Are we against highly-selective colleges?

Yesterday’s post inviting families to attend our webinar on highly-selective college admissions generated some questions that showed I may not always be clear that I actually have nothing against the most prestigious colleges, or the idea that a student may want to attend one.

For the record: I—and the rest of our counselors at Collegewise—have nothing against the most selective colleges. We work with students every year who go on to all of those schools and end up blissfully happy. Some of our counselors attended those prestigious colleges, and they wear their alumni garb proudly. Many students have wonderful college experiences at Princeton, Duke, Georgetown, and the rest of the 40 or so colleges that are considered the most selective. We’re equal-opportunity college enthusiasts.

But here’s what we are against:

We’re against the notion that prestigious colleges offer inherently better educations or experiences than the less famous schools. There is no evidence to support that assertion.

We’re against the idea that the only acceptable outcome for an “A” student’s hard work is an admission to a college that denies nearly everyone who applies.

We’re against the belief that “B” and even “C” students can’t enjoy their ride to college, too.

We’re against treating the college admissions process as an escalating arms race, one in which happiness, fulfillment, and sanity are sacrificed in the pursuit of perfect grades, higher test scores, and more impressive activities.

And most importantly, we’re against the idea that a GPA, test score, or admission decision from a particular college is an accurate measure of a student’s worth (or a measure of that student’s parents).

Human nature dictates that for some people, the more difficult something is to get, the more they covet it. It’s the educational equivalent of the exclusive night club—the longer the line outside, the more desperate some people will be to find a way in. But when channeled into college admissions, that desperation to get admitted into a school that turns away nearly everyone ruins the process for a lot of good kids.

I, and the rest of my colleagues at Collegewise, believe that going to college is incredibly important. We believe that students should work hard, treat people right, and take an active interest in their educations. But what those hard-working, good kids do once they’re in college will be much more important than the names of the schools where they do it.