How To Respond To A Dream School Rejection
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Learning To Adapt When Your Dream School Is No Longer An Option

Plan B often becomes our reality, for worse or for better.

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Learning To Adapt When Your Dream School Is No Longer An Option

If you knew me in high school, specifically senior year, you would know that I had my mind and heart set on attending Penn State University. It seemed like the perfect dream college, from the social aspect of immense school spirit and Greek Life to the academics and prestige. I was confident that I would get in, so I didn't pay much attention to other schools or intend on applying to too many others. Within two weeks of applying, I was accepted and instantly made it official that I would be a Nittany Lion the following Fall. I told all of my friends and even included it in my Instagram Bio, "PSU 2020."

It wasn't until my parents sat me down and told me that Penn State was too expensive, providing little to no financial aid, that reality set in — I wouldn't be a Nittany Lion after all.

I felt beyond lost. At that point, it was too late to apply to other colleges. Friends had already bought me Penn State gear, from hats to shirts, sweatshirts, socks, etc. I had to fight back tears daily because I felt like nothing could go my way in the college search and felt embarrassed in school when people questioned why I had changed my mind. Everyone knew I wanted to go, but suddenly I had to take that back and search for somewhere new to hopefully call my home.

I was left with five schools to decide from: two in Connecticut, one in Ohio, one in Minnesota that I applied to for the hell of it, and one in Virginia. Coming from a small town in Bergen County, New Jersey, I wanted to leave my home state badly. Most people from my high school move on to Big Ten or other big name party schools, such as Penn State, Michigan University, Syracuse University, Indiana University, University of Wisconsin, etc. People attending smaller schools didn't receive nearly as much excitement as those attending schools like these.

After finally accepting that Penn State was no longer an option, I decided to look into a school I hadn't heard much about until the summer before my senior year. With around 20,000 undergraduate students, a Division I football team, Greek Life, and the right major, it seemed like a good fit for me. It was time for a trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia. All it took was a six-hour drive and a quick tour around campus and I knew James Madison University was going to be my home. And so, my "Plan B" became my reality and I was a JMU Duke.

Don't get me wrong, I love my school and all of the opportunities it has given me, the friends it has introduced me to, and the lessons it has taught me; however, it is often difficult to compete with my friends from home at the big-name schools. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "Wait, you have a football team?" or "Do you party or tailgate?". To answer those questions, yes, yes, and yes. While remarks like these often make me question what my life would be like now if I had gone to Penn State or a similar school, I have learned to accept that my college experience is different from my friends and it should be that way.

I have learned that "Plan A" isn't always going to work, and B and C might not work either; but sometimes, the outcome we least expected is the one best suited for us, what some may call fate. For me, my second choice became my only choice, the right choice, my home.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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