The educational aspirations of immigrants are often high, inspired by the hopes of newly gained opportunities available in the host country. This is also the case for students between 12 and 18 years old who have recently migrated to a new country (NAMS). However, they often perform below their non-immigrant peers and are overrepresented in vocational education. In Flanders (Belgium), the educational trajectory of NAMS starts in a separate programme that prepares them for their integration into regular education. This study aims to gain insight into how the interplay between pressures from the education system, the gatekeeping function of teachers and the agency of students and their parents unfolds. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted across two schools (2017–2019). The analysis shows how teachers in reception education try to align idealistic aspirations of NAMS with the options that the regular education system offers. We use Clark’s concept of “cooling out” as an analytical tool to describe the incremental process that takes place.