If you had asked me where I wanted to go to college when I was a senior in high school, I’d have told you my top choice was UConn. It was the dream college to me. I would have said I was born to be a Husky and Connecticut was where I belonged. It was all I ever wanted. I convinced myself that I would get to college, this college, and my life would instantly become everything it was supposed to be.

Dreams are a funny thing. You convince yourself it’s meant to be, and sometimes you focus on it so much you end up missing what’s right in front of you.

I applied to Hofstra University on a whim. An admission counselor had come to speak at my school and I attended the session. There ended up being only two students in the session, so I got a lot of one-on-one time. She told my friend and I all about Hofstra. At the end of it all I walked away knowing two things, they offered free parking and they were on the Common App. That’s why I applied, (not because of the free parking) but because they were on the Common App. I remember telling myself that it was just one more school and would take no extra effort, so why not, right?

I applied, then promptly forgot about it. After all I was too busy holding my breath until the letter arrived from Connecticut.

Eventually both letters came – the one from Connecticut was a rejection. And the one from New York was an acceptance.

Even when I got that acceptance letter, I wasn’t happy. I slapped a smile on my face, but I wasn’t excited. I was still mourning the loss of my dream school. Time went on and I eventually licked my wounds of disappointment. But I still couldn’t seem to change my perspective. It took some time to realize the truth about my dream college.

Dreams are beautiful. They keep us going at our lowest points. They help us overcome adversity, because they represent that light at the end of the tunnel. Even when you have nothing, you still have your dreams. There can be, however, a serious downside to dreaming. It’s the deadly side effect that no one really tells you about. The truth is, dreams can blind us. Specific dreams can be especially dangerous. They can block our vision and blind us to every other possibility that is out there. When you dream, you get this perfect picture in your head. And when suddenly when you realize it won’t come true, you have a hard time opening up your eyes to the other possibilities.

I can’t tell you why I chose Hofstra. Don’t ask me about my tour, because I don’t really remember much. What I do know is that I can recite all the facts and figures of my school now (perks of now being a Tour Guide). I know that even after I visited this school with a somewhat negative mindset, it was going to be my home. I was going to Hofstra. Everything ended up feeling right. I can’t explain it. There wasn’t a reason. It was just a feeling, and in that moment I knew my UConn dream was never meant to come true. In that moment, I knew that our dreams can change.

I let my dream college go that day and in return I got lifelong friends, countless stories, once in a lifetime opportunities and some of the best years of my life. I would not trade these past four years for anything. In my four years here the most important thing that I learned is – not all dreams are meant to come true, but that’s okay because as it turns out reality is so much better.

If you have your heart set on one college and it doesn’t work out, it’s OK. It’s OK to feel disappointed and let down. It’s OK to question your future and next steps. But you have to understand that dreams come in all shapes and sizes, and as cliche as it may sound, everything really does happen for a reason. You can find everything you ever wanted in different city or state and at a different school. You make the decision to be happy and dedicated to finding success, no one else. No letter in the mail changes that decision for you.

It’s not the dream college you want to fight for, it’s the dream college experience. And that’s something you get to choose for yourself every single day.

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