Working Hard in Order to Get Into a Selective College is Not in Vain

Matthew Egger, page editor

Many Edina High School students’ obsession with numbers, admissions statistics, and brand name institutions leads many to question whether the current education system effectively measures knowledge, and whether attending a high-caliber post-secondary school even matters. The answer to both questions is yes. There are countless critics of the current system, but standardized testing and GPAs measure not just a student’s knowledgeability, but also consistency and dedication.

Today’s education standards mean that high schoolers have to buckle down and work hard as soon as they begin high school. In order to be admitted to the most competitive schools, students need virtually perfect GPAs. This means that there is no room for mistakes, even early on in high school. For example, all of the University of California schools only ask that applicants provide their grade 10 and 11 GPAs. Colleges care about their applicants’ academic performance early on in high school because they want their students to be steadfast scholars, and the only way for them to locate that trait is to look for consistency in their applicants’ transcripts.

While some think colleges’ ruthless obsession with academic performance in high school turns high school students into academic slaves, the truth is there’s much more to the admissions process than numbers. To get an idea of their applicants’ qualities, most colleges ask for multiple essays written by the student. In addition to this, some schools ask for or include an interview with an admissions officer or alumnus during the admissions process. This allows colleges to dig beyond the numbers, and get an idea of what the student can bring to the classroom.

The most selective schools consider all the factors mentioned above in their admissions process, and in turn, they graduate students that are far more likely to be successful in the workforce. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the median salary of an Ivy League graduate 10 years after his or her graduation is over $70,000. For comparison, the median salary of graduates of non-Ivy League schools in the United States a decade after graduation is $34,000. Even more stunning is the difference between top 10% incomes of Ivy League graduates ($200,000 a year) versus the top 10% incomes of graduates from other institutions (just under $70,000) a year.  In regards to the value of a brand name college degree, the graduates of the nation’s top universities lead far more financially successful lives than graduates of less well-established universities.

To many students, high school is a long and brutal slog full of hard work. However, the work that students do in high school is an investment that pays off when they gain admission to highly ranked post-secondary institutions. The students that work diligently in high school will be more successful in both their academic and working careers; they will also develop a work ethic that will aid them immensely in all their future endeavors.