You won’t believe the number of times I’ve asked a person about his/her dream college or university, and the other person would say “Harvard” or “Yale”.
When asked why, they would simply shrug and say something like:
“Dude c’mon, it’s HARVARD” or “Yale is prestigious”.
After hearing these answers, I usually just smile back and nod, but deep inside I’m face-palming with both hands.
You see, our society has a big problem these days. No matter what aspect of our lives, everyone is obsessed with brands. From cars to the types of shoes you wear, people are becoming more and more influenced by brands, myself included.
And these people are making billions. Sometimes I wonder if this is why aliens won’t visit us…
Unfortunately, this fixation with brands migrated to the college scene, with more and more international students only aiming for the Ivies and how anything less than Harvard is completely unacceptable.
Students need to remember that society shouldn’t influence their decisions. You need to make their own decision, regardless of what other people think because it’s not their life, it’s yours. Period.
One popular misconception is that people think that an Ivy League school will magically give them a shortcut to success and open doors for them. The truth is, that success is not contingent on the college one goes to, but the type of person you are.
Then why do Ivy League Graduates earn more than the average graduate?
Great question. You see, it’s not these institutes that make students hard working. The kids who are accepted into these colleges and universities are already hardworking, passionate, and committed.
That is one of the main reasons they are admitted.
Admissions officers realize that no college or course can change the type of person a student is, until he/she wants to change for themselves.
So they make a safe bet and get students who have already shown strong personalities and hard work and commitment through their academics, ECs, sports, or even through their personal story.
Here’s a quick note/excerpt from my book that fits here perfectly:
Start of Excerpt
A lot of people have the misconception that you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to go to an Ivy League school if you want to be successful. This is simply not true.
Success is contingent on a number of factors, but the most important is hard work. It might sound really cliché, but there is no substitute for hard work.
The reason a lot of Ivy League graduates do well is that hard work and commitment is second nature to them before they even attend theirfirst class in their respective universities.
Once they start studying alongside equally hard working minds in these institutes, it only leads to a thicker shell and more hard work, resulting in inevitable success.
This is the reason that the Ivy League graduates do well. It’s not the institute, but the people and their focused minds that lead them to success.
Just look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. They both attended Harvard and they both dropped out.
Because they had constantly worked hard their whole lives, and once a revolutionary idea strikes someone who works unimaginably hard, success follows.
They both made a call that a university degree from an Ivy League University is less valuable than the ideas and projects they had in mind.
They had to choose, and they DIDN’T choose a Harvard degree.
Today one is worth US $76 billion and the other US $51.2 billion, so can anyone say they made the wrong call?
They had talent, backed it up with hard work, and success came like a moth to a flame.
End of Excerpt
Yes, you read that right.
On the off chance you didn’t hear about this last year, this is a perfect example of what I’ve been talking about in the excerpt from my book.
A prison debate team had limited resources, took hours to research what we could easily find on google, and had limited access to typing and printing accessories.
Yet, against all odds, they beat the “best” debating team in the country.
The message echoed by these individuals is how one’s commitment to learning and exploration matters. Commitment is the key ingredientto success in life regardless where you are – Harvard or Prison.
Back to Ivies, the emotional and mental cost.
Another point I’d like to make is that sometimes it can get a little too competitive for the average Ivy League student and a person might burn out, or worse.
There’s a great article by The New York Times on suicide on Campus and the pressure of perfection, highlighting how much psychological pressure is put on students in these top universities.
I knew a girl from Iran who got into an Ivy League school as an international applicant, and she definitely corroborated these type of claims.
She talked about how the workload was overwhelming and how most kids were so relentless in their pursuit for perfection, that a simple B on a test could take them on a negative spiral towards depression. While some dealt with it correctly by seeking help and therapy, others lost their way completely…
In short, Ivy League universities are great but there are plenty of other GREAT universities and colleges out there.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that Ivy League universities have more recognized professors in different fields and that their networking hubs are much stronger than other universities, but that is just one end of the spectrum. There is a lot more to Ivy Leagues than meets the eye, and this piece just scratches the surface.
What I’m trying to say is that don’t be fixated on these colleges. They’re great if you get in, but you can be successful without them.
After all, even if you end up going to a college ranked #100 in the USA, you’re college is still better than 97.5% of the 4,100+ colleges in the country!