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Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be

An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania

By Frank Bruni
15-minute read
Audio available
Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be (2015) casts a critical eye over the mania surrounding the college admissions process in the United States. For decades, students and parents have become increasingly convinced that future success is dependent upon landing a spot at the most prestigious schools, while colleges have become engaged in their own competition for a spot at the top of the school rankings. Bruni argues that this has led to an out-of-control system that has caused people to lose sight of the real benefits of higher education.

  • Prospective college students
  • Scholars who care about the state of higher education
  • Parents who want their kids to flourish in college

Frank Bruni has been a long-time contributor for the New York Times, having been the paper’s chief restaurant critic from 2004 to 2009 as well as an op-ed columnist. His other books include the bestsellers Born Round (2009) and Ambling Into History (2002).

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Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be

An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania

By Frank Bruni
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni
Synopsis

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be (2015) casts a critical eye over the mania surrounding the college admissions process in the United States. For decades, students and parents have become increasingly convinced that future success is dependent upon landing a spot at the most prestigious schools, while colleges have become engaged in their own competition for a spot at the top of the school rankings. Bruni argues that this has led to an out-of-control system that has caused people to lose sight of the real benefits of higher education.

Key idea 1 of 9

The Ivy League universities aren’t the only producers of successful people.

Ask people which are the elite American colleges – the places said to put people on a fast-track to success – and most will think of the Ivy League schools of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.

This widespread perception of Ivy League superiority is hard to ignore, even for people who are well aware that you can get a world-class education outside of these schools.

Take Chris Christie, for example. When the former New Jersey governor was helping his son Andrew consider his options, the question arose as to whether Christie would send his son to Princeton if he was accepted. After all, Christie’s alma mater was the University of Delaware, a school that had both served him well and provided him with cherished experiences.

Nevertheless, Christie felt that public perception was perhaps more important. He told Andrew that, even though he would receive a fine education if he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps, he would probably have to work harder to prove himself. So, even though he didn’t necessarily consider it fair, he advised his son to go to Princeton if they accepted him and to take advantage of the opportunities that came with the perception of Ivy League students being the best of the best.

In reality, however, successful people come from a wide range of schools, and certainly not just the Ivy League.

If we take a look at the people who were running Fortune 500 companies in 2014, only one CEO from the top ten businesses received their undergraduate degree from an Ivy League school. If we expand that number to look at the top 30 businesses, we’ll see more Ivy League representatives, but the list of alma maters continues to be diverse enough to include schools like the University of Minnesota, the University of Central Oklahoma and Penn State.

When we look at the top 100 companies on the Fortune 500 list, only 30 percent of US-born CEOs attended Ivy League schools. 

Sure, being accepted to an Ivy League school may give a student an advantage in life, but they’re far from being the only places producing successful adults.

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