You took the SATs, wrote your admissions essay, and sent off your application. Now, months later, you get that much-awaited envelope from THE college - the one you've dreamt of attending since you knew what a university was. You did everything you could possibly do to get in, from enrolling in AP Literature to tacking on that fourth after-school activity. You just know in your heart that this school is the one for you, so you rip open the envelope and begin reading... and it isn't good news.
I know, I know - it really sucks. No one said that getting rejected from anything is easy, but being denied from what you considered your dream school means that you're also forced to change your vision of the future. The vision you had of you hanging out with your new college friends on that particular quad may be dead (for now, at least) but before you decide to lock yourself in your room for the next four years, you may want to consider these facts. Here's why getting rejected from your dream school has its perks - because I promise you, they're there.
1. It forces you to look at your other options more critically.
Having your heart set on Perfect University is great, but let's be honest - did you really give many other schools a thought? If you devoted all of your time and energy into getting into your dream school, you may not have thought about other schools that could be just as good of a fit. If you're still planning on attending college, you can use your rejection to think about what you really want from your college experience. Did you love how hands-on the film program was at USC, or the study abroad opportunities at Syracuse? You might be surprised by what other schools have to offer that are on-par with the one you chose.
2. You can find a school that relies less on numbers.
Schools reject students for a number of reasons, and yes, sometimes those reasons have a lot to do with numbers - like your SAT score and GPA, for example. Not all schools care that much about those digits. If you think that you didn't make the grade solely because your lower-end scores, maybe that university wasn't for you. There are plenty of colleges that accept individuals based on the whole package - time to rebrand yourself and find a place that will appreciate every part of your application.
3. It could save you money.
If your dream school was the most prestigious one on your list, there's a chance that it was also the most expensive. Highly competitive schools tend not to give out too many merit-based scholarships, simply because the pool is full of bright kids with high test scores. If there's another awesome school on your list that's a little bit less academically competitive, you might be able to earn a scholarship that can help you pay for college and allow you more freedom to do fun things like study abroad or intern in a cool city.
4. It can open doors for better opportunities.
People have this idea that you must go to the most prestigious college on your list in order to have the best chance at succeeding academically. That's not the case at all - in fact, attending a lesser-known school may help you stand out in a smaller pool of people. It's harder to stand out at a college like Harvard that boasts a ton of brainiacs, but if the campus life is a bit more mixed, you may find you can carve a little niche for yourself at school in a way you couldn't otherwise.
5. It can make you grow as a person.
You probably picked your dream school because of all the things you like about it right now. But as anyone who went away to college can attest to, you won't be the same person after four years as when you first started. You might think you know exactly what you want to study, where you want to intern, and what kinds of people you want to be friends with, but that all could change over time. Don't put yourself into a small box - college is meant to be an adventure and growing and learning new things about yourself is part of the fun.
6. It can make you think about what you really want.
If your dream school is the only one you've ever wanted to attend - or the only one you applied to - getting rejected can really rock your world. But maybe that's a good thing. If you can't imagine attending a different university in the fall, taking a gap year to travel or do charity work could help you make a clearer decision with your future. Who knows - maybe you won't even want to apply to that dream school come the next fall.