Aug 07

Overcome Your Fear of Not Getting Into Your Dream School


Dreams and ambitions are behind some of the most iconic historical events. They are what drive us towards our purpose and success. As a young adult, having a dream college and working hard to achieve it is admirable and there is so much riding on this aspiration that the fear of never achieving it can be too much to take.  It’s okay! Fear is a natural response when the stakes are high, and the outcome is unknown, but you shouldn’t let that same fear get you down. I know it’s a hard ask, so here’s some advice on how to beat down the fear of not getting into your dream school:

1. How to get into your dream college

One way to overcome your doubts over whether you will get accepted is to make sure your application is on point! Follow these tips to substantially increase your college application’s chances of success:


  • Have A Good Academic Profile


Your high school GPA, the strength of the high school curriculum, and admissions test scores are what matters most for admissions. Take Advanced Placement (AP) classes and tests to  earn college credit and improve your chances of getting in.


  • Be A Well-Rounded Student


No, I don’t mean physically. In addition to academics, admissions officers want to see that you are proactive, creative, have a strong work ethic, leadership skills, and compassion. Get involved with extracurriculars that specifically exhibit these and other unique qualities about you.


  • Be Careful With Your Social Media 


Admissions officers do check the social media presence of applicants for red flags and to learn more about them. Delete inappropriate posts and use a professional email address based on your name.


  • Get Great Recommendations


Ask teachers and authority figures from your extracurriculars to write your recommendations. Ensure that the people you are asking know you well. Remember to provide them with a copy of your accomplishments resume so that they can include it in their recommendation.


  • Write A Great College Essay


While at high school, try to participate in as many essay competitions or creative writing activities as possible. These provide amazing practice for admissions essays as they will help you create an original and interesting story that focuses on you. If you still feel nervous about your essay, get some help from a professional.


  • Proof Read Your Applications


Make sure there are NO errors on your applications as it will give the impression that you are sloppy, hasty, or lazy. Also, don’t just rely on software tools to pick up mistakes (they sometimes don’t rEcoGnIze certain things). Ask your teachers, friends, and family to read through your essay for feedback and corrections.


  • Show That  You Are Interested


Proactively show that you are interested in your chosen college by planning a campus visit, a tour, or interview with the admissions staff, current students, alumni, and professors in your expected major. Having this knowledge while writing your essay or during your interview is vital as it will show admissions officers how dedicated and passionate you are about attending their school.


2. Keep Your Options Open


Applying to your dream college may be your priority but you never know what’s around the corner. Take the COVID-19 pandemic for example, when you were doing your thing in January, did you think that your life would change so dramatically in just a few months? That’s why you must prepare for the unknown when it comes to college. The best way to do that is to have a few options under your belt. 


Wait! Don’t just apply anywhere. The ones you choose should be able to fit into some version of what you want for your future. Follow these steps when finding alternates to your dream college: 


  • List all the aspects of your dream college that excite or attract you. Then try to find as many colleges as you can that have some (if not all) of these features. (Be a little flexible in your criteria so that you don’t restrict your search too much). You can find this information by
  • Then rank the alternates according to how closely related they are to your perfect school and apply accordingly. 
  • If you have too many options, limit the number you found to the top 10 according to your rankings. Of these 10 options, 2-3 should be safety schools, 3-4 should be target schools and 2-3 should be reach schools. What’s the difference?
    • Reach schools are any schools where you have less than a 20% chance of getting in. In other words, it’s where the average students profile is better than yours in some way.
    • Target schools are schools at which you have between a 20% and 80% chance of admission. This is a school where your application is similar to the average student admitted.  
    • Safety schools are schools where you have an 80%-100% chance of admission. This doesn’t mean that the school’s acceptance rate is high but that your specific scores, GPA, and extracurriculars are considered to be their ideal applicants. You can use PrepScholar tools to:
      • enter your SAT® score here, to get a list of safety schools 
      • Google “(name of school) prepscholar admissions requirements” and use the admissions calculator on a school’s profile to get a rough idea of your chances of admission.

3. Conquer your fears while you play the waiting game

Now that your applications are sent or on the verge of being sent; doubts and insecurities about your acceptance may begin to weaken your confidence. Such fears are rooted in the inability to control what happens and as a result, it can take a massive emotional toll on you. Keep these things in mind:

  • Embrace your Fears

Fear is merely your mind tricking your confidence. It is your subconscious attempt to protect you against any imagined outcomes when it comes to your college applications. When these negative thoughts come up take a deep breath, think about each thought separately, and look at it realistically. Then apply anyway! Yes, there are a lot of possible outcomes but by facing your fear and taking action any way you will build confidence in yourself! If you don’t take a leap of faith when afraid, the opportunity will pass you by.

  • Be Positive

Use a positive emotion (like happiness or gratitude) and positive physical sensations (like a rush of warmth or a tingle of delight) to replace the negative ones when experiencing fears about not getting into college. Just as the emotion of fear can physically and psychologically paralyze you, positive emotions can motivate and calm you. Also, remember to replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. For example, if you think you won’t get into college because “you aren’t good enough” remember everything else you had to overcome and visualize receiving that acceptance letter.

  • Celebrate your successes

You have accomplished a lot so far and should be proud of yourself. You wouldn’t be who you are today without overcoming those hurdles, which have made you stronger and wiser. Even if you get a rejection from your preferred college, it does not affect your worth. Besides, you have quite a few applications, so a rejection from one means very little because you have other options.

  • See Rejection as an Opportunity

Think of the possibility of being rejected as an opportunity to try something new. You may even end up in a school that’s perfect for you in ways that you didn’t initially think of. This way, your fears of not getting into your dream school will be squashed by the hope of finding your perfect school.


4. The Last Word



The college application process is not one-sided; they are just as interested in you as you are in them and if your fears about not getting into your dream school come true, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You are stronger and more adaptable than you think. So go forth and prosper, your future is bright, regardless of the school you go to!


If you need any additional college assistance and feel you would benefit from some one-on-one time, contact our College Admissions experts


Good luck and stay safe!


SAT® is a trademark owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse Tokyo Academics.

Join the best summer school program in Japan! Our 2024 Summer Classes are specially designed to help students excel in the fall. Explore over 200 classes tailored for grades 3-12 and make your summer count.

Enroll today and transform your academic journey!