A Student Will Be Most Successful in the Environment that is Best for Them

Brooke Sheehy, page editor

Less than one percent of college bound students attend one of the elite Ivy leagues. Does that make the other 99% any less capable of success?

It is my junior year of high school and I am looking at colleges I may be interested in applying to during the summer. I have always known there are two schools that I will definitely apply to: the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and the University of Wisconsin Madison. Quite frequently when I tell people this, a sudden look of shock appears on their face. They are compelled to ask me why I don’t want to apply to a “better” college.

I am well aware that they mean I am capable of attending a more selective private college rather than an easy-to-get-into public state university, but sometimes I cannot help but feel insulted. By saying this, they are indirectly telling me that if I attend the school that I think is best for me, I will never be able to compete with my peers that will attend better schools. I have no doubt that my peers who attend post-secondary schools that accept less than 30 percent of its applicants, such as the Ivy Leagues, are intelligent. My point is that just because someone chooses to apply to less prestigious and non-brand name institution, they aren’t any less academically gifted. There are so many factors that should be considered when choosing the college that is right for you besides a college’s reputation in the college application process.

Many students may choose to apply to a state school because of the size of its campus, its familiar environment, its in-state tuition costs, and the  balance between academic and social offerings. None of these reasons point to academic inferiority, but instead reflect a desire for a happy college experience. Prestigious universities that hold a high academic standard can make the college experience feel all about studying, whereas at less academically superior schools such as state universities, students have more of a balance when it comes to academics and life outside of studying. Academic-minded students who are looking for that balance between academics and a social life may find their ideal college experience at a state university and therefore decide against applying to prestigious brand named institutions.

When my peers ask me to what schools I plan on applying, I will not for one second doubt my intelligence because of their condescending comments that I  should want to apply to better colleges. Many people apply to prestigious universities and turn down offers to attend those academically superior brand named schools in favor of a state university, which isn’t uncommon. When it comes down to it, you should never choose a school solely for its academics, but for how well rounded it is in all of the areas that are important to you. College is the place you call your home for at least four years, and it is supposed to be one of the best experiences of your life. Therefore, it is important to decide what factors aside from academics are most important to you and from there rank each school based off of how well rounded they are for your needs.

In the end, a college alone does not make a successful graduate. But, someone with grit and determination will succeed at any college that they determine is the best school for them.