In episode four, season two of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Nini and E.J. have started to realize that transitions are not always smooth as they’d like. Throughout the episode they struggle with varying degrees of rejection, disappointment, and loneliness as they realize their dreams for the future may have just been shattered.
For poor sulky E.J., his confidence was shaken when he found out that he wasn’t accepted into his dream school, Duke – which happens to be his father and grandfather’s alma mater. What has intensified his misery so much here is that he was 100% sure he was getting in. It wasn’t even a possibility to him that he wouldn’t be accepted. And now that his dream school is no longer an option, he feels he has to start all over again, rewrite his vision of the future and start from scratch. It’s a lonely and scary place for EJ, to feel as though you’re in freefall, with no definite plans in place. On top of all that he feels shame for letting his family down, he feels like a failure.
E.J.’s story is paralleled with Nini’s struggle at the school she thought was her dream school – a school she’s worked so hard in the previous season to get into in the first place. She assumed
she would thrive there and become an even greater actor than she already is, but her dream school has ironically also begun to kill her dreams. She feels unacknowledged, unsupported, and alone. Like with E.J., Nini getting into her dream school was all she ever wanted (hence her song “All I Want”). She’s worked so hard and given acting her all, and yet now that she’s achieved her “dream” she feels lonelier than ever. What becomes apparent to Nini is that her friends and family are more important than her “dream” school, as she says to E.J. after he gets his unwelcome news, “sometimes dream schools are a little overrated.”