There’s this dream I have where I’ve gone back to school to sit an exam, but I haven’t revised for it.
If you’ve ever had a similar dream, trust me, you’re not alone. Going back to school dreams rank in the top five highest of our most common dreams.
The top five most common dreams are:
Now, we can understand, to some degree at least, why we dream about being chased or falling. On the other hand, why do we dream about going back to school? The majority of us haven’t set foot in a school for decades. Not only that but do school dreams reveal anything about us in real life? Let’s first explore the meaning of dreams where we’ve gone back to school.
What do dreams about going back to school mean?
There are many theories as to the meaning of school dreams. However, the one constant theme of all school dreams throughout is that they are unpleasant.
In studies, the majority of participants did not enjoy the experience of dreaming of being back in school. In fact, as well as describing the dream as unpleasant, many people went on to express an overwhelming feeling of panic or anxiety during the dream.
As for the actual content of the school dreams, most of these dreams seem to revolve around two particular themes:
- Getting lost in school – Not being able to find the right classroom and getting lost
- Taking an exam – Revising for the wrong exam or missing classes and failing
Both of these subjects resonate with my going back to school dream. In my dream, I am wandering around my old school, searching for the exam hall. I know I am late and I haven’t revised. But I have to retake this exam. I finally find the right classroom and walk in. Everyone is watching me. I start the exam and I realize I know nothing. Then I write my name on the front of the exam paper and panic starts to rise up. The whole thing is a complete failure.
So what can dreams of being lost in school or taking an exam in school reveal about us?
1. Lost in school
The majority of ‘getting lost’ dreams indicate something is missing or lost in real life. You have lost your way somehow and you may need to refocus your attention.
If you cannot find a classroom in your dream, there is a possibility that you are not meeting your goals. The classroom symbolizes your goal and you are striving to get there.
For anyone who is racing to sit an exam and cannot find their classroom in time, this could be a sign that you need to work in a different way to achieve your goals. You might need to change direction or work in a smarter way.
Arriving late at the classroom symbolizes a loss of control over some area of your life. This could be work, home or a relationship. Look closely at the areas in which you feel most pressured. Put together a plan to use your time more effectively.
Missing a class or an exam is another sign of a missed opportunity in life. For instance, did you pass up on a job offer that you are now having second thoughts about? Was there a chance of a new relationship but at the time you didn’t feel ready? Your dream is a sign that you should take the plunge!
Is the reason you’re running around a school with no idea of where you are going because you’ve lost your timetable? This is a clear sign that something is distracting you and stopping you from achieving your potential.
2. Taking an exam
The main theme of this dream, especially if you failed the exam, is that you are experiencing anxiety or stress in real life. Remember, the exam is your mind’s way of red-flagging a stress or worry in your life.
Professor Michael Schredl heads up a sleep laboratory in Mannheim, Germany. He agrees that dreams about exams are the brain’s way of nudging us about stresses in the real world:
“The examination dreams are triggered by current life situations that have similar emotional qualities,” – Michael Schredl
- The best way to move forward is to look at all aspects of your life and find the one area where you feel anxious or worried.
- For instance, if you run out of time before you can finish the exam, this is an indication you’re under pressure in real life.
- If you turn up to the exam and you haven’t revised, consider whether you have a situation at work where you don’t feel prepared.
- Or, if you’ve studied the wrong subject for your exam, this could be a sign that you’re subconsciously worried that you are not being accepted. This could be within a significant relationship.
- Likewise, perhaps you’re worried that in some people’s eyes you don’t measure up?
- Make the necessary changes in your life to deal with these self-esteem issues and you should start to notice a change in your school dreams.
When you think about it, it’s not surprising we dream about going back to school so often. We all went to school so it’s inevitable that we’ll all dream about it at some point. Furthermore, we spent the most important times of our lives at school. We formed our identities, gained valuable social skills, and learned significant life lessons.
Nonetheless, it is a fact that the majority of us not have stepped inside a school for a very long time. But one important thing is that going back to school dreams can tell us so much about our lives as adults.