I saw this coming almost a mile away. Not because I expected failure from you, but because I saw the same symptoms I had when I applied to college. I figured you would have the same outcome, but I wished you didn't.
Now what I say next will probably seem insulting, even mocking, but it is what you will learn (most likely the hard way), and it will get you out of your slump. You will probably not listen to an ounce of this advice, but I urge you to read it to the last sentence. Maybe you will not have to go through what I did. If you really don't feel like having facts and direct comments thrown at you, I can understand if you stopped reading right now, but remember, this is also what I learned about myself, so I'm talking more about me than you. But if it rings true for you, maybe you should heed my advice.
You have an inferiority complex. You thought if you *just* got into that one special place, it would validate you and prove to not only everyone else, but to yourself, that you are something special. You always knew you were special, but without the validation, you have doubts. Now, that acceptance you always thought you were definitely going to get because you were special - even those times when you were nervous - is not there. It somehow slipped passed you.
I'm not saying you're arrogant. Everyone is special, and this was your special thing.
So now you're trying to make sense of it, trying to find a way to find a way to still validate yourself. And after thinking about it, you will suffer through and persevere amidst everything for four years, and get into your dream school for graduate education.
I'm telling you that you didn't learn the right lesson. You want to go to your school, the right school, via graduate school. Graduate school is the easiest thing to get into, much easier than undergrad. You don't need good grades or any of that nonsense. You just need money (or a source that isn't the school itself, unless you work for it), and they will accept you. The only thing the graduate admissions committees check is your pulse.
So let's put that aside for a moment. I guarantee you will go to your dream school, but if you learn anything in four years, you'd probably not care one bit.
You should talk to post-college people you know or will meet. Ask them, if they had to choose between a no-debt, lower-end salary as a start in life vs 10k more in pay and 100k in debt, would they put themselves in debt all over again? Retrospectively, the answer is so obvious, but they were caught in the passion like I was, and like you are now.
Personally, I went the expensive route. I could have gone to Rutgers or NYU and started life with no debt, but I didn't want High School Part 2. I wanted to get my mind off not going to my dream school. I didn't care if they were happy going to those schools, they weren't for me.
Debt is an awful thing. It's such a burden to have. Once you pay it off, you will swear never to go into it again, and wondered why you did in the first place when you had the choice not to (some people can't help it, but when you have a choice, you're stupid if you put yourself in that position). Your employer didn't care that you went to this lame school, and you would have had more money by now.
[B]No one but family and snobby friends care where you went to school.[/B] Sure, maybe some people like raising their noses and saying, "Oh yes, that Zuckerberg chap, we used to play pool in the Harvard yard, uh-huh uh-huh" but really, it doesn't get you in a better position later in life. I have two Harvard friends. They are not super heroes. One is very successful, and one is dumb as nails.
I don't know if I said this before, but I should have: college is college. 2+2=4, whether you learn that from a Harvard professor or a Howard professor is irrelevant. [B]College is what you make of it.[/B] If you keep yourself open-minded, enter college with a happy mindset, you will find a lot to love. In fact, the school itself will be insignificant to your experience. It will be the people there. The school can treat you like trash and overall, could suck, but if you have other cool friends and good times, it really doesn't matter.
I know the assault from family can be brutal, but in college, you will make some of the best friends you'll ever have, and they are more than enough to offset the unproductive and useless feedback of those who supposedly know best. Sure, they knew best [B]back in their day[/B], when they were your age, arguing with their parents, but now you know best, and they are the parents.
My school had many good and bad people in high positions. It sucked. Every time I registered for classes, administration would take me out, saying I have an F or some other made-up grade in the prerequisite. After I went to them, and they cleared up the "confusion" that made magical changes to my GPA, the seat was already taken. The third and last time this happened, I checked and found out the President's niece just enrolled. It didn't bother me, I just shared it with friends and we took sweet revenge in our own way. =D
[B]Probably the best advice I can give you[/B] is to work/volunteer at admissions when you go to college. It will open your eyes to the ludicrous system you were subject to. For a while, you will disassociate it from what happened to you, but sooner or later, you will come to that realization, that this is the f###ed up system that ruined your chances.
When you actually take one of the seats on the admissions committee (many schools reserve two for current students), do not be shocked and surprised. Learn and accept it.
[i]"Oh, look! We've got two Hispanics with 4.0 GPAs! Let's accept them both! It'll look good and they won't ruin our rankings!"
"No, Mary, HOLY $H!T no! RED F###iING FLAG! This one wants to become a rocket scientist. He's gonna take hard classes and screw us. The other one just wants to be a sweeper with a degree. He will take easy classes. We've got enough safeties - ambitious white people - that we don't need to take risks accepting an ambitious Hispanic one."[/i]
Of course, common stuff like this will be said in a more polite, politically correct, and formal way, but the meaning will be the same.
[B]The main thing I'm trying to say is to ENJOY YOUR NEXT FOUR YEARS and chase your dreams - your real ones - and don't worry about the little details.[/B] College is a big deal, of course, but which college is a little detail. My friend took a summer course in Harvard, and people were so impressed, but it was no big deal to him and he really didn't care that it was Harvard. He was in Boston at the time and it was what he wanted (something about biostatistics if you are wondering).
If your dream is to go to a particular college, you gotta get better dreams. Cure cancer, become pro boxer, volunteer abroad, those are fun dreams, and are more fulfilling than anything Harvard or Yale can offer.
Make the most of your debt-free rollercoaster. It's going to be fun. Don't hole yourself in depression, because there are guys who will take advantage of that (and I mean that with all connotations). You're gonna love it if you let yourself, and when you come out of it, the job or grad school you go to will not matter because you have no debt to pay off and can continue to enjoy yourself. The hard part is always transitioning out of college.
I hope this made sense. I didn't proofread it. Just wrote my thoughts as they came.