Every spring, thousands of prospective students from around the world are rejected by their dream colleges. In 2007 alone, Harvard University rejected more than 20,000 applicants -- about 91 percent of the total -- from all over the world [source: Schoetz]. The University of California, Berkeley, reported that in 2009, they admitted only about 21 percent of applicants [source: UC Berkeley]. Maybe these students didn't have the best grades, maybe the schools had more applicants than open spots in the class, or maybe the applicants just had bad luck. In any case, should you find yourself in this situation, don't give up hope yet. You may have one last chance at getting in: an admissions appeal letter.
Admittedly, the odds are not on your side if you decide to submit an appeal. If your school even reviews appeals, their acceptance rate can be as low as 5 percent [source: Johnson]. However, if you've dramatically boosted your grades, achieved notable success in an extracurricular activity, or can prove extenuating circumstances, your chance of a successful appeal may increase.
In select cases, your rejection may actually be the result of a mistake. Maybe portions of your application got lost in the mail or your SAT results didn't arrive in time. If you suspect an error was made, call your school's admissions office and ask whether all the information was received. The college might even be impressed, rather than bothered, by the inquiry [source: Beck].
Supposing your college of choice didn't make an error in rejecting you, then it's time to put together an appeal. But before you get typing, check whether the college will even accept it. Your rejection letter should usually provide information on whether appeals are processed. Stanford University's rejection letter, for example, explicitly states that they "are not able to consider appeals" [source: Shellenbarger]. One rule of thumb: The more exclusive the college or university, the less likely they will be to review appeals. To be sure, check with your school's Web site to see whether they have a defined "no appeals" policy.
If appealing a rejection sounds, well, appealing, be sure to get moving on it as soon as possible. Admissions officers work on tight deadlines when it comes to reviewing appeals, and you may have as little as two weeks to get your letter in the mail [source: UCLA].
Because this is your second chance to impress the admissions officers, you'll want to be sure you get the letter right. If your school doesn't outline what they're looking for in a letter, how can you know what to include? Read on to learn where you can find examples of appeals letters that can give you some inspiration.