There is nothing worse than rejection. One thing though that may come close is being rejected from your dream school: the pride and joy of your goals, the constant thought on your mind, the place you build and build so much hope for. For me, there was no greater disappointment than finding out that I was not good enough for the school I dreamed about for so long. My dream college was more than just a school or something I badly wanted, it was a shiny promise of a glorified future that became my life and all that I focused on.
During junior year, more times than many, I found myself googling its acceptance rates, locating where I stood on the graphs, ogling at the campus pictures and stalking anything and everything that came to that college. Wanting just the idea of getting in and not the actual school quickly consumed me. And despite doubters telling me it was too difficult to get into and my parents warning me about not getting my hopes up or setting my sights too high, I didn’t listen. I was going there, I didn’t care about my odds or what everyone else said or secretly thought. I wanted this, and for once I was going to get what I wanted, I worked too hard not to.
But very shortly, this mystical idea of actually going there was wrenched out from under me, and my world that I so perfectly centered around my obsession with this school came tumbling down. All with the prompt and generated response of the admissions board informing me that they, "Unfortunately were not able to offer me a spot for fall admission at that time as the application class that year was their biggest yet.” And just like that, my dreams were crushed and the chance to even be able to pursue all that I had hoped to do at that school was denied.
Left was an empty hole inside of me where I had whimsically allowed my love for that particular college to root itself. But I was also left with this weird sense of ambiguity over what I was supposed to do next. And believe me, this feeling of uncertainty was foreign to me. All my life I had known that I was going to go to my dream college, become a journalist and live happily ever after. My life was set since I was in middle school, but now I had no other schools I felt even a hint of passion towards and nowhere I actually saw myself. When I pictured my future anywhere but my dream school, all I saw was a black abyss.
I went from being that one kid who knew exactly where she was headed with her life to being completely clueless, lost and feeling desperately hopeless. For a while I was stuck in this lengthy stagnant period where I made no progress on picking a college and wallowed in my recently rejected misery.
At one point in my process I just told myself, “Ok you need to pull yourself together and learn to like one of these schools.” I knew that since my heart was still set on my dream school that I couldn’t just pick whichever school felt like the one as none of them would. I could not rely on my emotions for this hard decision, I had no choice but to logically look at pros and cons which led me to my final choice, Pennsylvania State University. Though Penn State is a great university, at the time I didn’t know much about it in great detail (the way I had with my dream school) and despite acting like it, deep down I wasn’t truly excited about going there--the way my friends were about their schools. I felt like I was settling, and it sucked going to a school I had no intent on going to in the first place. It was even harder watching everyone else gleefully talk about their colleges with beaming smiles across their face and college spirit wear.
As college inched forward, and all anyone ever asked you was where you were going, who were you rooming with, were you excited etc., I knew I could not keep up this defeated mindset any longer, and a shift in feelings towards my school needed to occur. After somewhat moving on from my rejection, I realized I could not keep begrudgingly thinking about Penn State in the manner that I did. If I wanted to enjoy college, I needed to learn to love my school or I would just be setting myself up for transferring or a bad experience. In order to do so, I had to first completely erase my dream school from my mind and stop comparing Penn State to it. It was time that I gave Penn State a fair chance, separating it from my past standards entirely. By doing this I was able to discover little things about Penn State that I really liked and hadn’t even known about before. With time, I found more and more aspects of Penn State that I liked and these began to stack up, making me quickly realize that Penn State had so much to offer me and I was so lucky to be going there next year. Talking to friends, family and other future Nittany Lions also helped me learn to appreciate Penn State; after being told countless times how much fun I was going to have and what an amazing school it was, I was able to agree one hundred percent with the good reviews and get truly excited for my experience at Penn State to start.
The whole time I had been so caught up in this unrealistic perception that my dream school was perfect and no other school could compare, and I was unable to notice the good in other schools. But when setting this misconception aside, I was able to look back at this whole process and wish that I would have had an open mind for all schools because now I can confidently say that I love my future and my once "just a plan B school," Penn State. I would advise incoming seniors that it’s great to have dreams and dream schools, but to also give each school an equal amount of consideration because you never know what school you will fall in love with.
Lead Image Credit: Cole Camplese via Flickr Creative Commons