Should a College’s Reputation Influence a Student’s Decision?

The days left in high school are going by faster and faster. Soon it will be summer break, and after that comes another year of sacrificing our mental health for the sake of getting into a good college. However, we should stop and think about what classifies a college as “good.” Rather than the level of education that colleges provide, people focus too much on name and rank. A student should decide on their future college on their own terms, without relying on its reputation.

When we say “good college,” a few come to mind: USC, UCLA, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, etc. Now, I’m not saying that these colleges aren’t good. They are very difficult to get into, and therefore the accepted students are certainly top-notch. If you go up to someone and tell them that you got into Stanford, they might say, “Wow! That’s great!”

On the other hand, unknown or small colleges are not received as positively. Getting into any college is already a big accomplishment and requires a lot of commitment. The pressure placed on students to get into a UC or private school is unnecessary. It only destroys our high school experience and social life.

College rankings are also a large factor in a college’s reputation. Websites such as Forbes have these lists, and often at the top are colleges like UC Berkeley, Yale, and Princeton. But then we see other “good” colleges, such as UC Santa Cruz, down in 99th place. And community colleges aren’t even on the list. Community colleges are a good way to save money and provide students an opportunity to get into a university later. Yet, for some reason, they get less recognition.

A four-year college experience isn’t everything. You don’t have to push yourself past your limits to try and get into one. In the end, a degree is a degree, no matter the college. Suppose a college is notoriously terrible. You obviously want to avoid going there, like if it is in a bad neighborhood, has insufficient funds, and has a low graduation rate. But the number of great schools outnumber the terrible ones by far. You should focus on finding a college that makes you happy and fits your needs and interests.

It is important to love the campus, environment, and city of your college. And if that college that you fall in love with happens to be a top-tier, high-ranked university, now you better give it your all. I can imagine that there’s almost nothing better than getting accepted into your dream school after years of hard work. And I can only hope that one day, I’ll be able to experience that as well.