Run a namebranditis test

Do you have namebranditis, a condition causing those afflicted to fixate on prestigious colleges due only to their names (and to vague reasons like “it’s a great school”)?

Here’s an easy test.

Imagine that every school ranked in the US News Top 50 all decided overnight to adopt new names that bear no connection to the university. Harvard becomes “Eastern Higher Learning.” Stanford becomes “Big Sky University.” Yale becomes “Life Prep College.” And any student admitted must sign a non-disclosure agreement prohibiting any mention (including on a future resume) of the former name. So you couldn’t tell an employer you’d gone to “the school that used to be called Harvard.”

Now, gauge your level of interest. If you’re still just as excited about the idea of attending (or of your student attending) one of those formerly famous schools, that’s a sign you’re considering it for the right reasons for you. But if you’d be less interested, if you’d be crushed to learn an admission would mean attaching yourself to a less famous name, it’s a sign you’ve likely got a case of namebranditis. It’s also an indicator that it’s time to think more deeply about what you hope or expect to gain from your college experience, and what type of schools are most likely to offer those opportunities.