“College does not define who you are.”
“Where you go is not who you’ll really be.”
As doubtful as these phrases may sound to students striving to attend the most prestigious colleges, it really is worthwhile considering the extent of influence college has on our lives.
Distinguished graduate schools and well-paying jobs nowadays seem to prioritize academic background above all else. Applications, after all, do ask for education experience, and it serves companies well to have an employee alumni from reputable institutions such as Stanford. Forbes magazine, for example, simply omitted information about alma maters in profiles of nominees who hadn’t graduated from top schools.
According to Frank Bruni’s New York Times bestseller, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, students view schools with low acceptance rates as the top ones. Thus, the majority of applicants select from this minority, ultimately degrading the value of other, equally challenging and credible colleges and further decreasing the acceptance rates.
In truth, however, low acceptance rates is a scheme for increasing reputation. An overflowing amount of individuals are encouraged to apply, so these colleges are “forced” to reject more students. Thus, such declination is viewed as a positive, prestigious call of selectiveness.
37th U.S. President Richard Nixon, for example, received his bachelor’s from Whittier College in Southern California. 44th U.S. President Barack Obama obtained his from Columbia University. Columbia’s acceptance rate is 6% while Whittier’s is 61.9%. Regardless, both figures successfully became the leaders of a nation through talent more meaningful than college name.
Furthermore, Bruni speaks of an individual who was rejected from Princeton, attended a state college, became a wealthy, widely-renowned businessman, and was invited to give a presentation at Princeton ten or so years later. How ironic of a situation and yet, how grandiose of an accomplishment for the businessman? The school now recognized the man’s talents as worthy enough to teach its students; the “special” students who were selected out of the thousands. The man did not even attend an Ivy League and he was a figure that the university wanted.
“Our worth and future is not established by which schools say yes and which say no,” said Yoon. “I can’t believe I’m saying this since I myself find it hard to believe, but we each are more than a simple decision of the admissions officer(s).”
Harvard, one of America’s top schools, may be renowned for its medical and law programs, but Columbia College of Chicago, a less popular institution, is praised for its journalism/media studies. Finding your passions and the school that meets those interests is what properly shapes your identity.
Any school would be honored to admit your unique talents. So, confidently be yourself.
It is up to students to create an easier, less stressful future. It starts with the firm belief that where you go is not who you’ll be.