It is November, and for many high school seniors, this means that they are in the thick of applications and the stress many students impose on themselves thinking that they have to get into their dream school.
Let’s take a step back. There are 2,618 accredited colleges and universities in the United States, and countless junior colleges that provide every student a path to build the foundation for long-term success. The better question to ask, than how do I get in, is what is that path for you?
Avoid the temptation of thinking that only one college will provide that path to what you want to do after college. The reality is that many schools will accept students who have a GPA far below a 4.0, and who have scored the minimum on the SAT or ACT exams. Some of these schools have produced some of the greatest titans of industry.
One antidote to the admissions craze is Frank Bruni’s book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be. He argues that it does not matter what college/university you attend. Rather, what matters is what you make of the experience, how you capitalize on the opportunities, and the lasting relationships you develop during these formative years. Bruni illustrates his argument by citing where the CEO’s of the top ten companies in America went to school:
1. Wal-Mart -- University of Arkansas
2. Exxon Mobil -- University of Texas
3. Chevron – UC Davis
4. Berkshire Hathaway – University of Nebraska
5. Apple -- Auburn
6. Phillips 66 -- Texas A & M
7. General Motors -- Kettering University
8. Ford Motor -- University of Kansas
9. General Electric -- Dartmouth
10. Valero Energy --University of Missouri, St. Louis
Most of these schools are very accessible to all students.
For all high school students caught up in the frenzy of figuring out how to get into Stanford, Harvard, or any other college that accepts a mere 5% of its applicants, your time is better spent figuring out how to grow in high school, college, and beyond into a person capable of accomplishing your long-term goals. Work toward foreign language fluency, intern in fields that fascinate you, and develop leadership skills that employers and grad schools covet. You will be pleased to learn that these are the exact things that the Ivies and Stanford’s of the world are looking for in their applicants. However, much more importantly, you will develop the skills along the way to navigate life’s challenges that extend far beyond the diplomas hanging on your wall.