You are not alone in this, as it is a pretty common worry of high schoolers. If you are studying as best you can, partaking in sports, theater, clubs, etc., and you are working hard on your college applications, know you are doing the best you can. Everything happens for a reason, and if you do not get into your “dream” school, chances are you will likely end up having a great time at the school you end up going to!
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Do not sweat this! While it will feel awful in the moment, remember great things are coming. I had a friend who had her heart set on one school, and she did not get in. She ended up going somewhere else and she LOVED her school. She always said how she could not imagine going to school anywhere else! A lot of people have not gotten into their dream schools, and they went to a different school and ended up loving it! When you start at your college, go in with a new mind and do not wish you were at your dream school. Make an effort to meet new people, get to know your professors and identify the things you love about your school.
When you start to get to junior or senior year of high school, it may seem like all you hear about is college; applications, getting accepted, getting denied, etc. Make an effort to bring up other topics with your friends when you are at lunch, hanging out after school, etc. If it really gets to be too much, it is fair for you to say to a friend something like, “hey, I just want to have fun right now and not think about college as sometimes it stresses me out, so is there any chance we can not bring up the topic this afternoon?” Chances are, your friend might feel the same way, but it can be hard to talk about something else.
If you do not go to college, do you have another plan? Chances are, you might feel forced to go to college because that is what everyone else does. If you know there is something you want to do after high school that does not require a college degree, have a conversation with them about what it is you want to do and why you do not need college. They might not be receptive at first, but give them time. If they end up not being accepting, see if it is possible to take a gap year, defer your acceptance to a school by one year or take classes part time at a local community college. College is a big investment, so really try to have an open conversation with your parents if it does not feel like the right next step for you.
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