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Stop beating yourself up if you’re not in your dream school

The new normal doesn’t put daily life on hold. Rather, it makes it harder by adding in extra steps to the possibility of death. We’ve all thought about this during quarantine. As for students, they probably think about this daily. 

Being a student at this time is weird. What more if you’re thinking about your future dream school in the middle of a global pandemic?

Now, I haven’t been a student since 2017. But the tweets flooding my feed regarding college entrance exams got me reeling. It brought me back to the days when my peers freaked out about it. Although we didn’t livetweet our experiences, the excitement and heartbreak over exam results remained the same (minus the constant fear of Miss ’Rona). 

Passing our dream school is a huge part of our adolescence. Obtaining a good moral certificate (whatever that is), paying for expensive review centers and panicking (if failing this would kill us) are just a few aspects of college entrance exams that make it stressful. That’s just part of growing up, I suppose. 

If it’s any consolation, let me tell you something I wish I knew sooner—it doesn’t matter in the end. 

Another part of growing up is knowing whether we get into our dream school or not. Although people are virtually vocal now about mental health, we still utilize social media to highlight our achievements. We still write 700-word essays when we graduate or celebrate an anniversary with our current partner. As for our shortcomings? They remain as Twitter drafts. 

It’s the same ordeal for young hopefuls who didn’t get into their dream school. If it’s any consolation, let me tell you something I wish I knew sooner—it doesn’t matter in the end. 

I wasn’t an Isko, a Lasallian, an Atenean or a Thomasian. I came from a micro art school that resembles “Community’s” Greendale College. I, too, compared my value on which college I got into. When I failed to get into the big four, I cried ’cause I thought they dictated my worth as a person. 

But when I got into the workforce, no one gave a damn about where I went to college. They cared about what I was capable of doing, the contents of my portfolio, where I interned, what my past experiences were and if I was pleasant to work with. All of this I learned mostly outside the confines of my college classrooms. 

A lot of college hopefuls have failed to get in their dream schools just like you. Although passing the exam is one thing, privilege is another factor we should consider. Getting into the big four is also a costly endeavor, even if we don’t like admitting it. These are circumstances we can’t control, like getting into the big four or being bad at basic arithmetic.

That’s what our guidance counselor failed to remind us. Whether we get in or not, it still boils down to drive, work ethic and, funny enough, dumb luck. 

“Anyone who talks about having a ‘dream’ school should remember that they just used the word ‘dream,’” said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton in his Teen Vogue interview. “It’s highly unlikely that your image of what the school is like has anything to do with what your experience is going to be like.” He also reminded college hopefuls that the building blocks of your dreams won’t exactly shape your reality. 

Whether we get in or not, it still boils down to drive, work ethic and, funny enough, dumb luck. 

TIME Magazine also weighed in on this issue in 2018. In an article, they reminded parents that they should tell their children that it doesn’t matter where they go to college. “This false paradigm affects high-achieving kids, for whom a rigid view of the path to success creates unnecessary anxiety, and low-achieving kids, many of whom conclude at a young age that they will never be successful, and adopt a ‘why try at all?’ attitude,” wrote William Stixrud. “Why do we encourage our children to embrace this delusional view of what it takes to be successful?”

Growing up, getting into any of the big four universities dictated success. Or at least, that’s what grown-ups tell everyone. But here’s the thing, this is your future. It’s still your successes and failures. You made that shit happen. Be proud or accept it as a learning curve

So if you got into your dream school, let me congratulate you. But don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t. Future you is doing just fine—trust them.

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Art by Rogin Losa


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