Writing a Convincing College Appeal Letter: Tips and Considerations

If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts and documentaries like Making a Murderer, you’re probably familiar with the idea of an appeals process. But if you’re reading this, chances are you’re dealing with a rejection from your dream college rather than facing wrongful conviction (look for those silver linings!). Jokes aside, being rejected from your top-choice schools can be emotionally tough. While adults may offer comforting clich├ęs like “Everything happens for a reason” and “Your backup school could be someone else’s dream,” you might still want to try one last shot at acceptance. That’s where writing an appeal letter for college comes in.

Also read Writing a Winning Why This College Essay: 7 Essential Tips for Success

How to Write an Appeal Letter for College

Are you wondering if you can appeal a college rejection? Well, it depends. Some schools allow appeals, while others don’t. In this article, we’ll delve into whether appealing is the right decision for you. If it is, we’ll guide you through the process of crafting and submitting an appeal letter.

Step #1: Act Fast

If you’re considering appealing a college rejection, time is of the essence. You’ll want to initiate the appeal process within days of receiving the rejection letter. Colleges are already in the midst of shaping their incoming freshman class after releasing admissions decisions, so they typically have deadlines for accepting appeals. For example, institutions like Georgia Tech, UCLA, and the University of Maryland set a deadline of April 15. Even if a specific date isn’t stated, it’s best to act swiftly to maximize your chances.

Step #2: Research the School-Specific Appeals Process

Before proceeding with your appeal, it’s crucial to understand whether the college in question allows appeals from rejected applicants. While some schools, such as Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, don’t entertain appeals under any circumstances, others have a formal appeals process, especially public institutions. Conduct thorough research on the school’s website to determine their stance on appeals and any specific guidelines they may have. A quick Google search of “appeals letter [School Name] University” can also provide valuable insights.

Step #3: Identify the Core of Your Argument

Your appeal’s foundation must be crystal clear and presented succinctly, ideally by the applicant themselves, not their parents. It’s essential to ensure that your appeal is substantive and avoids common pitfalls. Here are some arguments and actions to steer clear of:

  1. Resubmitting Materials: Avoid rehashing information already included in your original application, such as your “Why us” essay, extracurricular activities, or awards. Admissions officers have already reviewed these materials.
  2. Comparing Yourself to Others: Refrain from comparing yourself to a classmate who was admitted and asserting that you deserved acceptance more than they did. This type of argument is unlikely to sway the decision.
  3. Listing Other Acceptances: It’s not productive to list other schools that have admitted you. Admissions committees are primarily concerned with evaluating your fit for their institution, not where else you’ve been accepted.
  4. Citing Legacy Status or Family Connections: Mentioning legacy status or family connections to the university is unlikely to influence the appeals process, as these factors were likely considered during the initial decision-making process.

Focus on crafting a compelling argument that highlights new information or circumstances that weren’t previously addressed in your application. Keep your appeal concise, relevant, and persuasive to maximize its effectiveness.

Also see How to write a Motivation Letter for Scholarship (With Example)

Step #4: Craft a Letter with a Friendly and Humble Tone

It may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to maintain a friendly and humble tone when composing your appeal letter. Avoid accusations or insinuations that the admissions committee was unfair or negligent in their initial review of your application. Instead, express humility, politeness, gratitude, and respect for the committee’s time and effort. Acknowledge their workload and the thoroughness of their review process, and convey sincere appreciation for the opportunity to present your case for reconsideration.

Step #5: Keep Moving Forward

While it’s essential to pursue an appeal if you believe you have a strong case, it’s essential to keep realistic expectations in mind. The likelihood of a successful appeal is typically less than 1%, so it’s crucial not to become overly fixated on this outcome. Dedicate time and effort to crafting a compelling appeal letter, but also recognize the statistical reality of the situation. Avoid getting excessively bogged down in the appeals process, as it can detract from other important aspects of your life. Focus on making informed decisions about the colleges where you’ve been accepted, continue to excel in your academic pursuits, participate in extracurricular activities, and cherish the remaining time you have with family and friends during your final months of high school.


The college appeal process can be a challenging and uncertain journey. While it’s natural to feel disappointed by a rejection from your dream school, it’s essential to approach the appeals process with careful consideration and realistic expectations. By acting swiftly, researching the specific appeals process of each school, identifying the core of your argument, and crafting a letter with a friendly and humble tone, you can present the best possible case for reconsideration. However, it’s crucial to remember that successful appeals are rare, and it’s essential to maintain perspective and focus on moving forward positively, regardless of the outcome. Ultimately, the college admissions process is just one chapter in your academic and personal journey, and there are countless opportunities for growth and success ahead.