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Give Up Hope or Strive For My Dream School? The College Search

For all of my life, whenever I’ve thought of college, I’ve pictured myself at my dream school: Duke University. My dad went there, and we always have a Duke game on somewhere in the house. I guess when I was old enough to ponder where I might go someday, it was always the obvious answer.

Now that I’m older, college is more than just a distant idea. And I’ve been forced to contemplate the reality of my dream school. I’m a good student, an athlete, a sophomore class officer, and a lifelong diehard fan. But it’s hard to say whether all that will even be enough to get into my dream school. Duke is a good school and a hard one to get into, and I can’t help but visualize heartbreak upon not making the cut.

Getting into My Dream School

So now that college tours and big decisions are fast approaching, I’m faced with two ways to go about my love for my ideal school. Option one is that I accept the fact now, rather than be told later, that Duke is not where I’ll end up. Learn to open my eyes to new schools and possibly lighten my junior year schedule from terrifying to I-might-be-able-to- handle-this. This way I’m not setting myself up for a deep depression of ice cream half-gallons and Blue Devil mourning come senior year.

Option two is to use this dream as an advantage over all of my classmates; an extra push of motivation that I was practically born with to get me through even the longest of SAT study sessions. This sounds like a better option from the get go, right? I could base every high school decision off of that drive — the idea that the harder I push, the closer I am to that goal. I could take the most rigorous schedule, pack in 15 extra clubs, with the vision of Duke as my payoff. And even then, there could still be a less than perfect ending.

So I’m a bit conflicted about which route to take for the remainder of my high school career. I constantly find myself going back and forth on which path to take. But I’ve managed to cheat a bit. I’ve found a third path that gives and takes a little from both sides. I’ve realized, I’m not ready to give up on Duke as my dream school. And much as I’ve tried, and believe me I’ve tried, to set a more obtainable goal for myself, Duke is still my dream school. I can’t help but squeal when I picture myself getting accepted and calling it my home. But I have noted that it’s time to look around, and start loving other schools as well. Because wherever I go, Duke or otherwise, I’m going to be happy.

Rachel Baker is a junior in high school who writes about everything from the college search to learning to drive.

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