2 years ago
Admissions Advice


It's more important to choose the right college over prestige.


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2 years ago[edited]

Only you can answer that question for yourself. And I say this because college is a commodity and networking tool, its fungible to some extent. It's not a like picking a husband or wife. While there are 8 billion people on the planet, most parents, friends and mentors will say pick the person that gets you and you get them. Don't pick someone for money or looks alone.

There are over 4500 colleges that offer 4 year degrees. Clearly some are premium luxury brands like lux goods sold for public consumption. Does someone need a Bentley, LV belt, Hermes Birkin bag, or a pair of Travis Scott lows? Absolutely not. I'm 1000% certain that if you look at the Top150 schools or 3% top of the pyramid of schools, one can get a world class undergraduate education that will prepare you for any kind of graduate program or if you want to enter the workforce soon after, that as well. If you want to be Judge, Financier, Doctor, Engineer, Programmer, you don't have to go to an Ivy college or an Elite university or Top Liberal Arts college, there are another 125 perfectly good choices. There are Rhodes Scholars that come out of Reed College in Portland Oregon who go on to pursue advanced degrees at Oxford University in the UK. The same can be said whether you go to Smith, Occidental, UWashington, or Macalester. Even if you are lucky enough to get into Deeps Springs College which is tiny 2 year AA degree college in Northern California, all of their grads go onto Ivys or Elites and have impressive careers.

That being said, if you can get into a college that has both prestige and academic status, then you should apply and shoot your shot. The other factor is cost. Private colleges and out of state admissions to top public colleges are very expensive indeed. In one generation, college costs 10 times the cost of what the published rates were when your parents went to college. My dad's freshman year of Tuition, Room and Board at Syracuse University School of Architecture was $8500. My first year starting this fall at Columbia will be around $85,000 and will go up to $99,000 by year 4 or something like that.

So if you do not qualify for great financial aid, I would hesitate to recommend that all incoming freshman pay $350,000 for their undergraduate education, especially if they want to become doctors and lawyers. Three years of law/medical school will set them back another $300,000 and business school $200,000. That's like 2 Rolls Royces or Bentleys, not a trivial amount. So if you are middle or upper class and you parents don't want to spend that kind of money or refuse, then you should look at schools that offer Merit Scholarships or Stay in-state for Undergraduate work, and apply to the best school you can get into for Law School, MBA, or Medical school.

Not enough discussion is spent with high school students on the cost/benefit of attending schools. Just like my luxury goods example at the beginning, you don't have to have a Bentley as your first car. You might start off with a Honda Civic and than upgrade to something that you want to have because you can afford it and want the prestige because you've earned it.

Right now in the sneaker market is over hyped. The same is true of luxury goods. And unfortunately the same is true with T150 schools. There is rampant application inflation and a deliberate and conscious attempt for top colleges to control their narrative and make the most of out their brand clout, loyalty and prestige factor. When was the last time Harvard was actually ranked number 1 in US News world report? Do you know? It was 9 years ago in 2013. Nevertheless it's the hardest large research university to get into at 3.19% because of it's prestige factor.

The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter very much which Top 150 college you go to if you want to matriculate into the best grad schools. And if I would extend that to the T 300 schools if you are attending a public college in their honors program. What matters is where you end up right? Not whether you are winning the race over the first couple miles of the marathon.

Good luck.

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