Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be

VocationBook Review

(2015, Grand Central Publishing) – by NYTIMES columnist Frank Bruni.

The essential message here for all college bound high school students and families echoes important pathways to a healthy college search experience.

*Theme: College admission is not a zero sum game with winners and losers but a small step in a lifelong process.

Bruni quote (page 8-9): “A yes or no from ???? or ??? or ??? is seen as the conclusive measure of a young person’s worth, a binding verdict on the life he/she has led to that point, an incontestable harbinger Winner or Loser, this is when the judgment is made. What madness. What nonsense.”

Echo: Dr. Michael Thompson’s seminal piece “College Admission as a failed rite of passage” (NAIS, 1997) expands on this argument to include parents. Admission to a certain college is not an assessment of your worth as a parent nor is it a measure of your son/daughter’s worth as a person. http://www.parentsassociation.com/college/failed_rite.html)

*Theme: College is what you put into it.

Bruni quote (page 27): Sociologist D. Michael Lindsay’s (2014) Platinum Study studied 550 US leaders; CEOs, Presidents of not-for-profits, US Presidents & other government leaders. Finding? The group of undergraduate colleges attended by these accomplished leaders was highly diverse and showed no pattern, no Ivy league bias.

Echo: When the average rate of graduation after SIX years is around 55%, clearly we should be doing a better job of matching students with colleges.    

*Theme: Graduate school is more important than undergraduate school.

Bruni quote (pages 140): A 2011 study by Alan Kruger (Princeton Economics professor) & Stacy Daly (analyst with Mathematics Policy Research) analyzed the income earned by graduates of less than famous colleges/universities who had applied to more prestigious institutions. Finding? No difference in lifetime income.

Echo: SATs roughly track future income. Or as Alan Krueger said in explaining his research, (Bruni, page 140): “A good student can get a good education just about anywhere.”

Next blog posting: Tips for making the College Fair experience work for you.

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. David is a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. His website is www.collegesearchnow.net and he can be reached there.


**More than three years of archived monthly e-newsletter articles can be read at http:/blog.collegesearchnow.net. Many readers have found my articles on the stress on families of the college search to be especially helpful. (be sure to check out e-newsletters #22 from April, 2012 and #29 from November, 2012.)