It's May First, which means that if you're a college-bound senior you've chosen your school by now.
The odds are pretty good you're going to your "safety" school, and the odds are very high you're not going to your "dream" school. That's very normal; it has a lot more to do with the economics and logistics of admissions than you as a person. Just ask yourself how many times you've heard "my problems all began when I graduated from a university that wasn't my dream school." You're going to be fine.
But there's a way to make sure you're going to be great, and that's to remind yourself that whatever it is you were looking for is available where you're going.
When you strip away the names and specifics but instead focus on the qualities that you were looking for, you can almost certainly find those qualities at the school you're going to attend.
Prestige? Wherever you're going, they'll have a Dean's List, honor societies, and awards. Go for it.
Social connections? Unless you accidentally applied to a monastery instead of a university, there will be people who want to do fun things with other people. There will be clubs, there will be friendships, there will be parties. The people you bond with will go on to do interesting things after college, and many of them will still consider you a friend and an important part of their lives. You'll still consider many of them a friend and an important part of your life.
Career Opportunities? Your school will have some version of a Career Services office. Start going to that office your first year of college. Look for advice, internships, and opportunities.
Leadership roles? You've probably heard a quotation from one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, Twelfth Night: "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." If you're upset that you didn't get into your top-choice school, you may be feeling like you definitely weren't born great. But the other two options are still very available. You've got this.
School spirit and community? So maybe you're not going to be cheering on your team with 30,000 or more other fans. But there will still be a team, and they still want your support, and they sell face paint in small towns, too.
Personal fulfillment? That happens independent of where you go to school. And 95% of the work is actively done by you, not something you receive from teachers or opportunities. This short-term disappointment may be exactly what your personal fulfillment needs.
A strong program in your major? The majority of college students change their major. You're going to be great.
A magical name that will automatically open doors and make you happy just by being there? As we say in the South, bless your heart. Or, more constructively, here's a book recommendation for you.
Now that you've finished the process, go back and spend a little time on the first steps of the process, this time specifically geared toward your future school. What kind of person are you? In what types of situations do you thrive, and in what types of situations do you want to thrive? What qualities are you looking for in a college? Taking some time on these things will get you focused on the right things, like your personal goals and not just your resume.
Thanks for reading, and congratulations on accepting a college! Please share this with someone who would like to read it. Make sure you recommend Apply with Sanity to all your friends and colleagues who will go through this process in the coming years. They--and you--can follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and Twitter.