Now is the time that high school seniors are deciding which university they want to attend. Most of us are aware of the top universities in the country such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Brown. Acceptance into one of these institutions is coveted and is seen as a massive accomplishment amongst students, their families and even potential employers. A handful of high schoolers work above and beyond just for a chance to be considered by one of these top schools. For example, when I was in high school, I mostly took honors and AP classes — as did so many of my peers — but why? Really, it was to increase one’s class ranking and GPA, to be a more desirable candidate to prestigious colleges.
Some students overwork themselves so much that they become overwhelmed. They miss out on beautiful moments of high school such as hanging out with friends, attending school parties and more just to validate their intelligence by getting accepted into an Ivy League school. Jamie Beaton, the author of his 2022 book “Accepted!” highlights his personal experience with the Ivy schools application process. He mentions that he got accepted into Ivies such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton not because he was smarter than his peers, but because instead of taking four “A” level courses, he took 10, demonstrating his dedication and responsibility. Students try a multitude of ways to stand out amongst their peers, if not taking more AP courses, they aim for a perfect score on the SATs or ACTs, exhibit their talent in athletics or attain leadership positions in their jobs or clubs. All of these serve the purpose of trying to get accepted into as prestigious of a university as possible.
But is it really worth it for high school students to push themselves to their absolute limit just for the sake of getting accepted into a popular and coveted college?
If a student desires to attend an Ivy because of its academic program such as Yale, which has an exceptional law program, or Harvard for studying medicine, those are valid reasons. However, wanting to attend an Ivy just because it is “popular” and prestigious is not.
On another note, students who determine their success and intelligence by getting accepted into an Ivy League school should not be discouraged if they are denied. A financially wealthier student has a much higher chance of getting accepted into an Ivy school than an intelligent yet financially poorer student. Harvard economist Raj Chetty from “The Atlantic” found that “those who make more than $630,000 a year—are 77 times more likely to be admitted to and attend an Ivy League school than students coming from families who make less than $30,000 a year.” So then the assumption can be that Ivy schools are more prestigious and coveted because of how expensive they are, making it difficult for acceptance because most families of students make far less than the $630,000 salary that Ivies want.
Just because something is great for one person, does not mean it will be great for another. Everyone is unique and has different strengths with different values, and each university is unique as well. When considering which university to attend, students should ask themselves questions such as which university has the best academic program for them, do they like the location the university is in, do they value the city life or do they want to be surrounded by nature, do they want to stay close to family and do they value smaller class sizes?
Let’s take a look at the University of Connecticut, for instance. If I was a basketball player, then my first option would most likely be UConn. After asking my friends, very few chose this school because they wanted to be close to their families, while the others used it as a “safety school.” Choosing the right school is extremely important. High schoolers should take it seriously and instead of conforming to that pressure of striving to get accepted into Ivies, they should think about how they want their college experience to go and what school they think best captures their personal values and strengths. No student should view the “lesser-known” college that they got accepted into only as their “safety school” after being rejected by “top” colleges. We are putting Ivy League schools on such a high pedestal, but in doing so, we are undervaluing other incredible institutions. Just because Ivy League schools are extremely hard to get into and popular does not mean they are better institutions in comparison to state schools or even community colleges. Let’s all take some time to research more about different, lesser known schools and appreciate what they have to offer and then find the one that best fits our preferences and needs.
Great article! I chose a college with an army focus and am now preparing to defend my country. This topic is quite relevant nowadays. If you are studying the topic of the army in college, I recommend this https://studydriver.com/army/ resource so that you do not waste a lot of time. It can be very useful for students.