Dear Catherine, Do you have any advice for the waiting-for-decision-to-come-out agony? ahhh I can’t stop thinking about what’s going to happen and whether or not I’ll get into my dream school or any school for that matter and I don’t know how to stop myself from obsessing over this.

Dear high school senior readers on the verge of an angsty explosion as you await the response of your “dream school”,

Hi. 🙂 How ya doin’? Are you breathing? Please breathe.

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS ON APPLYING TO COLLEGE! You’ve taken the first step towards furthering your education beyond what is mandated of you (by the state, at least. Hi, Mom.) That is something to be proud of. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. #LearningIsCool

As a current Stanford sophomore, I remember quite well the college-decision-waiting-game. It’s amazing for me to think that it was only two years ago that I was standing in your very metaphorical shoes. (And by amazing I mean scary as fuq. Like where does the time goOoOoo!???) I’d like to offer you, Dear Reader, some words of support that I believe you’ll find helpful as you prepare to receive your acceptance (I’m sure) and rejection (I’m sorry) letters.

Let’s start here:

Dream schools are a buncha baloney.

Hear me out.

For some reason, everyone expects you to have a dream school. Holla if you couldn’t begin to count how many times your teachers and peers have asked you what your “first choice,” school is. In my experience, the dream school isn’t so much the school where students eat sunshine and sh*t rainbows– like the name might suggest– it’s the school that students believe will hand them the best pre-packaged college experience, complete with the best major, the best faculty, the best friends, the ~*prestige*~, hype, hype, hype.

The problem with the notion of a “dream school” is that it insinuates that at only ONE school can you have the IDEAL college experience. (And THAT is just a bunch of slimy, circular meat product.) In reality, no matter where you go, you can have an AMAZING college experience, and it will only be ruined if you go into it thinking your school sucks or isn’t as good as the next one.

No matter where you go, you can have an AMAZING college experience, and it will only be ruined if you go into it thinking your school sucks or isn’t as good as the next one.

For this reason, and to stave off unnecessary heartbreak, I want to urge you, Dear Reader, to not get your heart set on any one school in particular. Not Stanford, not anywhere. If you don’t get in to said school, you risk having a negative outlook on whatever school you DO end up going to, and that would be the greatest shame of all, since (like anything in life) college is all what you make of it.

Even though your chances of getting into your “Dream School” are one-in-whatever absurdly large number, your chances of having a PHENOMENAL college experience is not a chance at all. How you choose to spend the next four years of your life is entirely within your control. No matter where you end up, you can do all the things that make college so amazing: Try new things, expand your mind, travel, throw yourself off the cliff edge of your comfort zone, and of course make friendships with the people who make your heart feel like it’s full of rainbows and sunshine. Besides, what you get out of college, not the college itself, is the part that matters.

I know it must be tempting to watch videos of my college experience and associate what you see with Stanford. But I encourage you to fight that. I love my school, but what makes college great are the people you meet and the experiences you have. You can have amazing friends and an amazing college life no matter where you go– and I believe you WILL if you believe it.

Here’s the part that’s gonna make a lot of people upset

So close your eyes, DR. And, perhaps for the first time, instead of picturing yourself jumping for joy over a letter of acceptance, picture yourself opening up a rejection email.

Envision the words on the screen.

Feel the tightness in your jaw and the swelling of your eyelids.

Then, hear the silence.

Stillness.

Calm.

Visualize yourself taking a deep breath (in… out…),

perhaps shedding a tear or two (it’s okay to cry),

and then smiling and knowing it’s all going to be okay.

Dream College Experiences, NOT Dream Schools

You’re going to have a great college experience if you go into it knowing that those four years can be the best four of your life. Like I’ve said on this blog a million times before, life is all about perspective. Set yourself up for success in the only way you can: By being truly content with all the possible outcomes.

Lastly, Dear Reader, know that I am rooting for you. I am crossing my fingers and knocking on wood and blowing dandelions in the wind– hoping and wishing and praying that I get to meet you at Admit Weekend this spring. ❤ That being said, I take comfort in knowing that if you decide to make it so, you will have the dream college experience no matter what. Besides, everything always happens exactly the way it’s supposed to. 🙂

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This is me giving you a hug

Um abraço enorme e a sorte mais boa,

A big hug and the best of luck,

Cath ❤

Update 3/10/16, 4:40 PM:

Please see this question I just answered on ask.fm/cathincollege:

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 4.41.32 PM

 

Written by Catherine Goetze

Catherine Goetze www.cathincollege.com Find me on social media! Facebook: www.facebook.com/cathincollege Twitter: @catherinegoetze Instagram: @catherinegoetze SnapChat: @catherinegoetze Contact me: cathincollege@gmail.com

17 comments

  1. Cath, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou for writing this. I’ve been telling myself everything you mentioned since I started the dreaded college application process, but hearing someone else say (well, write) it has a completely different and, most likely, much better effect. Again, I cannot thank you enough! I wish you the best on all of your future endeavors!! You, Cath, are one phenomenal human being. 🙂 ❤

