October 14, 2019 By Harlan Cohen

5 Reasons You Need to Have 5 Dream Schools

Have one BIG dream school on your mind?  Think again. I suggest having at least five dream schools.  Why five?  Make two your reach schools.  Two can be within reach.  And one can be a dream school you can attend no matter what.  Still want to stick with one dream school?

Here are five reasons you need to have five dream schools:

1. You are the maker of your dreams.

 A school is not responsible for making your dreams come true. You are more than 51% of your success story.  Too many students think a college will be the defining factor of your success.  It’s not true.  Frank Bruni’s book, “Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be” points out that success beyond college isn’t determined by a degree. It’s the degree that a student works to be successful.  Having more than one dream school forces you to identify what you want, why you want it, and the places you can get it.  It also means you can decide to leave if the dream doesn’t meet your expectations.

I got into my dream school. I just couldn’t find my niche. I joined marching band, a dance club (I did not dance), I worked a part-time job, I did on- and off-stage theater work, and joined a sorority. I couldn’t find a place where I felt like I belonged. I transferred to a much larger school and never look back! – Nicole Heasley

2. It can be hard to get in… almost impossible.

Chances are your dream school is also a dream for many other students.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Stanford University’s acceptance rate was 4.7 percent and Harvard was 5.2 percent, and University of Pennsylvania was 9.3 percent.  When students get in and get to campus, getting involved and getting the grades you want can be a new challenge. Not everyone can get A’s.  Having several dream schools gives you access to more options and more opportunities to live out your dreams in an environment that fits your personality and learning style.

3. It can be SCARY CRAZY WILDLY expensive.

When you invest all your hopes and dreams in one school and believe one school will be the defining factor in your life, it can be hard to say NO if you get in.  This can mean spending money you don’t have and possibly paying for your dream school for the next 30 years.  If you know what you want to get out of your college experience, you can find it multiple places.  This will help you better access the return on your investment.   It’s worth applying and seeing what type of scholarships and financial aid are available to you, but it’s important to have options when evaluating a best fit for you.

I got into my dream school, but I didn’t choose it because of the cost. This was the best decision I’ve made thus far. I’ve made great friends and have a load of opportunities for the future. I’ve gotten to meet many fortune 500 company people as well as many major law firms work directly with the school.  –  Kaden Jakeb Alexander

4. It’s too easy to focus on being WANTED.

Life is less about being wanted and more about figuring out what you want.  This is a common problem with dream schools.  The game is to do everything to get in.  Sometimes that can mean shaping yourself to fit someone else’s mold.  Students can be so focused on being wanted that they miss out on figuring out what they want.  Here’s the wildest part.  Grads from top schools can be wanted by employers for years to come.  It can take decades for them to come to the realization they don’t know how to answer the question, “What do I want?” because they’ve always been wanted.

I got rejected from my dream school.  So I went somewhere to my backup school for a year and transferred to my dream school. Sometimes I think I should have stayed put I had tunnel vision at the time. I was so focused on where I thought I should be that I didn’t realize what a good fit my backup school was for me.  – Lisa Kaplan

5. Dream schools have WAY too much to live up to.

You know the expression, “NEVER meet your heroes.” It’s true. Few dream schools can live up to the hype and expectations students create. Most likely, this school has been put on a pedestal.  There’s no room for discomfort because discomfort is never part of the dream.  And yes, college can be uncomfortable at times.  It’s normal. There’s nothing more disappointing than being sad and alone on a dream campus while wearing licensed clothes and head-to-toe college colors.  Instead of depending on a school to give you an experience, make sure you know what you want, the places on campus where you find them, and the type of people you want to meet.

You are the maker of your dreams. A school just gives you the tools to create it.  Having multiple dream schools is the best way to set yourself up for success.