The Obsession with Dream Schools

When it comes to our college lists, many of us have one school we love far more than the rest. And sometimes, we feel like the world will crumble around us if we don’t get in. But it’s time for a reality check. We need to stop the obsession with dream schools!

Stop romanticizing

We usually believe that our dream schools are perfect and that our lives will be perfect if we go there. But that’s not the case. There are pros and cons to every college. (Realize that before you start school and your expectations won’t be too high.)

This realization will make you feel a lot better in case you don’t get into your dream school. You won’t feel like the world is crumbling around you because you’ll have realized that one school isn’t your whole world.

Yeah, maybe that dream school would have been fun. But it wouldn’t have solved all your problems and made your life amazing. Stop pretending that it will.

Stop worrying about other people

The attraction with dream schools comes partly from the prestige. We envision how proud and impressed everyone will be when we get in. After all, you’ve probably told at least a few people about your top choice. So it would be sort of embarrassing if you ended up getting rejected.

But as soon as you get to college, other people’s opinions won’t matter at all. It will just be you and your new classmates.

If your dream school is your dream because of how others will view it, then you should change your dream. Base your top choice on your own happiness.

Be flexible and realistic

Don’t limit your options by putting all of your eggs in one basket. When you become obsessed with just one reach school, you close yourself off to more realistic possibilities. It’s as if you’re a horse with blinders. You’re so focused on one potential outcome, that you don’t ever stop to consider others.

Consider applying early to a target school that you love. That way, you’ll almost guarantee your spot. If you apply early to your dream reach school, you might not get accepted regular decision at that great target. Sure, there’s a 5% chance that you’ll get accepted at your reach school and you want to increase that chance as much as possible by applying early. But sometimes that’s not the best strategic decision.

You have so many options!

There are so many great schools out there. A school you’ve never heard of before may be a better fit for you than that dream school.

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  • Nadira Berman

    As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school's fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

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