    Like

  2. I remember you mentioning this idea in one of your videos…

    I must say that, like many “children of California,” Stanford has been my dream school. Woohoo. Naturally induced by the spare time that winter break affords, my – heh heh – *~*research*~* into Stanford student life intensified the already intense love I had for this school (which I didn’t even think was possible). I applied regular decision with the arts portfolio, by the way, so when I learned a bunch of new stuff about the school, my application had already been thrust into the CommonApp ether, never to be touched by my keyboarding hands again.
    So anyway, all o’ y’all fellow seniors, I know it’s tempting rebuff this post, calling bologna on this alleged baloney, and I completely understand because I felt the same way. Stanford… it’s beautiful. It’s comprised of amazing people, for one thing, and beyond that, its extended list of pros is seemingly endless. It appears to be the perfect place, yeah? I know why I myself want to go to Stanford — I have a list of personal reasons comparable to the aforementioned endless list of pros. I had even visited the place just before NSO; I went to the doctor there, too (I mean, can you get any more attached to a place other than where you receive such commendable healthcare in a time of need?). There was no way that I was going to give up Stanford as my “dream school.” Then Cath quoted her mother, saying “Expectation is the root of all heartbreak.” Tbh, I didn’t heed the saying for quite a while, but look, now here I am lecturing my contemporaries about it lol.
    I understand the crippling emotion that we seniors encounter while dwelling on the possible outcomes of our applications. Heck, I skipped all my classes the day I applied to Stanny because I was a total and complete wreck. So I know how it feels, but you just gotta let that stuff wear off, man, because you can either make the decision to be content or you can make the decision not to be content. It’s a simple decision that’s hard to make. That’s how you know it’s an important one, too, though.
    What I suggest is to think about it: why do YOU want to go there? It’s such a simple question, I know, and kind of cliché, too, but it’s one that actually really helps. Map out your reasons and evaluate them critically. It’s not about if you fit into the school; it’s about if the school fits you.

    Well, this was a really long comment. Sorry about that, but I really hope it helps because I too know how it feels to be desperately yearning for a Stanford acceptance. If you were wondering, I don’t know if I’m in yet or not, so there’s that. And yes, Stanford is still my “dream school,” but before you start throwing tomatoes, know that essentially, I have decided to make the best out of wherever I go. It sounds so dumb until you actually experience this liminal crossing yourself. Just try it. While we’re still waiting anxiously for the day of April 1st when Stanford will disclose its admission decision to each of us, just work on your own decision to be happy, be helpful to others, and stay diligent.

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  3. Dear Cath, my dream school is Stanford and I want to get in so bad. And u made me realize that if I don’t get in, I don’t need to lose hope that college is not gonna be fun.
    Hello from Canada💖

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  4. Hey Cath,

    Sadly, I found out yesterday that I won’t be spending the next four years of my life at the Farm, but want to thank you for both this poignant post and the rest of your blogs and videos, which have provided much-needed advice, wisdom, and levity to this crazy process we call “College Applications.” I try (and succeed, mostly) to keep the same perspective on college acceptance, and higher education in general. So, while I’m a bit sad that being a Tree is no longer in my immediate future, I know that, in the end, life will take me where I’m meant to go, even if that place isn’t Stanford, and I’ll make the best out of whatever path that may be.

    P.S I definitely still plan on following Cath in College!

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  5. Thank you for this, Cath. This post was much needed for plenty of anxious students, myself included. I had an upward trend in GPA due to a serious lack in motivation during my underclassmen years in high school, and despite a strong academic record junior and senior year, participation in ECs I felt passionate about, unique essays, etc., I guess colleges were not willing to look beyond my past mistakes and give me a chance. I ended up getting rejected at every college I applied to other than my safeties. It was extremely crushing. This post restores my hope that college truly is what you make of it. You seem to be having so much fun at Stanford, and of course the resources available to Stanford students are second to none, but I believe you are absolutely correct when you say that a fantastic college experience can be had anywhere and everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to, DR, I can promise you that. Don’t lose faith in yourself and your abilities– you can still have an incredible college experience no matter what school is lucky enough to have you 🙂 Sending my love.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey,
    I thought this post was awesome. While I used to have a dream school over the summer I was able to let it go and realized my college experience would be awesome anywhere. Ironically I ended up getting into my “dream school”. I hope to you next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s such a coincidence because for the past few days I’ve been wanting to tell you and thank you for the reason I’ve loved your blog so much. Since finding your blog I’ve been so content about the idea of not getting into my dream college of Stanford. Before hand Stanford was the be all end all, but after reading your post and letting it soak in, I’ll be happy with any school I get into.

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    1. A tester au plus en cas de grosse envie de gourmandise recette à garder sous le coude comme celle du cheesecake j&ssquo;esraie de faire ça au plus vite et de te faire un retour 😉

      Like

  8. Hi Cath,

    I’m from Student Housing, and recently discovered your blog/blog. This letter is amazing! May I share it via our department Facebook page?

    Thanks, Marie

    Like

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