Ever since we were little, society inscribed in our heads corrupt information about colleges and their prestige. It’s a never-ending competition instilled in our blood over rankings, graduation rates, acceptance percentages, etc. It’s a disease as widespread as racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
Indeed, it may look like nothing on the outside, but once you’re a high school senior undergoing these condescending remarks, you realize how toxic and detrimental it can honestly get. It isn’t until you are invariably comparing yourself and your progress to someone else’s triumphs that you think to yourself, “What am I even thinking?”
It isn’t until you’re up until three am, binging “Stats that got me into X college” videos and scrolling through College Confidential threads with burning eyes. Then we start questioning how obsessively unhealthy is my addiction to going to an elite college getting?
Let’s proceed to the root of the problem: Prestige. If we go back and hunt for the word’s etiology, we will find nothing but something ironic and unexpected. The word comes from old French, then translated to Late Latin, originally meaning deceit or an illusion.
Of course, these prime universities can provide fantastic opportunities and network sources. Still, if you cannot attend one instantly at eighteen or seventeen years old, it doesn’t mean that the chances close there. It does not mean it is the end of the world or the end of the road for your achievements.
Most people believe you only have that one shot to apply to the Ivy League or a dream college when you’re a senior in high school and get accepted or rejected; this is misleading. There’s always a transfer option, exchange programs, and most importantly, grad school.
Life doesn’t stop when you’re in high school. Doors don’t stop closing when you’re eighteen. Opportunities don’t stop granting themselves when you’re about to graduate and cannot afford to go to a top university. On the contrary, all of these just begin. Life initiates after you graduate; doors open when you rid yourself of such a toxic mentality, and opportunities abound you once you’re willing to receive them.
This is where we open the discussion of does it really matter where we go to college? Does it really matter where we spend our first four years of undergraduate school? Life is all about adequately using resources, not the level of prestige these resources have to offer. For example, you can have newly admitted students at Harvard, but what does it matter to them if they don't use what Harvard can provide them? This occurs to us every single day, whether we undeviatingly recognize it or not. We are given resources, moments to be fortunate, and blessings the minute we acknowledge we are still breathing; the second we understand we still have a life to live. But since we are so focused on the fact that success may look like a giant leap, we overlook the dimension that success indeed possesses.
Success is seen all around us. To me, prosperity is daily. If I get the chance to sit down and do what I relish without any restrictions like writing, that is a success. Of course, victories come in various shapes and sizes, but they will not always come in a significant form, such as getting a “Congratulations!” from a head college or accepting a high-paid job; success is often hidden in our lives.
The same case can happen to a student who wishes to go to a state school or community college. If they genuinely branch out and utilize its most significant potential, the resources every institution has to offer; their mindset will be at leisure. And all we need for us to reach authentic success is to have an ideal attitude.
One that isn't abused by external prejudice, patronizing criticisms, and judgments. Our minds are so compelling, and they depict what we will do in the next five minutes or craft in the next fifty years of our story that is life. It's natural to undermine the influence that our minds hold over us because we are so used to staying inside our comfort zones every day.
But once you step out and accept your surroundings, you genuinely start to question if what you thought your biggest downfall would be seriously is a downfall; or is it a concealed advantage?
Is getting rejected from a top college a flat-out rejection, or is it a redirection planned by God's protection? If something isn't meant to be in your life, it will never be in your life, and if it is, it will find its way out before you can even open its door.
Vice-versa, if something is meant to be in your life, no one will be able to take it away from you. You may change how the outcome works out, but the result will never outwork you; it is as plain as that. If you were rejected from your desired school, it simply meant you were not intended to be in that place at that time, but maybe in five years when you try again in grad school, maybe in ten years when you’re a teacher applying to be a college professor.
Perhaps it’s in thirty years when you become a professional, and they ask you to converse in one of their ceremonies. But if you weren't meant to attend that college right out of high school, that is okay. Just know we’ve all gone through a comparable experience, and you’re never alone.
Sometimes we have to face the fact that no matter if you trade your soul, no matter how much you beg the universe, no matter what you're willing to do, the stars will not align in your favor. Luck will not be an option. Hope won't even be a consideration. We often need to wake up and discern not everything we want is everything we need.
Does it hurt to get rejected from a dream school? Absolutely. It might physically pain you, and it will lead to the moment you ask the most significant amount of questions in your life, and you will wonder why and you will wonder, wasn't I the perfect fit? Until sometime in the future, you will get your answer; and it will all make sense. But until then, wherever you end up for the first four years of your new life, make the most out of it. Hunt those opportunities for yourself because no one else in this world will. Do not wait until an internship is given to you, and do not wait until a door opens; capture the key and do it yourself. Chase after chances like your life depends on it. And after every single downfall, pick yourself up and try again. Because I wouldn’t be writing this right now, and you wouldn’t be reading this if God had let me give up after my first time.