How to accept settling for a school?

I committed to Northeastern University. I worked very hard my entire life academically and outside of academics. I applied to an array of amazing schools and the best ones I got into were Northeastern, UC Berkley, and Georgia Tech. While that may seem amazing, I applied to all of the ivies and schools like Stanford, Emory, NYU, MIT, etc. My grades, activities, and overall whole application are up there with the other applicants and accepted students. With my friends going to schools like Duke, Cornell, Boston College, and someone in my grade going to Princeton I just feel so dumb and like all of my hard work summed up to nothing. How can I make myself start to feel better?

Forget about all the other colleges and celebrate your matriculation to Northeastern. Just forget about them. NEU is a great school and that’s all you need to be concentrating on now.


Northeastern, UC Berkley, and Georgia Tech ? That’s amazing! Sit back and congratulate yourself.


I’m sure there are lots of people you love, admire, and respect who didnt go to the Ivies.

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You were accepted into three of the very best colleges in the USA. That should be enough for anybody.

You will be attending a top college, which rejected more than 4/5 of the students who applied. That seems to be a win.


If it still bugs you in August, turn the negative into a positive. Commit to getting straight As and apply as a transfer student to a number of colleges you prefer over Northeastern.

One of my daughter’s was furious she wasn’t accepted to a few colleges on her list. She put a chip on her shoulder to study really hard first semester freshman year and earned a stellar GPA and a few other credentials. She filled out some applications and was accepted to her top two choices. She was over the moon! Then, the big decision was a wonderful one - which one to transfer to. She is so happy she did.

Consider this round one. It isn’t over yet.


Northeastern is a great university. Their coop program will be very helpful to you in the long run, and will help you gain both valuable experience and contacts.

A few years ago I wrote down a list of the smartest and most accomplished people I had ever met in my life. One thing that surprised me was that there were no two people who had attended the same university for their bachelor’s. Very smart and very successful people attend a very wide range of universities for a wide range of reasons.

The hard work that you have done up to now will make you far better prepared to do well at Northeastern.

When I went to graduate school I was turned down by my “dream school”, and attended my second choice. I LOVED it and did well there. My guess is that you will also do very well at Northeastern. In retrospect I realize that the school that I got into was a better fit for me. I had not realized this before attending but it looked like admissions at both schools did realize it. You might very well find the same thing.

I think that you will get the same excellent education at Northeastern that you would get at any of the top schools that you mentioned. However, the coop program will give you an edge. I think that this is a very good choice.


Well, the way to get over it is to think like an adult, not a high schooler.

A high schooler cares most about peer comparisons and desirability (if he/she/it is hard to get, they MUST be worth it!) Honestly, it’s an immature way to think.

An adult cares most about how a school can best help them reach their goals and works to reach his/her goals, not to impress people (or colleges). Your work in HS should have been to prepare you for reaching your goals in college and life, not to get you in to some college.

BTW, most adults would say BC isn’t at the same level as Cal or GTech while Cornell in many respects is more similar to Cal/GTech/NEU than to smaller privates (they’re all relatively large research unis with many large anonymous lecture classes; Duke would have those too).

I know that in the field I am most familiar with (CS), Cal, GTech, NEU, Cornell, Duke and Princeton CS grads all do well while BC isn’t at the same level. For that matter, neither are Emory or NYU.


One more thing I would add: Given that you have some fine options, your success in life will be dependent on you, your character, and what you do. Not on which of these colleges you went to. You have no way of knowing this (and it’s common at your age to lack confidence), but unless you’re low SES/first gen/URM, or disadvantaged in some way, studies have shown that it makes zero difference in life outcomes whether you attended the top tier of schools or some other good college instead.

Actually, 2 things: American college admissions is not a meritocracy. Once you understand that, you’d realize that basing your self-worth on which colleges admitted you is akin to basing your self-worth on whether various picky and eccentric guys ask you out on dates or not. You easily could have been rejected by NEU, Cal, and GTech and gotten in to NYU, Emory, and BC (my guess is that in that scenario, you would be pining for NEU, Cal, and Gtech).


Hi OP! I’m wondering why you chose to commit to Northeastern. I’m not familiar with the school and I’d like you to take a moment to “sell” it to me. Thank you!

I HIGHLY recommend reading “Who Gets in and Why.” It actually covers a student who applied to many super selective colleges but ended up the same place you did, Northeastern, and how she was ultimately ecstatic with her school by the end of her first year. It also demonstrates, through insight into the conversations of admissions committees of 3 selective schools, how subjective the admissions process is. Congrats on your acceptance to 3 wonderful universities.


