Choosing a college is one of the most important steps someone can take during their young adult years. A lot of thought, road trips to tour campuses, and hours spent on perfecting applications go into the fall of senior year. You're bound to have a favorite school, no matter how many you apply to. The school that you absolutely cannot wait to get an acceptance letter from is held miles above the rest because you really cannot imagine going anywhere else.
The harsh reality? Just because a school might be your first choice doesn't guarantee that you're their first choice.
You could have spent hours on the application, gotten amazing letters of recommendation, and fell within their average SAT range, just to receive a painful rejection letter. A letter stating that the applications were the most competitive in school history, and you didn't make the cut. Cue the tears, anger, and heartbreak.
It's okay to be frustrated, but it's not okay to feel like you're just "settling" for another school. Any college acceptance is a huge accomplishment, even when it may not feel like it at the time. Not everyone has the opportunity to further their education, so don't belittle yourself because you didn't get into one school. It's important to remind yourself that you will still be successful, you will still get a degree, and you will still make a life for yourself.
If you didn't get into your dream school, there's probably a larger reason behind it. Maybe the academics didn't align all the way, and if you had slipped in you would have found yourself drowning in the workload. Maybe you applied to a school out-of-state, and you would have been over fifty thousand dollars in debt from student loans just to attend the first year. Or maybe it was a combination of these things. When you applied, how many other students from your school already got in? How did your essays compare? The majority of the time, you'll never have an explanation to why you didn't get in. There isn't anything to gain from letting it haunt you for the rest of your senior year.
It's important to recognize that no matter where you'll end up, you will find your place on that campus. It ultimately comes down to what you make of it. You have the power to make the decision of where you go. You can choose to go where a great deal of your high school friends are going. Or you can branch out on your own and make new friends. You can choose what clubs to join, determine whether or not you want to buy football season tickets, or decide if you want to join greek life. College is a whole new world to mold yourself into whoever you want to be, and you can do that no matter where you go.
At the end of the day, everything happens for a reason. If you were supposed to be at your dream school then you would be. Your path ended up being different than you thought, and that's okay. Your journey could end up being better than it ever could have been at another school.