I spent last weekend at a friend’s 40th birthday party with a group of happy and successful guys. Here were their professions (mine included):
Head of a college counseling company
Middle school teacher
Director of a middle school
Human resources analyst
Product manager at Microsoft
Green technology program officer
Titan of internet advertising
Here’s where we went to college (not in the same order as the above list):
Sarah Lawrence College
University of Washington (2)
Can you guess who went where? If you could correctly identify any match other than for the guy whose bio is linked to this blog, I'd be impressed. It’s nearly impossible to guess because the name of any college doesn’t determine what you’ll do and how successful you’ll be doing it. That’s why if you surmised that a titan of anything would have to be the one who went to an Ivy League school, you’d be wrong.
You can’t draw a straight line from the college that accepts you to a happy, successful life after college. Yes, there are some exceptions, like engineers, journalists and other professionals who picked their colleges and majors based on the careers they knew at age 18 were right for them. But most successful people got to be that way not by just getting into a famous school, but by taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them during and after college, and continuing to work hard.
The work you do to get into college is incredibly important. So is the care you take in picking and applying to your chosen schools. But who accepts you and who doesn’t—that’s less important. A college doesn’t get to decide your future for you. Make that choice yourself.