5 Things To Do If You Get Rejected From Art School


Didn’t get into your dream art school?
Making a college decision by May 1? You need this now!

by Elaine Pelz

Applying to art school is simultaneously thrilling and nerve-wracking. Then the emails, texts, and letters arrive. Some offer great news (congratulations!!), and others not so much. Most likely you will get rejected from at least one place you had your heart set on. How you deal with it is telling.


1. Grieve.

Rejection is not fun. Period. However, it is a fact of life, and often something to grow from. Grieving is a part of life as well, and actually a great healer. Don’t run away from your disappointment. And don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family for support, that’s what they are there for. Talking about painful things with people you trust can help you process events and help you determine your next steps, but also know that this is your experience and being pro-active now will help you move on more quickly.

2. Don’t take it personally.

It’s easy to say, and I know it feels personal. This is especially true with art school since it is your ART we’re talking about here! It is your work and a deep part of who you are. Facing rejection and learning from it is a critical skill all artists must learn to deal with. Remember the only thing you are in control of is your own behavior. Don’t see this as a reflection of your ability or take it as a sign to quit. The reality is, there are more talented individuals than there is space available on campus. Institutions can only accept so many students each year. They also want a demographically diverse student body. You might not meet their needs right now.


3. Switch things around.

If you haven’t already, consider a liberal arts college or university. Your education won’t be as intensive but there are other advantages. You’ll still be able to study the art you love, just in a different environment. Benefits include possible cross-pollination with those in other majors. Who knows, you might create a brand new field of study! More traditional colleges often offer cross-disciplinary programs. Other advantages include larger sports programs, more scholarship opportunities, and a broader array of student organizations.


4. Stay engaged.

Don’t let this rejection stop you. Private art colleges, state colleges, and local communities offer numerous evening and weekend classes. By attending these you can strengthen your skills, learn new ones, and meet others just as passionate as you. If a private art college is still the route for you, apply again or re-apply to the same school. Either way, keep in touch with the art school admissions office to make sure any classes you take can be used to transfer credits. Continue to improve your work! Your gained skills will be apparent, as will your dedication to your craft and your interest in their institution.

“Your direction is the path you’re on.”

5. Don’t look back.

Quoting a friend of mine, “Your direction is the path you’re on.” Translation: your future is in your hands. There is no wrong way to move forward. Your college and career paths don’t need to follow a prescribed or traditional route. Fact is: most career paths are not straight and narrow, especially creative ones. Create your own path; you’ll be amazed at where it leads you.

Author Elaine Pelz founded art.college.life. in 2012 as a resource for families with teens wanting to study art and design in college. art.college.life. is a culmination of Elaine’s lifelong passions for the arts and education, and her 25+ years of business, marketing, and recruitment experience. A textile designer herself, she lives in Central Ohio, but is a California girl at heart. When not soaking up new information about visual arts colleges, Elaine can be found traveling with her husband, and enjoying time with her two 20-something kids.

Contact Elaine Pelz – art. college. life.