What if My Dream College Rejects My Application?

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Kristen Seikaly
Kristen Seikaly

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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. However, given the acceptance rates of many top schools today, the odds of rejection are too high to ignore. Now, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world if you don’t get into your top choice school. Instead, take time to create a satisfactory plan for the chance that a dream college rejects your application. It will be worth the simple reassurance of being prepared.

Celebrate what you accomplish

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.

All is not lost

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.

What can you take with you?

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.

Trust the process

And in the end, although it sounds cliché, you’ll end up at the school that fits you best. Perhaps not next year; and it may not even be the school you originally thought. 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. Try to see from the college’s point of view; if you dream college rejects your application, they aren’t rejecting you as a person—they just think you would thrive more somewhere else.

Think about the big picture

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. Together, you’ll write a great essay, score well on standardized tests, and make sure you’re presenting your skill set as well as possible.

You’ll 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 choose to attend. If you are only choosing between certain options, consider the upsides of each path. Work to remain positive about the opportunities that await you at your new dream school: the one where you will take your next steps.

Questions? Let us know!