Counterpoint: Does the name of the college that you attend matter?

Nicole Boyd, Staff Writer

This generation is intensely preoccupied with image.  Fearing the judgment of our peers, we adopt a superficial air of confidence and attempt to assert dominance through the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and other features that can be seen externally.  For high school students, this preoccupation also extends to the world of academics.

Throughout high school, the grades we receive and the activities in which we participate progressively gain greater weight.  With college looming in the future, new academic standards are put into place, and admissions officers become yet another imposing population of people ready to exercise judgment.   “Where I would go was the most important thing to me,” said senior Justin Truglio.  “I believed the college I attended would make me into the person that I wanted to be.”

Not surprisingly, this outlook is commonplace among most students.  As top universities gradually become household names, we are led to believe that college is the apotheosis of success.  Thus, in our minds, a hierarchy of academic institutions develops almost naturally.

Typically associated with high-class superiority and everlasting prosperity, top universities become as coveted as the designer brands that we adorn so proudly, while lesser-known schools are made equivalent to thrift and department store labels and are immediately linked to mediocrity, disappointment, and long-run failure.

But this widespread idea is actually illogical.  There is no doubt that a high-caliber education is extremely beneficial in all real-world pursuits.  However, the top five colleges and universities are not the only places that offer such an education and, on the whole, are not required ingredients in the recipe for personal fulfillment.

In truth, success is not determined by the diploma that is received but by the quality of the work completed in the process of receiving that diploma.  If you graduate with high merits, you will be well-suited for the world that lies ahead regardless of the institution you attended.  Some students feel that it is better to attend a university where they can excel and not struggle to keep their head about water.

“It is often better to be what they call a ‘big fish in a small pond,’” said senior Yvette May.  “You can go to Harvard, get that diploma, and be at the bottom of your class.  But if you go to an ‘okay’ college and do really well, it would look a lot better to potential employers.”

When choosing the right school, mental health must also be taken into account.  After all, just because a college is considered to be “the best” does not mean that it is necessarily the best for all people.  Not every individual is physically comfortable at every school.  For instance, at an enormous institution, like Cornell or BU, some people may feel lost and insignificant.  Likewise, at a more intimate school, such as Vassar or Middlebury, others might feel congested and limited.  Such feelings of discomfort can hinder the quality of a student’s life and studies. Therefore, it is important that everyone finds a place where they feel at home and where they can complete their best work.

A college’s atmosphere, and whether or not that atmosphere complements a particular person, is similarly dependent on the personality of its student population.  People may transfer from their initial schools in response to the rigor of the curriculum.  However, more often than not, their reasoning is based more heavily on the fact that they are unhappy among their peers.

In college, social success is equally as important as academic success; it is simply not healthy to dedicate 24 hours a day and seven days a week solely to work.  Thus, it is crucial that students observe the nature of the people in attendance just as heavily as the nature of the classes offered.

In planning their academic futures, students should not fixate on rank.  Instead, they should dedicate their time to evaluating themselves and their educational goals.

“After graduation, you won’t remember how well known your school was or how impressed your friends were when you got in,” said junior Neve Devine.  “What will be remembered are the relationships made and the time you spent dedicating yourself to a profession.”

All in all, there is no set recipe for success in the college process.  Every individual is composed of unique ingredients, complementary to a unique set of factors that may or may not be found at the nation’s premier school.