The school whose football team you rooted for the majority of your life. Your parent’s alma mater. The “everyone wants to go there” school. The number one ranked school for your desired major. The college just down the block from where you live. The first college you ever visited.
Everyone has that first choice school they’ve been in love with for a long time. Every school you visit is compared to it and none can ever seem to match it. Since day one, that college is where you’ve wanted to go and nothing is going to change your mind. Except for the fact that your first choice school in the beginning probably isn’t actually your first choice at the end.
First of all, let’s face it. Not everyone’s first dream school is obtainable. With a less than six percent acceptance rate, not every kid who dreamed about going to Harvard is going to be able to get it. Even if you have all the grades and extracurriculars, it may not be realistic. While it’s a difficult thing to admit, you might not be able to get into your dream school, even if you have everything they apparently want. Most people who have been through the admissions process has at least one school that they “should’ve gotten into,” but didn’t. On some level, it’s a game of chance.
However, let’s suppose you get into your dream school. It still might not be the school you should go to. Every school has its problems, and unfortunately we are often blind to our dream schools’. When we fall in love with that first school, that’s it. Nothing can be wrong with it. It has a beautiful campus and amazing academics and great people. In our minds, it’s perfect and nothing can change that fact.
One major problem is falling in love with the name. When a school has a name that causes everyone to be impressed, it’s hard not to think that’s the school you should go to. For example, let’s say you got into a big name school and a lesser known, just as good, school. If you go up to anyone and ask them which of the two you should attend, chances are they’ll say the big name school. The reputation of that school often overshadows the great qualities of the other school because of the name. It easy to pick the big name school because it simply sounds better and you’ve fallen in love with the name, not the school.
Another problem that often occurs with dream schools is that you don’t realize any of the problems the school itself has. When you’re first looking at schools, you take everything the admissions staff says as fact. As you go along in your search, however, you begin to realize that they are definitely biased. Unfortunately, you may still think what the people at your dream school said is one hundred percent the truth. For example, I learned way down into my college search process that my dream school had a major issue about dealing with suicides and overstressing students. My first impression? That the school was super awesome and fun. Not exactly the truth.
The biggest problem, however, is not the dream school itself. That school made be perfect in the beginning and perfect at the end. The problem? You. It’s simply naïve to think that you are the same person when you actually submit your application as you were the day you first declared your love for a specific school. You may have changed majors, realized you wanted to live closer or farther from home, or decided that a completely different style of learning is better for you. No matter what the situation is, you aren’t the same person and, while it may have been perfect for the old you, that dream school may not be what you’re looking for anymore.
So, try and visit that school you’ve been dying over again. You may find that it’s no longer what you want, and then you can save yourself the hassle. Or you may find out that it’s exactly what you wanted. It’s hard to tell.