College Rejection Letter Samples | How to Write (Format)

College admission rejection

A college rejection letter is the formal letter applicants receive notifying them that they are not being considered for admission into the college. Usually received by mail or email, they are typically short, straightforward, and informational.

The responsibility of receiving admission applications and making college admission decisions is not one to be taken lightly. However difficult, it is the responsibility of the administration to inform applicants when they haven’t been admitted. When considering how much time and effort each student puts into their application, it is the administration’s duty to respect this effort with a polite, empathetic, but clear message of denial.

How to Write (Format) a College Rejection Letter?

A rejection letter is usually written in a business letter format. A standard college rejection letter should include the following:


The letter should begin with a salutation to the student. The letter should not hesitate or wait to inform the student that they have not been accepted, and the notice of denial should be included within the first few sentences of the letter. Since the chances are your university is empathetic to the difficulty of rejection, it’s best to use language like “We regret to inform you” or “Regretfully”, to show your sympathy. It’s best to follow this with recognition of the student’s time, effort, and accomplishments despite not being accepted. The student should be thanked for their hard work and effort, and for choosing to apply to your university.


Next, letters typically justify the denial by talking about the competition seen in the applicant pool. This section assures students that your decision was not easily reached and that the number of students who could be admitted was limited.


Lastly, you should congratulate the student on their academic accomplishments, encourage them to continue to excel, and wish them the best of luck in their future. Close with a standard “Sincerely” or “Best”, leave a few lines of space for a signature, and type your name at the bottom of the letter.

Sample College Rejection Letter

Office of Admission
University of America
123 Main Street
Somewhere, USA 12345
Dear Miss/Mr. [Last Name],
After carefully reviewing your application, we regret to inform you that we are not offering you admission to University of America. We acknowledge the time and energy put into your application and congratulate you on your academic accomplishments. This year’s pool of applicants was the largest and most accomplished we’ve ever received, making our decision very difficult. Although we’d like to extend admission to all our applicants, we have limited space in each admitted class.

We’d like to congratulate you on your impressive academic accomplishments and are confident you will continue to pursue excellence in your studies. Thank you for your time and effort in applying and we wish you the best of luck in your academic future!
Best regards,
John Doe
Dean of Admissions

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    The Dos and Don’ts About Rejection Letters


    • Ensure that you send letters to all the individuals you’ve had personal contact with, for instance, over the phone, referred by someone internally, in-person e.t.c.
    • When drafting the letters, do a letter that builds your brand and institution’s reputation.
    • If you feel the candidate is a “no,” send the letter. Once you feel the candidate is a “maybe,” keep them in the process.


    • Do not send a rejection letter to everyone who applies. There should be communication within your sourcing process when someone applies. In that communication, let them know that only those chosen for interviews will be considered part of the admission process. This implies that you will only communicate with those individuals directly moving forward- the rest, thanks, please apply for other positions that may come up that fit their experience and background.
    • In your rejection letter, don’t tell applicants that you choose someone with better qualifications or someone more qualified- you really don’t know that. Argue that the person you chose was the best fit for your institution at that particular time.
    • Avoid telling people that you will keep them on your file for future consideration. Obviously, that is not the case. Be honest and tell them that if they ever wish to study in your institution, they can apply again and possibly make some internal connections to help move their application to the top.

    At the end of it all, you want your rejection letter to make applicants feel like “I am glad I applied, and I would apply again” and not the other way round.  This is especially because these are the same individuals who would start or continue consuming your products or services.  It might not seem easy, but it is possible.  If you want to know what people perceive of your institution’s rejection process, pick up the phone, contact a few individuals who have made it to various levels of the admission process, and simply ask- those who get rejected are always more than happy to give you honest feedback.

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