What to Do When You Can’t Attend Your First-Choice School

Work with a Trusted Education Counselor

An enrollment advisor with US university experience will be able to give you good advice on which schools are within your reach, based on what’s most important to you

Apply to Several Schools 

In the US, we have a saying: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Applying to five to 10 schools is normal for first-year students and increases your chances of being happy with your options.

Set Realistic Expectations 

You may have to accept that a “dream school” is a long shot. US education counselors know your first-choice university’s acceptance rates and what admissions teams are looking for in an “ideal student.”

Understand Why You Didn’t Get In

If you don’t quite match the ideal profile, this doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong, Ortega says. It’s more big picture criteria, rather than individual merit.

Required Courses or Grade

Admissions criteria for each school varies significantly, says Ortega. Talk with your counselor before you apply to understand the criteria and how you can supplement your application.

ESL and Other Test Score

“If your English language skills are not yet there or you need more confidence, keep practicing!” says Ortega. “Submerge yourself into the English language as much as possible.


Attending university in the USA is expensive. As an international student, you will have to prove your financial abilities on both your university and visa applications.

Embrace the Possibilitie

While you might be disappointed about not getting into your first-choice school, you do have options. This is where having a trusted advisor is important.

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