To The High School Senior Who's Not Going To Their Dream College
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Student Life

To The High School Senior Who's Not Going To Their Dream College

You've been given a different path for a reason

To The High School Senior Who's Not Going To Their Dream College
Julia Kinder

It’s spring of your senior year, and you should be buzzing with blissful senioritis. You see your friends walking around the halls proudly wearing sweatshirts that represent their dream schools. You’re happy for them, of course. You wish you could echo the sentiment that you’re in love with the place you’re about to spend the next four years.

Maybe the letter you thought would start with "Congratulations!" really said you didn't make the cut. You have to explain to friends and family why you don’t wear that sweatshirt anymore. You feel guilty for being crushed over a “first-world problem,” but that doesn’t make the rejection sting any less.

Maybe your letter came with good news that seemed to validate you. You had that moment of screaming with joy with your parents and putting up posters in your room. Then the financial aid packet came, and you can’t choose between putting a huge burden on your parents and swimming in future debt. So your dream school gets stuck in the dream world. The fact that it was almost a reality makes it harder to get over.

Maybe college just isn’t an option for you. Maybe your family is struggling due to an illness, addiction, or financial situation, and you just can’t leave them behind. Maybe you got the grades, but you really need to wait and earn some money before you can get that degree. So you do what you need to do: work, study, help your family. You know you’re doing the right thing, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when you get compared to the Ivy-bound valedictorian and look like something less worthy.

Let me tell you right now you are not less worthy.

Your capacity to do great things is not restricted by the institution on your diploma, your GPA, or your future salary. You can still be that person you always wanted to be; you just might have to do it differently than you planned.

The end of high school is bittersweet; it combines the ambiguous promise of the future with the death of childhood. Part of growing up is realizing that things don’t always go how we planned. (And the fact that you're getting a glimpse of that now will help you to handle bigger changes in the future.) You might have to adjust your expectations. Your life will not be absent of struggles, but those hardships can make you braver. Your dreams might have to change shape for them to become a reality, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them go.

In fact, the unexpected place can be the best place. I've been in your shoes, and now I can say that's been true for me. I had to put down my "dream plan," for a minute (which was hard), but I had to let go of the things I thought I wanted before I could be open to what I really needed. Looking back, I'm so thankful for the people who told me to figure out where I belonged, and not to make my decision based on the expectations of my teachers and peers.

I’m convinced that the people who do the most good are the ones who aren’t afraid to do things differently. We've all been given different paths for a reason; we can't make the right choice when we're lost in comparison. Sometimes we have to just do what's right for us right now, and there is no shame in that. Don't let rejection get you down. Follow those dreams, but don't be afraid to chart another course. Don't let that "perfect plan" take your eyes off the wonderfully unpredictable future you've been given.

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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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