It’s Time to Amend the Notion of a Dream College

reach for the and blue moon neon signages
Crystal Liu
Crystal Liu

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Around the beginning of senior year, or perhaps even earlier, you start getting the fated question: People ask it at parties, family reunions, in the hallway at school, and even in the public bathroom when you’re washing your hands. It serves as the perfect follow up question to the just-as-common: “Where are you applying to college?” Perhaps you even have a rehearsed paragraph answer ready to whip out of your pocket. Soon enough, you’ve grown accustomed to hearing those four words roll off someone else’s tongue: “What’s your dream college?”

Why do we hear this question so often? It’s phrased as if everyone must have a dream college, and as if the inquiry is simply a matter of deducting which school is your dream college.

Extra stress

If anything, having a dream college can lead to unnecessary pressure and anxiety during the college application process. It may blindside you to equally-wonderful schools or even worse, prevent you from eagerly pouring your energy into applications for other colleges because those colleges aren’t ‘the one’.

Big disappointments

Like it or not, you might not get in. And what then? Oftentimes, people place all their hopes and expectations on that one golden school, and they feel crushed after not being accepted. This is dangerous. Where you go to college does not define who you are or who you can become, and it certainly isn’t any indication of your intelligence or future potential. College applications are like a gambling game that you play just once in your lifetime – how you take in the result is up to how you want to perceive it.

False pedestal

A dream college may also narrow your perspective and lead you to look over other schools that are just as good a fit for you or that may be even better for your needs as a student. Take a moment to reflect or research – is your dream college really is amazing as you think it is? Take caution especially if you have a dream school that’s been teasing your mind for years or that you’ve been in love with since you were a little kid. Just because your parents went there or because it’s prestigious or because it has a gorgeous campus doesn’t merit you banking your dreams on it.


It’s okay to not have a dream college. In fact, I think it’s better. You’re able to judge each potential college for the bare bones of best fit, instead of any emotional attachment coloring your journey of the application process. When you get rejected to places, which will inevitably happen, you’ll understand that it doesn’t matter in the long run. After all, it’s not like it was your dream college.

Are you having trouble narrowing down just which colleges would be the best fit for you? At Empowerly, our admissions experts can guide you through compiling a college list and help you understand various aspects of colleges. No dream school required. Contact us here to get in touch with an admissions expert who can help increase your chances at getting into the colleges of your choice.

Questions? Let us know!