There’s an opinion piece in “The Washington Post” by Jeffrey J. Selingo entitled “Let’s end the craziness of college admissions” that we wished to discuss on the pages of our blog. The piece focuses on how applications continue to rise each and every year at highly selective colleges, how students and parents are all stressed out and beside themselves, and how getting into a highly selective college isn’t a prerequisite to living a successful life in America. It’s an opinion piece we feel like we’ve read five hundred and eighteen times previously to round down but there was one point in the piece that we wanted to share.
As Selingo writes, “The ambition to get into the best colleges is driven in part by parents’ concern over job prospects after graduation. But in interviewing employers of all sizes in recent years, I found them increasingly less interested in where someone went to college, and more concerned about the hands-on learning experiences applicants get, including internships, undergraduate research, and other outside-the-classroom endeavors. And as more employers use their own data on the performance of their best employees to find out why they are thriving in the job, some are discovering that a worker’s alma mater or degree has little do with success on the job. Of course, there are exceptions. Some employers, mostly the big Wall Street banks, consulting firms, and law firms still tend to favor applicants from elite colleges and universities. But for the most part, it’s not the education that is better at these selective colleges; it’s the network of students that undergraduates connect to, through the parents of classmates, alumni, and eventually when students themselves become alumni. While that network might be smaller, it exists in some way at any decent college.”
While the Ivy League colleges offer outstanding educations, we have made a point over the years to stress that many selective and highly selective colleges offer great educations too. We’ve been helping students earn admission to colleges for over a quarter of a century so we’ve got an opinion or two on which colleges offer the best educations. Amherst and Williams, two highly selective colleges, offer two of the best educations in the world. Better than Harvard? We’d argue — yes! But does that mean that students should choose to attend a Williams or an Amherst over a Harvard? That would be ridiculous. Students generally don’t choose Williams (sorry Williams) over Harvard. And Selingo seems to get this in his piece.
A college education isn’t all about the in-classroom education. It’s about the students with whom they share the experience. It’s about the lifelong friendships forged during those four immensely important years. It’s about the late night talks about politics and world events with classmates. And the future movers and shakers of our world — the future captains of industry — they tend not to go to Penn State University (sorry Penn State). They tend, with exception of course, to go to schools like Harvard (and Harvard’s peers). And so, when you think about it like this, it’s not crazy in the least to try to get into the best school possible since the very best educations — in the true sense of the term — are at the most selective schools in America.
Have a thought on the craziness of college admissions? Post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to jump in on the conversation.