Crew practice, AP classes, Key Club, National Honor Society induction, study, work, sleep. The life of a high-school student aspiring to attend one of the nation’s most prestigious universities revolves around perfecting and polishing that college resume. Only an extremely small percentage of hopeful seniors will attend these colleges, but being accepted is only half the battle - students need almost $40,000 a year to attend. With a price tag like this, Harvard, Princeton and Yale should be begging students to attend their halls of higher education.
Of the thousands of universities around the nation, why do a select few get so much attention? The Ivies, and some others that carry this esteemed reputation, are so desired that they have become as much a name brand as Gucci or Coach bags. High-school seniors brag about what college they got into and proudly wear that college’s colors for years after attending. Often families attend the same universities for generations, proudly donating money and attending alumni events.
More expensive and prestigious colleges should provide a higher level of education and an atmosphere of intellect, and also ensure a better career. But on some level, attending these colleges has become less about achieving a good education and more about reputation. When asked your alma mater, it is much more satisfying to reply with the name of an Ivy League. If you attended a “lesser” college, you will often be looked at with glazed eyes. “Where?” people will ask. “Is that a state school?” On this level, attending an expensive university has become similar to owning a designer bag. However, unlike a designer bag, we cannot go to Canal Street and purchase a fake. Instead we need to learn to accept that a purse from Target will carry our essentials just as securely as one from Coach.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.