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edited to generalized the question

If someone is claiming that they were rejected from an education program because of defamatory content, how do they provide evidence to substantiate this claim? (Most programs will not disclose specific reasons why a candidate is rejected.)

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    If you are assuming the 'generic response' from the program director is anything other than what every other rejected applicant would get, you would be mistaken. I find it unlikely that the admissions folks would go trawling through social media about the applicants.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 30, 2021 at 22:55
  • The above edit harms the existing answer. An edit should especially preserve quoted text in answers.
    – user6726
    Jul 5, 2021 at 17:20

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if I sue the author of the libelous [sic] content and claim this as part of my damages, will I have to directly show that my rejection was due to the school believing the content?

Yes.

Furthermore, how could this be proven?

Ideally, by having evidence that this was the reason from the school that rejected you. This could be testimony from someone who knows or written evidence of how your application was assessed. Both of which could be subpoenaed and both of which might not exist. Further, if the basis is unlawful under anti-discrimination law, the school has an incentive to pretend that they used a different basis.

Alternatively, if you could demonstrate a clear change in the tone of correspondence from the school before and after the allegedly libellous post(s) were made or came to the attention of the school.

However, ...

You don't seem to have suffered any damage from this rejection as your application fee was refunded. Showing that this particular rejection will affect your future earnings would be ... problematic, especially in light of the fact that it appears that graduate education was not so important to you since you only made one application.

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