The Myth of the Perfect College
One of the most common high school rumors is the myth that there is only one perfect school for each student. So it is not uncommon for students to feel as though their life is ruined if they don’t get into their first-choice college or university. Or, worse, they get into their favorite school but can’t afford to enroll. This can taint their experience at the school they ultimately attend.
So don't worry, there are many places that are right for you! You can get a great quality education at thousands of colleges. The elite colleges graduate more PhDs in a year than they hire as faculty. All of those PhDs have to go somewhere else to teach.
If you insist that only your top pick will make you happy, you’re selling yourself short. According to the American Freshman surveys by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 58.9% of freshmen in 2015 enrolled at their first choice, followed by 25.7% at their second choice and 9.5% at their third choice. So more than 94% of college freshmen are at their first, second or third picks.
Incidentally, 13% of freshmen said they did not enroll at their top school because they couldn’t afford the cost. So even if you get into your favorite institution, there’s nearly a one-in-five chance that you’ll have to enroll at a less expensive school.
Given that most students end up at one of their top three choices, perhaps you should try a pick-three approach instead of insisting that there is only one for you. You are more likely to get into one of those three. You will be much happier if you focus on the pick-three approach.