Does the Selectiveness of the College You Attend Determine Your Success?
February 25, 2018
Many students work extremely hard in school in order to get high test scores and get into the most competitive universities in the country. Others spend long hours researching schools to find the environment that is best for them, regardless of the selectiveness of the school. Most students consider a combination of these two mindsets, but is either aspect of the college decision process more likely to determine a student’s success?
A Student Will Be Most Successful in the Environment that is Best for Them
Less than one percent of college bound students attend one of the elite Ivy leagues. Does that make the other 99% any less capable of success?
It is my junior year of high school and I am looking at colleges I may be interested in applying to during the summer. I have always known there are two schools that I will definitely apply to: the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and the University of Wisconsin Madison. Quite frequently when I tell people this, a sudden look of shock appears on their face. They are compelled to ask me why I don’t want to apply to a “better” college.
I am well aware that they mean I am capable of attending a more selective private college rather than an easy-to-get-into public state university, but sometimes I cannot help but feel insulted. By saying this, they are indirectly telling me that if I attend the school that I think is best for me, I will never be able to compete with my peers that will attend better schools. I have no doubt that my peers who attend post-secondary schools that accept less than 30 percent of its applicants, such as the Ivy Leagues, are intelligent. My point is that just because someone chooses to apply to less prestigious and non-brand name institution, they aren’t any less academically gifted. There are so many factors that should be considered when choosing the college that is right for you besides a college’s reputation in the college application process.
Many students may choose to apply to a state school because of the size of its campus, its familiar environment, its in-state tuition costs, and the balance between academic and social offerings. None of these reasons point to academic inferiority, but instead reflect a desire for a happy college experience. Prestigious universities that hold a high academic standard can make the college experience feel all about studying, whereas at less academically superior schools such as state universities, students have more of a balance when it comes to academics and life outside of studying. Academic-minded students who are looking for that balance between academics and a social life may find their ideal college experience at a state university and therefore decide against applying to prestigious brand named institutions.
When my peers ask me to what schools I plan on applying, I will not for one second doubt my intelligence because of their condescending comments that I should want to apply to better colleges. Many people apply to prestigious universities and turn down offers to attend those academically superior brand named schools in favor of a state university, which isn’t uncommon. When it comes down to it, you should never choose a school solely for its academics, but for how well rounded it is in all of the areas that are important to you. College is the place you call your home for at least four years, and it is supposed to be one of the best experiences of your life. Therefore, it is important to decide what factors aside from academics are most important to you and from there rank each school based off of how well rounded they are for your needs.
In the end, a college alone does not make a successful graduate. But, someone with grit and determination will succeed at any college that they determine is the best school for them.
Working Hard in Order to Get Into a Selective College is Not in Vain
Many Edina High School students’ obsession with numbers, admissions statistics, and brand name institutions leads many to question whether the current education system effectively measures knowledge, and whether attending a high-caliber post-secondary school even matters. The answer to both questions is yes. There are countless critics of the current system, but standardized testing and GPAs measure not just a student’s knowledgeability, but also consistency and dedication.
Today’s education standards mean that high schoolers have to buckle down and work hard as soon as they begin high school. In order to be admitted to the most competitive schools, students need virtually perfect GPAs. This means that there is no room for mistakes, even early on in high school. For example, all of the University of California schools only ask that applicants provide their grade 10 and 11 GPAs. Colleges care about their applicants’ academic performance early on in high school because they want their students to be steadfast scholars, and the only way for them to locate that trait is to look for consistency in their applicants’ transcripts.
While some think colleges’ ruthless obsession with academic performance in high school turns high school students into academic slaves, the truth is there’s much more to the admissions process than numbers. To get an idea of their applicants’ qualities, most colleges ask for multiple essays written by the student. In addition to this, some schools ask for or include an interview with an admissions officer or alumnus during the admissions process. This allows colleges to dig beyond the numbers, and get an idea of what the student can bring to the classroom.
The most selective schools consider all the factors mentioned above in their admissions process, and in turn, they graduate students that are far more likely to be successful in the workforce. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the median salary of an Ivy League graduate 10 years after his or her graduation is over $70,000. For comparison, the median salary of graduates of non-Ivy League schools in the United States a decade after graduation is $34,000. Even more stunning is the difference between top 10% incomes of Ivy League graduates ($200,000 a year) versus the top 10% incomes of graduates from other institutions (just under $70,000) a year. In regards to the value of a brand name college degree, the graduates of the nation’s top universities lead far more financially successful lives than graduates of less well-established universities.
To many students, high school is a long and brutal slog full of hard work. However, the work that students do in high school is an investment that pays off when they gain admission to highly ranked post-secondary institutions. The students that work diligently in high school will be more successful in both their academic and working careers; they will also develop a work ethic that will aid them immensely in all their future endeavors.