Advice for Rising Seniors

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Advice for Rising Seniors

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There are many valuable pieces of advice your average rising-senior could be told. (Indeed, they
will undoubtedly be told many of these “words of wisdom” multiple times over the next 12
months.) However, there is one piece of advice that rising seniors are not told as much as they
should be.

Where you go to college is not as important as everyone pretends.

Yes, the college application process takes work. Yes, you’ll have to put up with everyone and
their aunt asking you where you’re going to school next fall. And yes, you’ll have to deal with
people who wear their college credentials like a coat of arms. These are the things that make
college feel like a big deal. A really big deal.

But, college does not have to be a big deal. If you can find a school where you feel comfortable
and you can thrive in the ways you desire, then you have found your college. That place may fit
society’s narrow definition of a “good college”; it may not. That’s ok. This is your school, not
society’s.

Now, I always knew this in theory, but I often had difficulty really believing it. I wanted to
believe it, but where was the proof? Who could actually say that college does not matter? Then I
read an Op-Ed by Frank Bruni in The New York Times.

The article was called “How to Survive the College Admissions Madness,” and it told the story of
several high school students as they navigated America’s arduous college admissions process.
One such student was Peter Hart. Hart was a good student, but when it came to college, he got
rejected from his top choices and ended up at Indiana University. It was here that he thrived. He
joined the honors program, became vice president of the business fraternity on campus, and
started a small real estate enterprise. After graduation, he found work at the Boston Consulting
Group where he worked besides a fellow classmate who had gone to Yale. As the article put it,
despite “traveling a more gilded path, he’d arrived at the same destination.”

It is for this reason that college does not have to be a big deal. Your college experience is not
measured by the name of your school. It is measured by your effort. If you work to find new
opportunities and embrace them when they appear, then you will be just as successful as your
Ivy-covered counterparts.

Now, thinking of college in this way may not work for all people. Indeed, some may like the
“big deal” that college has become. But I never did. And so my advice would be to face the
college application process on your terms in whatever form that may be. Because it is only then
that you will be able to find a place that will make you happy for the next four years of your life.

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