Then I realized it: the simple fact that I think I have a great shot at getting into places like Penn (and most other T14s if you'll allow me a bit of self-flattery) over a place like Berkeley has simply made Berkeley a more desirable destination. The whole "you want what you can't have deal."
Is this happening to anyone else?
I think all of us, except the very very select auto-admits at any school of their choice, fall into this mindset a little bit. I'm reading Vanity Fair
for a Victorian lit. class right now (it was on my mind when I registered, hence the name) and the whole book is about wanting what you can't have (the movie sort of misses this whole point). It's been a great read leading into the application process where I continually find myself grasping for what I can't have (or at least have a slim chance of getting
One reason why I find myself looking past my schools that I am much more competitive at is simply because it is more fun (and much more self gratifying) to tell people that you are applying to the Berkeley's of the world rather than, say a Washington and Lee or a William and Mary. I'm from the Mountain region and most people have no clue what is a great school outside of the top 10. Most people have never even heard of Washington and Lee or didn't even know that Minnesota had a great law school.