What happens when you didn’t get into your top choices, but you did get into more than one “not quite right” school? Take a second to acknowledge your disappointment. Your ego may have taken a bit of a hit, but remember, you still got into some great programs. They might even be right for you in ways you don’t realize yet–or you could also decide to put off entering grad school next year and apply again. Either way, it’s not the end of the world. (Though it might feel like it!) Assess your options. Are there school programs that are obviously better than others (both in terms of reputation but also for you in other ways like location, flexibility of schedule or whatever else works best for your situation)? If yes, look only at the one or two at the top of the pile. Grad school is no easy step to take. It’s a lot of money (unless you got a full scholarship in which case, why are you reading this blog–send in your acceptance!) and a lot of time. It also sets you on a new path and that’s nothing to take lightly. If your concerns are about the reputation of the program and your ability to get your dream job afterward, reach out to some alumni of the program, particularly those in your specific niche area. Find out what the program did (or didn’t do) for them, and tips they have for you. It’s not enough to know someone graduated from the program and landed a job with the UN. You want to know what impact the program had on her ability to land that job, and how the program could help you. Make sure you are talking to at least one or two recent graduates as programs can change over time. A program that was previously not so great can become great and vice versa. Do a serious assessment of your worries. They may actually be unfounded, or perhaps it’s a program where you have to put a bit more into it but can get just as much out as you would from your top choice. If your concerns instead are related to other factors–a location that makes it hard for your partner to accompany you, a program with a rigid schedule that means you can’t continue to do consulting work with your current company, or any number of other things–it’s time for the good old plusses and minuses list. Grad school is important but so is the rest of your life. Think about whether you can forgo those other factors for the one or two years of the program and what impact that will have. If your gut is telling you it’s just not right, it’s probably just not right. If you did have options you applied to that were right for you–whether for the reputation or the other side factors–see what you can do to find out why you weren’t accepted and if you have a chance next semester or next year. If you think you’re a good candidate for next year, the time between now and then is probably worth getting all your other ducks in a row. On the flipside, if you don’t think you have a good shot at acceptance next year to your top choices, you’ll want to find out what you risk by turning down the offers you do have. It’s also worth exploring if deferrals are an option, so you have more time to decide if the program works for you or adjust other things in your life such that you can make it work. Finally, remember that whatever you choose, you’ll be OK. The program that wasn’t quite right is probably still pretty darn good. And if you don’t end up in grad school this year, there are many other paths you can take, including getting on the application train again for next year!