year for 2,250 openings in the freshman class, competition for admission was extremely intense. As a result of this, many qualified candidates have been denied admission.

If it helps, there are many others who I had to turn down as well, you know.


We simply did not have room for all of the superb students who applied to ***** this admission season.

I am so sorry that love is a one-way street.


Experience has taught me how disappointing it is to apply for something important and receive an unfavorable reply.

I actually know how painful this is.


Although the decision on your application is probably discouraging to you at this moment, I am confident that you will overcome this temporary setback and achieve great success during your college career.

And I know you are stronger than this.


We know your accomplishments will earn you admission to many excellent colleges and universities, and we are confident you will find one of them to be an excellent match for your academic aspirations.

You will find someone who really deserves you.


In closing, we want you to know that you have honored us with your interest in *****.

For me, it’s — it’s always great when someone tells you they love you. I appreciate it.


If I can be of any service to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I’d love to be your friend if you’d like to hang out again sometime.


Please note that we will not mail you a paper copy of this decision unless you would like us to do so.

Well, I should leave you alone if nothing else.


Best wishes for success in all your future endeavors.

And I wish you every happiness.

Painting by Claudia Vulliamy after rejected by Oxford University.jpg

Painting by Claudia Vulliamy after rejected by Oxford University.jpg

I found the following art a great complement to my piece, created by Claudia Vulliamy (after she was rejected by Oxford University). 

Lat but not least, if you'd like to clap for my article on Medium.com.