Don’t Pick a College By Its Name


Jake Salomon, Contributor

Seniors are hearing back from the colleges to which they applied and many are upset about not getting into their colleges of choice.

This year especially, the top schools were harder to get into than ever, with schools like UCLA having 111,000 applicants. That’s what my rejection email told me. However, I’m here to tell you that degree from an elite school might not be as important as you think.

There are so many great universities in America. The sheer number of schools and the unique experiences that each one offers make it impossible for someone to rank them. There is no way that all schools could be on a list or that the list is accurate. Therefore, choosing a school based on its ranking is inherently flawed.

Instead, students should choose their school based on personal fit. Programs for your intended major, educational opportunities, location, culture, and weather should be the most important factors when choosing a school. Each student demands unique requirements from their respective university, so their decision should be made based on their own checklist and it should be different from what other people think.

In other words, students should look for a custom suit, not the most expensive item on the rack.

Two students could have completely different opinions on a school and that is okay. They should not let their personal opinions be tainted by things as superficial as the views of others or a national ranking. They should choose the school that best fits their demands and where they feel at home.

Frank Bruni of The New York Times puts it beautifully, saying “the admissions game is too flawed to be given so much credit. The nature of a student’s college experience — the work that he or she puts into it, the self-examination that’s undertaken, the resourcefulness that’s honed — matters more than the name of the institution attended.”

There is so much truth in this. An extremely motivated individual will get the most from their school and squeeze every last drop of opportunity out of it, regardless of whether it has a recognizable name or not. Their desire to better themselves and give themselves a better future will take them much further than a degree from a top school.

The high-end degree might look good on a resume or could help you get into graduate school, but that’s about it. Research has proven that hiring someone just because they went to a prestigious school is not a smart move. In fact, it is quite the opposite. These students who attend top schools generally feel protected. They have this notion in their head that they will be able to get a job quite easily based solely off their school, causing them to become lazy. Why work hard to get a job when I know that university on my resume will get it for me? You do not want to hire lazy people.

On the contrary, people who attend “less prestigious” schools feel like they have to prove themselves to the world, causing them to be proactive and hard working. These are the types of people that you want working for you.

I’m well aware that these generalizations do not describe every student, but they are just that: watered down statements that can be applied to the majority of the population.

Every year, students are disappointed to hear that they did not get into their top school. Some even go as far as to say that they have failed, not realizing that most of these schools reject around 80% of applicants. I know I felt this way when I did not get into UCLA.

However, we as students need to realize that no matter what university we attend, there will be opportunities to better ourselves. It is up to us to seize these opportunities and earn success. If your answer to “Where are you going to college?” gets confused looks and people asking where it is, do not worry. This should not lower your opinion any more than an anti-vaxxer does the opinion of a medical professional.

They didn’t do the research to figure what programs that school has. They aren’t the ones that applied there. They might not know anything about the school so why should you care about their opinion of it. They aren’t you.