If you could glimpse your life twenty years from now and see that you’re happy and successful, would you worry less about whether or not the college you’ll go to is a prestigious one?
I spent yesterday with about 50 of my old UC Irvine friends at an informal reunion, some of whom I haven’t seen since graduation. If we’d glimpsed our futures 20 years ago, we’d have seen ourselves becoming doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers, professors, second-grade teachers, college deans, school principals, computer programmers, bank executives, tech entrepreneurs, marine biologists, moms, dads, PTA members, soccer coaches, people who work for companies called “Facebook” and “Google” and a college admissions counselor who writes something called a “blog.”
Every one of those successful people had a story to tell yesterday that involved hard work and some formative experience in college that helped start them down the path to where they are today.
If you’re working hard in high school because you think you have to go to an Ivy League school to be successful, you’re working hard for the wrong reasons. Work hard because you want to be better educated. Do it because you want opportunities for yourself. Do it because you know that there aren't any shortcuts.
And most importantly, do it because if you could glimpse your life 20 years from now, it will be your hard work—not the name or prestige of your college—that determines just how successful you’re going to be.