They’re teenagers, how can they think like an adult, that doesn’t typically happen till early 20’s. A lot of research was done on why the “don’t drink and drive” or “abuse drugs” programs didn’t work. Teenage DUI and drug use actually went up a little. Main reason was because the people running those programs thought teenagers thought like adults, which they didn’t. Ex - if you tell a teenager that only one kid out of a 100 will get into a college, teenagers think they’ll be the one. What next, telling them don’t be influenced by peers? Another good one.

I believe that people have volition.

They can choose certain mindsets. And sure, there are behaviors and thinking that comes naturally at that age (and much that comes unnaturally), so I’m not saying that it’s easy, but ultimately, people have to ask themselves: do you want to be fulfilled? Because there are paths that lead to more fulfillment and paths that lead to less.

Hi! Honestly, the financial aid was the biggest draw. GT and Berkeley both were asking for 30k+ a year since Northeastern is need-based the financial package was much lower than any of the other schools I got into.

Recently I have been feeling like a complete failure academically. I have always worked very hard and done very well academically. Especially in high school, I took the hardest classes and kept up, while also doing many activities outside of school. All of this in hopes of my hard work paying off, hoping that I’d get into a top college. I got mass rejected from every Ivy and pretty much every top school that I applied to and I’m still taking it hard. I feel as if my hard work summed up to nothing. I am so proud of my friends around me, but it’s so hard watching them do SO much better when we pretty much did it all together.

PLEASE DO NOT FEEL THIS WAY. You should be terrifically proud of your acomplishments!

It’s been decades (gasp!) since I’ve been to undergrad and grad school, but I have a daughter shortly getting ready to go though this absolute mess called US college admissions. After studying this carefully, participating a bit in CC, getting advice from friends and educators, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that you should go where you are happy, and LOVE THE SCHOOL THAT LOVES YOU.

Absolutely no one will care where you went! Go to the school you are going to, have a blast, and get a great education. That’s the only thing that matters…brand names are that: brand names. Life is what you make it.


I remember your other post. You got into Berkeley, GT and are going to Northeastern, correct???

What’s your intended major? If it’s engineering or CS, the schools you were accepted to are better than most of the Ivies you listed.

I’m so sorry that you are still struggling but you HAVE gotten into top schools! The Ivies don’t have a monopoly on great academics.

Kick some serious butt at Northeastern. Rock your co-op and I would bet $ that you’ll have a better career outcome than some of your friends that are going to the schools you are envying.


OP, you did EXTREMELY well! UC Berkeley and Georgia Tech are the ones YOU rejected? Most folks I know would have been DELIGHTED to get into just one of these.

If Ivy League is all you care about, don’t! Northeastern is a fine school, and the schools you got into are comparable to the ones your friends got into.

I am sorry you are feeling this way. In some ways, this is the danger of spending high school working hard and doing EC’s so that you can “get in.” Believe me some of the kids who do get in to their “dream school” (a term that is problematic) also feel empty because now that they have “gotten in” they have to figure out the next external motivator to keep them working.

If you worked hard, you learned a lot, and the academic skills and interests you have built will enhance your college experience- and possibly career and life.

It is too bad that college admissions has turned into such a rat race and that the results have such an impact. I do not mean to deny your feelings, believe me. It is hard to step outside and see what is happening.

Good luck where you are going. You are every bit as valuable as any of the friends you are citing.


When you get to Northeastern, are you going to look around you and regard all of your peers there as failures? If you wouldn’t judge them that way, why turn that kind of negativity on yourself?

Northeastern does certainly have a sub-population of students who don’t really want to be there and are using it as stepping stone to someplace they consider “better.” In addition to those who are starting from scratch with the transfer process, it’s also a popular destination for students with guaranteed transfer offers from schools like Cornell. If you want to subscribe to the mindset of being a short-timer, you won’t be alone. But I’m not sure that’s the best path to happiness and success.

I’d suggest trying to step away from your high school frame of reference, and recognize that you have a coveted spot in a very desirable program. Commit to giving it a chance for at least the full first year before you start questioning where the grass might be greener. Make friends who are excited to be at Northeastern and let their enthusiasm be contagious. After all, the ideas that are making you feel bad right now came from other people too. My kids had friends who ended up hating their “dream schools” and others who went to “safety schools” (which Northeastern is not) and loved them. The high school “arms race” is over now, and everyone has “roads not taken” to let go of - time to get on with that process.