Dream School Woes

Samantha is a recent graduate from the University of Washington, where she was a member of the Alpha Chapter of Chi Omega and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in History. She is extremely passionate about writing, social media, music, fitness, fashion, and popular culture. Samantha resides in the Los Angeles area, where she is currently freelancing for various organizations. She loves being creative, and strives to ultimately secure employment in the entertainment industry.

As a recent graduate, I will readily assert—as clichéd as it is—that the four years I spent in college were the best times of my life thus far. I made lifelong friends, took many stimulating and interesting classes, and truly evolved into the person that I am today. Hence, it is pretty remarkable for me to look back on my admissions process and remember that the university I chose to attend—a place that so greatly impacted my life—was not my dream school.
I, like countless other applicants, of course had my list of possibilities. There were the safety schools, the match schools, and the reach schools. I had my heart set on the east coast, with two particular universities highlighted in my mind. One was indubitably a reach school, but the other—for as far as my GPA, extra curriculars, and test scores were concerned—was statistically a perfect match. I frequented all the forums, familiarized myself with the university’s official website, and essentially stalked the mailman while waiting for that golden ticket of a decision letter. So when the day finally came that I received my answer—a depressingly small rejection envelope—I was indescribably heartbroken.
It is difficult to avoid envisioning yourself somewhere before your admittance is one hundred percent certain. Applying to college is a process based on setting goals; we want the best for ourselves, for our futures. Things become further complicated when we are raised to be fans of our parents’ schools. I call it the legacy syndrome, in which we not only want to make our alumni parents proud, but also have years and years of hopes and aspirations at stake.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have a dream school at all. We would simply wait until we received all of our acceptances, and then coolly compare and contrast the pros and cons of each school until we reach a decision. In reality, this picturesque scenario is most likely not the case for most people. As such, I would never say that you shouldn’t have a dream school. You should get excited about college and the imminent possibilities ahead of you. But my number one piece of advise to college applicants? Don’t become so immersed in your dream school that you neglect to entertain the idea of attending your other prospects as well.
The funny thing is that now, after graduating, I can’t picture myself anywhere but the college I ended up choosing. I believe your experience is defined by the decisions you make at the school, not by the school itself. Ultimately? Being rejected from your dream school does not have to be a catastrophe. They may not have wanted you or thought you were not good enough, but other schools—the ones you are accepted into—have seen your true potential. Do yourself a favor and give them a chance—you might be surprised to find that it will be the best decision you ever make.

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