Why Your 'Dream College' Isn't a Real Thing
There are thousands of YouTube videos showing teens anxiously opening up large envelopes and emails that reveal whether or not they got into their dream school—as well as tears of joy from both teens and their parents when the answer is shown to be a resounding "You're in!"
What these videos rarely reveal, of course, is what happens when the applicant doesn't get into their dream school. After all, few people want to post the video in which the tears aren't exactly happy. However, for every person who gets into their "dream college," there's another person who doesn't. And while it's completely understandable to be upset, there's a secret you should probably know.
That "dream school?" Yeah, it's not actually a thing.
That can be hard to grasp, especially if you just got rejected from a place that you thought would be your home for four years or beyond. While you should allow yourself time to be disappointed, once you're ready to hear them, here are some reasons why your dream college is more a fantasy than a reality.
Your Dream College Experience Only Exists in Your Head
Colleges spend millions of dollars on advertising every year in order to beef up their brand and essentially sell their specific college experience to prospective students. Maybe you can picture yourself chatting with friends on the school's lush quad or even taking an awesome pop culture class with a Twitter-famous professor. It's not that all these experiences couldn't happen at your dream college, or that you wouldn't enjoy them—it's just that you haven't experienced them yet. Advertising can be deceiving, and just because your first choice school is being sold to you as a perfect higher education utopia, doesn't mean your experience will be just like the brochure.
A Big-Name College Means a Lot Less Than You Think
You know how every teen movie has its characters either going to Harvard, Stanford, or NYU? While they're all great schools, they're also easily recognizable names—which can make you assume that if you don't go to one, your college isn't on par or you won't get as good of an education or experience. The thing is, that's simply not true: There are hundreds of colleges in the United States alone, and while not all of them are Harvard, all have something of value to offer even if their alumni pool doesn't include Natalie Portman and Elle Woods. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that schools that aren't big names have many of the same things you were seeking to find in more recognizable institutions, be it a city atmosphere, top-notch psychology program, or even awesome study abroad opportunities.
Getting Into Your Dream School Doesn't Mean Instant Happiness Forever
It's easy to assume that getting accepted into the college of your choice will make your next four years total smooth sailing, but college can be challenging no matter where you go. If you just got rejected from your dream school, it can be easy to think that you're guaranteed to be miserable until you transfer to that perfect institution, but that's just not how things work. One place can be a better fit for you than another, but no one place is a perfect fit, and even if something is pretty close, there will always be bumps along the road.
You Can Find the Things You Love About One School in Another
Once you get over not going to the school of your choosing, it can be hard to find a backup plan—after all, you had your heart set on that one place. However, it's worth remembering that you didn't just love a school because of its name alone. If you make a list of the top things you loved about your dream college, you can more easily find the schools that fit the same criteria with a clear head.
Many People Who Had Great College Experiences Did So at Their Second, Third, or Even Fourth Choice
Here's the thing about college: Once you're in school, you don't spend a lot of time harping on the one you didn't go to. You're too busy navigating life where you're at. Plenty of people didn't get into their top choice school but made the most out of their time at their backups—so much so that they would never decide to go back and see how things would have worked out at whatever original school they were so heartbroken over.
College can be a really exciting time, but the idea of a dream college often does more harm than good. Ultimately, there's no perfect plan for life, and that includes college.
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