What if my dream college rejects me?

close up photography of crumpled paper

If you have your heart set on attending one particular university, the thought of not gaining acceptance might keep you up at night. Many students have a dream college, but given the acceptance rates of many top schools today, the odds of rejection are too high to ignore. That doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world if you don’t get into your dream college though.

First of all, gaining acceptance to any competitive university, even if it was not your first choice, is a remarkable endeavor. It may not seem like it, or it may not comfort you now, and that’s okay. Just know that it’s still true and worth celebrating all the same.

Perhaps more importantly, recognize that this is not your only chance to attend your dream school. If you find that your heart is still set on attending, you can always reapply next year, either as a transfer student or by taking a gap year. You could also attend the school as a graduate student, or for some sort of higher degree. You may find that your dream university works better for a higher degree anyway.

You might also want to critically consider what made a particular school your dream university. Was there something about the academics or professors? Did you like the location, or the size of the school? Answering these questions honestly and specifically may help you to see that one of the other schools you applied to, or are considering applying to, could also be your dream university. Furthermore, you may realize that prestige or name recognition drew you to a certain school rather than more important factors, like how well it would fit your needs.

And in the end, although it sounds cliché, you’ll end up at the school you’re supposed to be at. Perhaps not next year, or perhaps it won’t be the school you thought it would be. But it can be difficult to know what school really would suit you best when you’re working off the limited experience of high school.

Concerns about not getting into your dream college also highlight the importance of not putting all of your eggs into one basket. If you’re still in the application process, the good news is you still have time to craft a great college application. A good college counselor or guidance counselor can help you find all of the tools you need to write a great essay, score well on standardized tests, and make sure you’re presenting your skill set as well as possible. You also have time to find other colleges to apply to besides your dream school. That way, you can balance out your chances of being happy no matter what college you gain acceptance to. 

Questions? Let us know!