Like clockwork, late March has arrived and with it comes a flurry of college acceptance decisions from schools across the country. As is the same every year, universities are touting their biggest and most talented application pool to date and are highlighting the achievements of all of the students they have admitted. They have taken to social media to share pictures and videos of students all over the country opening envelopes containing the good news.

Yet, somehow in the middle of all of that joy, is an awful lot of sad news. Students, who months ago put themselves out there to be considered for admission, receive notifications that they were not among the chosen handful. There is no question that this news hurts. It never feels good to put yourself out there, wait for months for an answer, only to have it come back with a “thanks, but no thanks.”

The college counselors at Fairmont Prep are understanding of this, and they do give students time to grieve about it.

But only 24 hours. Why?

Because it isn’t worth playing that “what if?” game. Sure, it’s sad that that one college has passed on you. But if you have listened to the advice of your counselor, you probably already have other options. Options for real legitimate offers of admission to a school that sees and understands your value and wants you to be part of their community. These are the places that you should be excited about. Once you start to dig into these other colleges and see the opportunities there, you may be surprised.

The college counselors have countless stories about students who ended up at schools that were not their first choice and, after a year there, could not see themselves anywhere else. The connections they have made, the resources that are available, and the doors that have opened have transformed their experience and have helped them move past those “what if?” moments.

You owe it to yourself to make the most of the opportunities presented to you. You may surprise yourself in the long-run. That school will shape who you are and what you become. Don’t be afraid to let it do so. There is no point in longing for a college that isn’t going to be an option. It doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch either. Really look at the outcomes of those other schools. See what that community is like. Go and visit with an open mind as a potential home for four years.

You will be surprised at how quickly you forget the “what ifs?”.