Ignore your college counselor: dream schools boost motivation, success


Graphic by Jolie Gefen ’24

Although highly discouraged, having a dream school provides students with a way to become more motivated and successful throughout high school.

If there’s one thing that all of us Staples students have in common, it’s the hope to get into college. But for some, that hope has manifested itself into a specific dream– a dream that has kept them motivated through every worksheet, schoology submission and early morning. While the idea of a dream school is every college counselor’s worst nightmare, it has major upsides that must be recognized.

Although it may be true that having one’s heart set on one specific college creates extra pressure surrounding success in high school, it can also greatly increase a student’s motivation and persistence in a school year. Contrary to popular belief, a student who has a dream school will actually help them stay focused and on top of their work, as they have a distinct goal in mind. 



A dream school should be used as a way to increase motivation and heighten success, and should not serve as the sole, final after high school for a student. 

— Jolie Gefen '24

Students with a dream school push themselves to work hard and to stay on track even when they may doubt themselves or give up. This is because they have a specific goal that they wish to achieve in the future. According to Frontiers in Psychology, it has been proven repeatedly by over 1,000 studies that when compared to imprecise or simple goals, setting high and specific goals has increased task performance, persistence and motivation. 

Search up “dream school” on Google and you will see words like “unreasonable”, “nightmare” and “unrealistic”. While I understand the danger of having a dream school and how it may negatively impact a Staples student who already deals with stress and pressure, for many students, a dream school may be their missing puzzle piece to achieve success. I acknowledge that this may indeed be unreasonable for some students and simply provide them with additional stress, but I strongly believe that many would truly benefit from having a goal, like a dream school, in high school. 

The final contributing factor as to why a student should consider having a dream school is how successful they will feel if they get it. It could be argued that this places too much pressure on a student to get in, but with a dream school comes responsibility in regulating how much to depend on the school. A dream school should be used as a way to increase motivation and heighten success, and should not serve as the sole, final after high school for a student.

A dream school does not have to be an idea that everyone agrees with, but it should not be an idea that is ignored. I encourage students who struggle with motivation and who see no end of high school in sight to consider having a dream school, so they too can succeed and be in the best position to thrive after high school.