Cartoon image of basketball player missing a free-throwI know, I know… it feels like the end of the world when you don’t get accepted to your top college. But I promise you will survive! What you may not realize right now is you will thrive somewhere else.

This topic makes me think of a book called The Alchemist. In this fable, the protagonist sets off on a hero’s journey to find his destiny. He travels to a different continent, crosses a desert, and nearly risks his life to find his true calling. Along the way he meets people who help him understand that the universe conspires to his success. As fate would have it, he found his destiny only after he returned home.

So, what’s the moral of the story? The universe truly does conspire to your success, and sometimes you need to be steered in the right direction. Sometimes we need to hear “no” to find our way to “yes.”

Plan B

Hopefully, you applied to several colleges and have other options to pursue. We recommend that students apply to their dream school, a safe school, and an affordable college that will allow you to live at home.

What’s the point of having so many options? Because you never know what lessons the universe has to teach you. If you are not accepted at your top college, take another look at your fallback school(s). Assuming you did your research, the college(s) should be affordable, offer your major, be the right size and in a city you enjoy.

Examine your list of colleges

Think about the schools you applied to and ask yourself why they made the list. Did you select one of your colleges because a friend applied there? Was it a college that your parents attended and thought would be a good fit for you? Was it an elite college that would impress family and friends? Did the college even offer your major?

If you are honest with yourself, the answers to the questions above may help you understand why you were not accepted to your top college. Perhaps it was never a good fit.

Happiness factor

Will you be happy at a college that is not your top choice? That’s entirely up to you! To quote Henry Ford, “whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.”

It’s time to set your ego aside and re-examine your list of colleges and priorities. Consider all the schools that accepted you for admission and compare them based on criteria that you find important. That might include academic rigor, school size, cost of tuition, and location. It may be helpful to visit those schools again to help discover your best fit.

Bottom line

If you are not accepted to your top college, it’s not the end of the world. There are literally thousands of colleges in the United States, and one of them is sure to be a good fit. Examine your options and reset your compass. You got this!