Branding dilutes college selection



Where you go to college does not define your life

The path to success is not nearly as narrow as we have been led to believe


As high school students, the majority of us spend four years preparing for our admittance into college. We go through the process of studying then testing then studying then testing then studying then testing over and over again. We share in the same delusion that if we mess up once, our high school life is ruined. If we don’t go to an Ivy League school, we will never be successful. That one wrong move, and we’ll stray from the path to success. Ivy League schools are considered the best because they are the most sought after in the country and around the world and are known for their promising career opportunities for those who attend. I am a victim of this mindset as well. Many students experience stress and anxiety on the path to achieving good grades in order to get into college, satisfy parents, and/or to be secure and stable in life. 

But there is a flaw. The desire for a high-tier college has morphed a student’s thirst for knowledge to an anxiety-riddled competition for success. It is not that the desire to be successful in life is something despicable, but rather it is the means we take to get it. Even for the most accomplished students, getting into distinguished colleges has become increasingly difficult.   These Ivy League colleges only accept a fraction of the thousands of brilliant minds that apply, yet they continue to advertise their school to impressionable students who believe that they will be in that tiny percentage. They encourage students to apply to their school through social media advertisements. They buy lists of SAT and ACT scores and encourage the top scorers to check out their school. They build up the hope of thousands only to destroy it. It may seem that this is a tactic to get the best of the best, if such a thing could truly be measured, but that simply isn’t the truth. The more students that apply, the more students they can turn away. They have given into the perverse ideology that the quality of an establishment resides in the amount of students it can disappoint by denying them admittance into their institution, and we have been convinced that this is correct. It is a common misconception that only the well-known colleges, such as Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge and Yale, will ensure their success and are the most promising for career opportunities. While Ivy League graduates’ can have higher starting salaries, there are other schools with equal or higher starting salaries. According to PayScale, an Ivy League school is not in the top five highest-paying bachelor’s degrees. 

 These colleges are becoming a brand name, a brag-worthy household staple that your family could be proud of. Going to a non-Ivy League college will not alter your life so dramatically that it will crumble. Those who attend an Ivy League school earn an average of 7% more over their lifetime in comparison to those who did not. We have as many or more examples of people who’ve gotten far in life based on how well they use the college they went to, and not on the name of the college. There is also a large pool of occupations that don’t require a college degree that can make a sizable living. You do not have to be an elite student that attends a highly-selective school to have a fulfilled life and to be successful.