On Podcast Episode 126, “Exploring Five Underrated Colleges,” Moira sits down with Jill Ortman to discuss a few lesser known, but very strong colleges and universities throughout the country. Ortman points out the mistake that most families make during the college search process of only paying attention to schools located in the Northeast or West Coast. She recommends really honing in on the different majors and skills that you wish to pursue while in college, and thinking about what parts of the country will allow you to do that; this means broadening your search and remaining open to schools in the Sunbelt states (like Mississippi or Nevada). Although a school may not have as credible of a name as others, the niche programs and opportunities that each college offers are worth looking into, as you never know what is going to pique your interest.
One point that Ortman briefly touches on is that schools with a lower acceptance rate are automatically better schools than those with a higher acceptance rate. This is a common misconception and a valid one at that, as most people do rely on the numbers when comparing and ranking different colleges. The schools with the lower acceptance rates are generally the more accredited ones, and their names carry a lot of weight with prospective students. In reality, though, acceptance rates are measures of exclusivity and prestige, not of the quality of education that the school offers. Many schools do not include acceptance into certain programs that they offer in an effort to reduce their rate and maintain their reputation. The number of applicants that ivy league schools receive each year greatly exceeds the amount of seats available, so being selective is not a preference but a necessity.
This Forbes Magazine article discusses the disservice that this kind of mindset has on students who dream of attending ivy league colleges. Students work tirelessly throughout high school to achieve something that is, in most cases, unattainable, only to be disappointed and regretful of their past four years. What these name-brand schools do not tell you, though, is that an acceptance rate is not indicative of how the students fare once they are actually there. Attending a prominent college does not guarantee success in your post-graduate career, and being accepted certainly does not mean you are going to thrive in all aspects of college life – academically, socially, and mentally, or even enjoy the school.
Key Takeaway Scoop: When researching and applying to colleges, do not feel pressured to apply to colleges based on someone else’s opinion. Assess all of your options and pick a school that suits you and your needs. Your success is up to you, and is not limited by any person or place.