When Your Dream School is No Longer Your Dream
Every high schooler knows what the summer before senior year means. Time to start thinking seriously about college applications, drafting your essay, and finalizing your list. For some, this can become all-consuming, taking over your entire life, as you struggle to differentiate between your first and second choice. City school or not, to apply Early Decision or not, how many reaches are too many--these are only some of the questions that seniors find themselves racking their brains with. For the longest time, I thought I would be different.
Ever since seventh grade, I knew where I wanted to end up: New York University. Living in New York City was my dream, and being a student at the school ensured the independence I loved to dream about all throughout middle school and most of high school. I went through the entire website inside and out, watched every “How to Get Into NYU” video on YouTube, and followed as many NYU accounts as I could find. My love for the school bordered on obsessive, and everyone who knew me knew it was where I wanted to end up.
Flash forward to the summer before senior year, three months before the Early Decision deadline. While NYU is still included on my Common App, the ED checkbox is not ticked. So what changed? A lot of things.
There are so many things one needs to consider during the college process, especially when making a choice as intense as ED. ED, which stands for Early Decision, is a process where students apply early to their dream school (usually by November 1), and find out early (usually in December) whether they were accepted or not. What’s the catch? If you get accepted to the school, you have to attend and withdraw all of your other applications. In summation, ED is binding. On one hand, it’s a great option for many, because the number of applications drops significantly, so your chances are often increased. However, the issue with ED that is growing more and more prevalent as college tuitions increase annually is the binding aspect. In many cases, the deciding factor when choosing a university is the price. If a university does not give you sufficient financial aid, but you get accepted ED, you’ll have to attend even if you cannot afford it.
It can be hard to face the reality that your dream school is no longer your dream school. It could be because of the cost, the dropping admissions rate, or simply because your dream has changed. For me, I didn’t want to accept the fact that NYU was no longer where I wanted to end up, because it almost felt like I was betraying the dream I had harbored for so many years. It’s important to understand that even if the college you end up in the fall isn’t the one you thought you would be attending, things will work out. You never know what will be waiting for you, and it could be the best decision you’ve ever made. Even if it isn’t, you can always transfer.
While the stress behind college applications is pretty much inevitable, it’s not endless. People have gotten through it before you, and people will go through it after you as well. It’s all about the way you handle and approach a situation--even if your dreams do end up changing.