May 1, College Decision Day, has just passed us. Some members of the class of 2021 decided which school they were attending the day they received their acceptance letter from the school of their dreams, while others decided their future home in the wee hours of the morning on May 1. I was one of the students who had decided where I was going very early; all that was pending was my acceptance. Like many of the teens depicted in movies, I had a dream school. Regardless, when applying to schools, I clicked submit on several applications, applying to 10 schools in total. I wasted money on application fees, money that could have been spent furnishing my dorm room. So why did I do it, and more importantly, why would I advise that other people do?
The answer is that we are all teenagers with wants that change by the minute. Before I had decided on one school at the beginning of my senior year, my favorite school switched daily. UC Berkeley, Columbia University, Northwestern University and UC San Diego are all part of the exclusive group of schools that were at the top of my list for a minute or two. My final number one ended up being the University of Washington, where I will be attending beginning the fall of 2017. Despite this, rarely did I find another student who knew exactly where they wanted to go before decisions came out. So, even for students who don't know where they are going, here are the reasons why you should apply to more than just your dream school.
First, it is a confidence booster. For my particular school of choice, decisions did not come out until mid-March. There was no early decision or action application. I was stuck waiting from the time I submitted my application on November 2 until my fate was told in mid-March. In the meantime, I received acceptances from a few schools that I applied to early action and other schools that had rolling admission dates.
While I was waiting for the school of my dreams to say yes, it definitely made me happy to know that I was getting accepted to other schools so that I did have other options just in case my dream school didn't work out (even though I kept hoping that it would regardless).
Second, it gives you options that you didn't even know you wanted. Despite my idealism of my dream school, when I put all of my acceptances on the table, it did make me think about whether I was making the right choice or not. I was very glad to have the opportunity to reaffirm my decisions, which is something I didn't know I wanted or needed until I had it.
Lastly, I applied to schools I knew I wouldn't go to just in case. While this one is quite obvious, as everyone talks about safety schools when applying to college, know that sometimes safety schools become the only options for some people. There are a select few students at my high school who will be attending their fifth or sixth choice schools as these were their safety schools. The only relief that comes out of that process is that they did press submit on the application for those schools. My tip with this, however, is that you pick safety schools you would actually want to attend. While the title of this piece is, "Why I Applied To Schools I Knew I Wouldn't Go To," it doesn't mean that my safety schools weren't schools that I wasn't interested in attending. I was interested, even just the tiniest bit, in attending every school I applied to. I just knew they weren't all my first choice.
All in all, having a dream school is amazing. The feeling that you get when you know you are accepted and you can finally buy the $300 worth of merchandise that your mother wouldn't let you buy until you were admitted is not like any other feeling. Just remember, applying to just one school, or your dream school and a few other random safeties, is not always the best thing. Get that confidence booster and take a second look. More college acceptances are never a bad thing.
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