a year ago
Admissions Advice

COLLEGE FIT is more important then PRESTIGE, CLOUT and RANK

As a 1st year Columbia University student I wanted to share that selecting a college on mutual fit is more important than how News Orgs. rank schools, how your friends and family value it on prestige, and the hyped-up market values the institution based on clout.

Some of you know me from my posts but I got admitted ED for the Class of '25 but because of COVID-19 insecurity I decided to take a gap year and go to Deerfield Academy for a Post Graduate year of HS. The extra time really helped me transition into Columbia, living away from home in a big city and fending for myself in a largely impersonal environment. I found great friends fast, picking my classes was a breeze, and found my spots around campus to study and had enough time to explore the city. What I didn't do is sign up for a ton of clubs, just a couple of things I was interested in. At the time I was applying to boarding-schools most of my friends and schoolmates were scratching their heads because typically PGs are recruited athletes trying to get another Varsity season in to get picked by a better college. I must have started a new trend because all the Admissions officers at Exeter, Andover, Choate, Hotchkiss, and Loomis agreed that doing an academic PG year was a clever and interesting thing.

As you decide where to go to college this season as the decisions come out, keep in mind that your mental health and ability to thrive in a difficult environment are paramount to your future success. While most of you would rather matriculate into the most prestigious school possible, I recommend that you err on the side of caution and make sure you are on your "A" game and can hit the campus running because it's no fun to be struggling at an Ivy League or Elite college.

One important lesson I learned from doing a PG year at a top boarding school is that my boarding school friends were extremely well positioned to succeed at the hardest colleges in America because they have been on a strict diet of extremely difficult course rigor, ECs, sports and conforming to a private school culture which is a proxy for attending Ivy league and top liberal arts colleges like Bowdoin, Swarthmore, and Amherst.

The other important lesson I learned is that 2/3 rds of top boarding school grads are entirely happy not to matriculate into Ivys. There are so so many affluent accomplished kids who are happy to go to Wake Forest, U of Richmond, UVA, Trinity, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, Colgate, Vassar, and Colby. They all know that regardless of their family wealth, status, or power base, they are going to be just fine going to whatever college they get into because they are going to make the most of it.

They are going to join clubs, sororities, and frats, do sports, make awesome lifetime friends, and enjoy their classes. So the 2nd big lesson is that if you are confident as a person, you will succeed regardless of what undergraduate college you attend. Students who end up at Middlebury or Haverford or Pomona college get fantastic internships and have multiple job offers when they graduate. If you are not a legacy at Harvard or Yale, it doesn't mean your life is over. Your wonderful life continues and it's just a tiny blip in the universe that is not going to hold you down or mess up your plans.

The 3rd point is that how you interact with your peers and how you make the most of your time with your new college family is far more important than what college you attend. You will meet awesome, intelligent, kind, funny, quirky, well-connected people at almost every top 100 university in America. So you need to re-adjust your thinking and figure out which college makes the most sense for your happiness.

Good luck and vote on the poll, please. I'm curious!

Given the choice, I'm picking the most prestigious college !
Given the choice, I'm picking the most economical college !
Given the choice, I'm picking the higest rank college !
Given the choice, I'm picking the college that is the best fit !
Poll closed23 votes
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🎤a year ago

I'm pleasantly surprised that nearly 3/4 of CV members want to go to colleges that are a good fit for them!


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SAT: 720 math
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