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March 26, 2024

Embracing the Unexpected: Getting Redirected, not Rejected from my Dream School

By Angelo A.
, 19
, from Northfield, MN

As college decisions roll out, the atmosphere is charged with anticipation, hope, and more than a touch of anxiety. It’s a time of eagerly checking emails, refreshing portals, and holding your breath while clicking through admission statuses. For many, it’s the culmination of years of hard work, aspirations, and dreams. But what happens when the decision isn’t what you wanted? 

As a freshman in college who didn’t get into my first choice, I’m here to tell you that sometimes, the best experiences come from unexpected paths.

Flashback to a year ago, and like countless other high school seniors, I was eagerly awaiting those decisive college responses. My dream college felt like home, the place where I envisioned myself growing, learning, and thriving for the next four years. I imagined I’d meet my closest friends there and have the best time of my life.

However, when the news came, disappointment weighed heavy, and uncertainty over where I’d end up instead clouded the future. But little did I know, this detour would lead me to a destination far more fulfilling than I could have imagined.

I found myself at a college that wasn’t even on my radar initially. It’s a good school, but at first it felt like nothing in comparison to my dream school. The campus was unfamiliar, the programs slightly different from what I had envisioned, but there was an undeniable energy in the air, a sense of community that drew me in from the start. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I felt a connection—a strong feeling of belonging that I hadn’t experienced elsewhere.

One of the most surprising discoveries was the wealth of opportunities that awaited me. My first-choice college was more specialized, and I would have followed a certain academic path. At my college, however, I found myself exploring subjects I’d never considered, joining all kinds of clubs, and forging friendships with people from all walks of life. The diversity of experiences opened my eyes to new passions and possibilities, broadening my horizons in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Beyond academics, the support network here has been nothing short of incredible. Maybe because it’s a smaller school, my professors go above and beyond to nurture my growth, and I’ve discovered a sense of camaraderie that transcends the classroom walls. Here, it’s not about competition; it’s about collaboration, helping each other to reach our goals.

Through this experience, I’ve learned that college is what you make of it. It’s not solely defined by the name on your diploma or the prestige of the institution but rather by the memories you create, the people you connect with, and the person you become along the way. While my journey may have taken an unexpected turn, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Maybe I would have had a great, or even better experience at my dream school, but it’s also possible that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I expected to. It’s taught me resilience in the face of adversity, adaptability in the midst of change, and the importance of embracing the unknown with an open mind and heart.

So, to all the high school seniors anxiously awaiting those college decisions, I want to offer a piece of advice: trust in the journey. If the decision doesn’t bear the news you were hoping for, remember that it’s not the end of the road but merely a new beginning. Embrace the opportunities that come your way, even if they lead you down a different path than you originally envisioned. Sometimes, the greatest joys in life are found in the most unexpected places.

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