Narrow Focus of Dream Schools Could be Damaging

Sophia Steddin

When one begins thinking about college, they might find a school that appears to offer everything they could ever want. Usually, the student will consider this desired school to be capable of giving them the perfect education and experience, and contribute to landing them in their ideal career. This dream school is likely to have strong pull factors for the student, such as having an ideal location, climate, sports, setting, nightlife as well as other attractive aspects. 

Jordan Hovey, a Novato High senior, described her feelings relating to her dream school, UCLA. 

“UCLA has been my dream school since middle school. It has everything I want in a college, a large student body, the location, the amazing academics, the sports,” she said. “What really makes it my dream school is because I honestly feel at home when I’m there. UCLA was where my dad went.” 

For Hovey, her dream school has sentimental meaning and appears to offer some of the things she is most passionate about. 

NHS senior Corey Denton gave some insight into his experience with finding a dream school. 

“I’ve been touring colleges since sixth grade as I was dragged along all my older brothers’ campus tours. When it was finally my turn to tour colleges on my own, I absolutely fell in love with UCSB. The proximity to oceans, beaches, and mountains was a steal. The whole vibe of a community of students who believe in balancing wellness with academics was perfect for me,” Denton said. 

For Denton, the environment seemed to be a crucial factor in addition to the community aspect. 

While there is assurance in knowing exactly where you want to go to college, there is also the possibility of extreme anxiety forming around the topic of being accepted. 

In a society where perfection and striving for more is emphasized so deeply, it makes sense that so many believe they have found a dream school. Many kids are urged to do this, but the negative toll it can take on mental health is rarely acknowledged. 

NHS teacher, Michael Taber talked about his experience with having a dream school in high school and what it was like to attend the school. 

“St. Mary’s was my dream school because of their crew team and the beautiful campus, but when I eventually attended after graduate school, I hated it and dropped out after only a year.” Taber said. “Doing well in high school and getting into your dream school is only one path out of a hundred.”

Ultimately, the reality of the situation is that people can adapt and change to enjoy many different schools. Often times, when we fantasize about anything at all, we create an idea that is likely much more glamorous than it actually is, as Taber exemplifies. 

Feeling as if certain circumstances in life are inflexible can cause a great deal of stress. While one option may seem the most appealing, there are endless options that will offer a variety of beneficial new experiences. Zeroing in on only one school can limit a person’s ability to search beyond their comfort zone.