No matter how well structured or well written your letter, unless it's based on a solid foundation of good content, it probably won't do the job alone. Above all, be sure that your appeal letter contains "new and compelling" information [source: Beck, UCLA]. A team of admissions officers has already carefully combed through your first attempt at admission, so this time around, you'll have to give them something else to chew on. You may have qualities that you failed to mention, such as improved grades or a dedication to extracurricular activities. Or maybe there were special circumstances that caused your initial application to be less than stellar, such as family problems or a medical condition. Your rejection may also have been prompted by your decision not to declare a major. If your appeal is more specific about what you intend to study and why, it may help prove your commitment to the school [source: Beck].
Also feel free to include any compelling personal or geographic reasons you have for applying to a particular college, such as how the college best satisfies your lifelong goal of studying late-stage diabetes, or how studying in Boston will bring you closer to an academically minded relative [source: Johnson].
It's one thing to make a claim, and it's another to back it up, that's why it's important to include any documentation that will prop up the arguments made in your letter. If your initial application was hindered by a medical condition, include a doctor's note. If you have recently won an award, include a photocopy of the certificate. If your grades have dramatically improved during your second semester, include a revised transcript. No college wants to admit a student who won't be able to hack the academic demands. If grades led to your rejection, you're going to have to show that in the months since you first applied, you've been able to dramatically boost your grades and work ethic up to a college level.
Recommendation letters can be a critical part of any appeal package, but make sure to find out whether your choice school is picky about who writes the letter. Some colleges may accept letters from anyone ranging from coaches to formers bosses, while other will review letters written only by teachers or guidance counselors [source: Kentucky State University].
Read on to find lots more information about college admissions and appeals processes.
Related How Stuff Works Articles
- Beck, Evelyn. "Appealing a Rejection From Your Dream College." College Bound Network. (February 17, 2010) http://www.collegebound.net/content/article/appealing-a-rejection-from-your-dream-college/1513/
- Belkin, Lisa. "Facing college rejection." February 28, 2009. (February 15, 2010)
- Clark, Kim. "4 Reasons a Rejection Letter Isn't Always The End." March 10, 2009. (February 11, 2010)http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/2009/03/10/4-reasons-a-rejection-letter-isnt-always-the-end.html
- Clark, Kim. "College Acceptance Letters Are Glitzier, but Rejections Are Harsher." February 25, 2009. (February 16, 2010) http://www.usnews.com/articles/education/2009/02/25/college-acceptance-letters-are-glitzier-but-rejections-are-harsher.html
- Coleman, Joey. "Student denied entry to U of T sues for $5 million." December 28, 2007. (February 11, 2010) http://www.macleans.ca/education/universities/article.jsp?content=20071228_134723_1984
- College Board. "Rejected: Now what?" (February 11, 2010)http://www.collegeboard.com/student/apply/letters-are-in/126.html
- Collegewise. "How to Appeal an Admissions Decision." (February 17, 2010) http://www.princetonreviewshanghai.com/eng/download/HowToAppeal.pdf
- Essay Forum. "Appeal a letter of denial for admissions (The University of South Florida)." February 16, 2010. (February 17, 2010). http://www.essayforum.com/essays-term-papers-1/appeal-letter-denial-admissions-university-south-florida-15630/
- Georgian College. "9 Appeals." (February 15, 2009)http://www.georgianc.on.ca/admissions/policies-procedures/appeals
- Johnson, Dirk and Hilary Shenfield. "Appealing a rejection letter." Newsweek. August 1, 2004. (February 11, 2010) http://www.newsweek.com/id/54644
- Kentucky State University. "Denied/Admission Appeal Process." (February 17, 2010) http://www.kysu.edu/admissions/admissionsAppeals.htm
- Letterrep.com. "Appeal letters." (February 11, 2010) http://www.letterrep.com/Appeal_Letters-c-17.html
- Ohio University. "How to write a letter." (February 11, 2010) http://www.ohio.edu/ombuds/documents/writingletter.pdf
- San Diego State University. "Writing an Effective Appeal or Request Letter." (February 11, 2010) http://www.sa.sdsu.edu/ombuds/writingappeal.html
- Schoetz, David. "Harvard Rejection Rate Breaks Record." ABC News. March 29, 2007. (February 16, 2010)http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=2991876&page=1
- Shellenbarger, Sue. "Rejection: Some Colleges Do It Better Than Others." Wall Street Journal. April 29, 2009. (February 15, 2010) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124096471555766239.html
- Simon Fraser University. "Writing an effective appeal letter." (February 11, 2010) http://www.sfu.ca/ombudsperson/Writing_an_Effective_Appeal_Letter.html
- University of California, Berkeley. "The freshman selection process." (February 17, 2010)http://students.berkeley.edu/admissions/general.asp?id=111&navid=N
- University of California, Los Angeles. "Appeals to Admission Decisions -- Freshmen." (February 17, 2010)http://www.admissions.ucla.edu/AppealsFr.htm
- University of California, Santa Barbara. "Appeal process." (February 11, 2010)http://www.admissions.ucsb.edu/parentcounselor/Appealprocess.asp
- University of Houston. "Admission Appeals Process." (February 15, 2010) http://www.uh.edu/admissions/undergraduate/apply-freshman/admissions-appeals/index.php
- University of Ottawa Student Federation. "Appeal letter guidelines." (February 11, 2010) http://www.sfuo.ca/services/appeals/pdf/Guidelines_EN.pdf
- University of Washington. "Guidelines for special admission and appeal." (February 11, 2010) http://admit.washington.edu/Apply/Transfer/Decision/SpecialAdmissions
- University of Victoria. "The ombuds guide to appeals and academic concessions." (February 11, 2010)http://www.uvss.uvic.ca/ombudsperson/pubsguides/Guide%20to%20appeals.pdf
- York University. "Sample Appeal Letter". (February 11, 2010)http://www.yorku.ca/univsec/senate/committees/sac/SAMPLE%20APPEAL%20LETTER.pdf