The Daily Star
---- — It’s that time of year when high school students wait impatiently for the mailman — or check their computers compulsively — to find out if they’re going to attend the college of their choice … or go to college at all.
While the process is the subject of the current romantic-comedy movie, “Admissions,” starring Tina Fey, getting into the right college is no laughing matter for young people in our area and across the country.
Suppose you are an excellent student who has received nothing but straight A’s since kindergarten, participated in a ton of extracurricular activities, was president of the student council, volunteered at the local soup kitchen and have letters of recommendation from your congressman and clergy person. You’ve never failed at anything you’ve set your mind to, and now you’ve got your mind set on Harvard or Yale or …
The envelope from the Ivy League college finally comes. It’s not real thick. Is that a bad sign? With trembling fingers, you carefully open it.
“We regret to inform you …”
You feel as if your life is over … but it isn’t.
“Past experience suggests that the particular college a student attends is far less important than what the student does to develop his or her strengths and talents over the next four years,” reads part of Harvard’s rejection letter.
And this, from Duke University: “I know you will find an institution at which you will be happy; I know, too, that the school you choose will benefit from your presence.”
Yes, there is a wealth of statistics that show that Ivy League graduates earn more on average than those who go to less-prestigious schools. But there are also statistics that show that those who apply and are rejected by the Ivy League earn just as much after graduating from other schools.
Plainly speaking, success depends far more on the student than the college. We would be the last to discourage anyone from aspiring to graduate from the finest colleges.
But billionaires Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both lack college degrees, and we’d venture to say that a whole lot of Harvard graduates work for those dropouts.
Our advice is to reject those rejection letters and attend a college that wants you. We have several wonderful universities in our area, but travel elsewhere if you want. The odds are very good that you will make friends you’ll keep all your life, and maybe even a spouse.
There are other ways to gauge success than the size of your paycheck. Work hard, excel and get a good education. Whether you learn life’s valuable lessons doesn’t depend on your college — it depends on you.