What to Do If You Don't Get into Your Dream College

It’s that nail-biting time of year when colleges are sending their final acceptance decisions to high school students.

And college admissions are no guarantee: The stakes for admittance continue to rise each year with higher volumes of applicants and simply not enough space.


The University of Delaware campus

Getting into the University of Delaware was even tougher this spring because the school decreased its number of acceptances from last year’s 16,232 to 15,459, said Doug Zander, UD’s deputy director of admissions.

While the number of accepted students went down, the number of applicants went up: Zander said the UD admissions office saw 419 more high school seniors apply than last year (26,722 vs. 26,303).

“We are seeing more applications from states outside of our primary region, and more of those students are confirming an intent to enroll,” he said in an email.

That steeper competition has made UD admissions officers raise their standards for diversity, GPA, test scores and international applicants, Zander said.

If UD’s situation follows a national trend, it’s not surprising that many high school seniors don’t get into their dream school. In a widely circulated New York Times column, author and columnist Frank Bruni challenges the notion that attending an upper-echelon school defines your success. He looks at two students whose Ivy League hopes were dashed and instead had fantastic experiences at schools they’d never pictured attending.

In that vein, Zander said everything is in your attitude and the choices you make if you didn’t get into your dream school.

“Let go of that vision and fully embrace the school that offered admission,” he said. “Picture yourself as a successful and happy student on that campus, and then take the steps to make it happen.”

And often, students pare their choices down to two and are torn about which to pick. Zander’s advice? Get more information and be honest with yourself.

“Do your homework,” he said, and ask these questions: “How do the schools measure up with regard to academic quality in your field of interest?  How do they measure up with regard to opportunities for you to engage in service, internships, research, study abroad, career services?  If everything is truly equal, which is a better investment financially?”

You’ll find your answer there, and hopefully, a wave of relief and excitement for the start of a new beginning.



  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Google Plus
  • Share on Pinterest
  • Share on LinkedIn

Leave a Comment