It doesn’t matter at all where you go to college. It doesn’t matter if you go to college. It doesn’t matter if you drop out of college.
People are under the mistaken impression that college makes you successful. This is simply not true. College doesn’t make you a success. You make yourself a success.
We got that out of the way.
But….because you knew there would be a but. It’s me after all, the person who was called “Yeah but” in her first post college job because I was always reinventing the wheel. And guess what made me successful in my first job? The fact that I was always questioning things. See, in high school and college, I was a slacker. I didn’t study unless I loved the subject. (Hence- English major. I love to read, so those classes were actually effortless) So, where I went to college, how much I studied, didn’t really matter. I made myself into a viable human….
When my daughter was younger, about third grade (the year everything changes in NYC public school system, because here, standardized test scores matter) I told her some things. I told her that her grades didn’t matter to me. How hard she did, or didn’t study didn’t effect me at all- I don’t put her stats in my resume. I told her that what she did mattered to her. I told her that sure, I had a really nice job even though I didn’t work hard early on. But I also told her that I had to work really really hard to get to a higher position. I started about one step above the mail room, because that’s where people who slack off often start out, and I worked five times harder than anyone else. And got recognized. And then worked ten times harder than anyone else. And got noticed. And on and on, but you get the idea. I told my daughter that being successful in what you want was not going to be easy, but the more work and grit she put in along the way would create opportunities for her, opportunities that would not be available to a mere mortal. I explained to her that you work hard and do well so that you have opportunity.
Now here’s where the schools come in.
My daughter and I visited a “highly ranked” school the past two days for their accepted students day. (If you look at the US News and World Report rankings, you don’t have to go too far from the top to find this school.) How much does this name and this rank actually mean?
Here are my observations:
- Kids attended classes to get a feel of what being a student at this school actually entailed. My daughter sat in two classes. When I caught up with her later on she had a big smile of her face. She said it was exactly what she hoped to find at a school, exactly what her version of college was. Ten students sitting around a table, the teacher giving them talking points and ideas, and everyone batting things around.
- Kids attended panel discussions about research, intern, fellowship and study abroad opportunities. They pummeled the panel with questions and then when the panelists went to the four corners of the atrium they lined up to ask a billion questions about how to accomplish all these things.
- Advisors, both major related and pre professional, stood in rooms and explained to eager students how they will help them pursue their goals.
- Students organizations held a fair to talk about all the amazing groups the students could join on campus.
- Some upperclassmen talked about what they are working on while at school. If you ever want to feel inferior, sit in on one of these panels. When the twenty year old stands up at the podium and tells you that he is a recording artist who sells out small venue shows, started a foundation to bring clean water to places where they don’t have access, and is scheduled to graduate in five years with a Masters in being in charge of the world, or something like that, you kind of reflect on you life for a second or two.
Does where you go to college matter?
Unless you are one of these students who thrive on being in an atmosphere that nurtures their goals and dreams.
There are students who want to study at particular universities and colleges because these places quite simply hold the keys to their dreams. These institutions allow them the ability to think and learn and grow. They provide them with teachers who give them ideas to ponder. They provide them with state of the art equipment to further their research and learning. They help them write grant proposals and fellowship applications. They advise them as to which courses will help them grow as a student and a person. They help them see the possibilities that they didn’t even know existed.
This is why some students really want to go to a particular school. These students are the ultimate optimists. They believe in the value of their dreams. (that’s Eleanor Roosevelt, not my words) They believe there are dreams that they don’t even know about yet. And they believe that certain schools will give them opportunities.
Does where you go to college matter?
Unless it does.