It's college admission season, which means that universities across the United States are preparing rejection letters to crush the starry-eyed dreams of students everywhere. I don't mean to be blithe; two years ago, that starry-eyed student was me, and I didn't get just one crushing rejection letter, but three. However, those rejection letters weren't the end for me. If you're struggling with a rejection from your first-choice college, rest assured that they're not the end for you, either. Here are some things to keep in mind if you're struggling with the dreaded reality of having to attend your second (or third, or fourth) choice college.
1. Stay positive.
It's easy to be discouraged by a rejection letter, but try to find the silver lining. Is your second-choice school giving you a scholarship? Is the tuition less expensive? Is it closer to home than your first-choice pick? Do they offer an interesting class, exciting club or honors program that your first choice doesn't? Finding one or two things that your second-choice school does better will help take out some of the sting of rejection and put you in the right mindset for making the most out of your time there.
2. Do some research.
The easiest way to discover the bright sides of your second-choice college is to do some research. Sometimes when we're picking schools, we're blinded by our loyalty to our first-choice college and miss some of what other schools have to offer. Now that your first pick is off the table, browse through your school's website again, paying special attention to events, clubs and programs that excite you. While you're at it, hit up Google Maps to find out what public resources and cool places are within a reasonable commuting distance. You never know what hidden gems you'll find.
3. Rank doesn't matter.
Some of us are disappointed by our rejections because we're afraid of receiving a lower-quality education, particularly those of us whose first-choice school was in the Ivy Leagues. However, studies show that it doesn't make much difference where you went to college in terms of earnings; rather, what matters is your skills and work experience. So instead of getting hung up on your rejection from Princeton, start researching awesome internships to get your career off the ground.
4. Remember that your experience is what you make of it.
You're going to hate your second-choice school much more if you hide in your dorm room all day, don't get involved in activities and determine to dislike everything and everyone you encounter that doesn't measure up to your first-choice school. That's just common sense. Make the best of your lot and stay open to whatever opportunities and experiences your college offers. I promise there'll be something that you'll love. But...
5. If all else fails, you always have more chances.
If you genuinely cannot stand your school once you get there, you aren't trapped for four years. Sometimes a certain school really isn't the right fit, at which point you're well within your rights to transfer. In fact, you even have the option of reapplying to your first-choice school again to see if you can do better a second time! Regardless, there will be a school out there that's right for you. Stay open to it, because it may not be your first choice at all.