Debunking myths of prestige. While the cut-offs play a quintessential role, do you chase the name or the best suited college experience for you? Read on to know about how to find your fit.
We grow up with a certain aura around us, with an unenforced pressure by our near and dear ones to always make life choices that are seen as lucrative and somewhat even prestigious. As teenagers straight out of high school, we do as we’ve learnt– strive for the best, and as the first major life decision that we as young adults take, we tend to make one that pleases not just us, but all around us as well.
Tree leaves give visual indications every fall, adapt to their surroundings and change color. They do as their environment deems them to. The college is our environment, and we are nothing but trees, our leaves changing colors with every opportunity thrown at us. But the one thing we don’t realize is the extent to which it affects us, for better or for worse. The environment is our habitat: our friends, teachers, campus, location, and every other factor you can think of. So, in order to make our trees bloom, it’s important to pick a place most suitable for us. A place with the most favorable conditions for our growth.
Through years of high school, we’re convinced to believe that our lives are only ‘set’ if one gets into a prestigious institution, that most firms don’t even hire from tier-2 colleges, that the ranking and the value are all the same. We’re always told about how university life is the much awaited ‘breather’ after slogging through high school – a complete myth (to say the least). Though the textbook weight of your backpack reduces significantly, just getting into the college of your dreams isn’t a ticket to infinite freedom and happiness. A college tag comes with an undeniable level of prestige, but just because its name is high up in the rankings, doesn’t necessarily make it suitable for you.
“On joining SRCC, I was a champion in the eyes of all around me. Though I was overjoyed to have joined the best college for commerce, I felt claustrophobic. I never wanted to go to North Campus, let alone a co-ed college. 3 months into tirelessly trying, I knew I had made a mistake, and for 3 years, I regretted it, even with all the perks it had to offer.”Kriti, an alumnus of the Shri Ram School of Commerce, Delhi University (DU)
The difficulty of getting into a college doesn’t equate with the quality of experiences you receive from there. It takes hard work and effort to get admitted, but that does not guarantee the ideal college experience you pictured. When thinking about picking a college, think about what you really want from it, not the other way around. Visit the campuses if you can. Interact with the current students, experience the buzz in the canteen and other common areas, take a feel of the vibe the campus gives out. If in your home city, think about the proximity from your residence. All these factors might seem inconsequential at first, but in the long run, they are what make college home, so see if you can be yourself while in it. Align the interests of the college with yours, they don’t need to match entirely, but there’s no harm in finding some commonalities.
“When I was joining societies in college, I was extremely disheartened by the fact that the western dance society wasn’t very active. They would perform occasionally, but not enthusiastically. It was as if they were forced to do so. Being a trained dancer myself, I was taken a back since dancing is something that completes me. Not having dance as a part of my college life turned out to be a major setback for me.”Anonymous
There’s more to a college than just its classroom and teaching faculty. Clubs and societies happen to be one of the biggest parts of the college experience. They span over an extensive range of interests to choose from. You not only broaden your skill set, but also increase your connections and even come out as an all rounder. One that can balance the academic pressure with activities beyond.
Though most colleges more or less offer the same set of societies, and since most students already know which ones they want to choose even before the admissions, it’s imperative to do your research on them well in advanced. There’s no given that a society of X college would be as active or even as aligned with you as the same society in college Y. So, make sure you pick a college where your hobbies and interest don’t get ignored.
“I picked my college over the course I wanted to pursue. It seemed to be going well initially, but now I just feel like I’m constantly behind than my other classmates. I have little understanding of this subject, and I feel like it doesn’t align with my career prospects as well. I wish I had joined a college with the course of my liking.”Ishaan, a current Undergraduate Student
Another popular mistake most students tend to make is choosing the brand name of the college over their desired course. While sometimes it’s alright to deviate from the subject of your choice a little, choosing the college over course is not ideal, especially when the course offered and the course desired are polar opposites of each other. This causes agony in the future and significantly hampers growth.
In 2018, I picked a university, and as much as I can justify my research, I’d be lying if I said that my main reason for picking it wasn’t its fancy reputation, notable alumni, and the vast future prospects that it offered me. Though I was sure that it was the best for me, the minute I set foot on its grounds, I knew that maybe it wasn’t. Though my reason for leaving it was medical and far from this realization of mine, 2019 changed my outlook towards picking a college completely. It just brought me to believe in one thing – it’s more important to pick a place that’s a better fit for you, vs. the one that is higher up in the leader boards. That’s what I did the second time around. Picking the experience over rank was easily my best decision yet.
Reading up and thinking about those people who are riding on success and living a joyous life, you’re likely to find some astonishing results. College pedigree is not what made them that way. It’s the experiences they encountered whilst in college, coupled with their personalities and individual traits. That’s exactly what employers, or even post graduate schools are looking for. When people say that your college shapes you, they aren’t wrong. Being ones first stint out of the cocoon that is school, your encounters and ways of dealing with situations in college are what groom your personality. It’s a proven fact – students attending colleges where they feel like they don’t belong – either because they’re too academically rigorous, socially stifling or even because of a campus which feels alien to them -are more likely to struggle, stress, and have their personalities shaped negatively.
Thinking about the stressful admission season, even more so because of Covid, make sure to consider these points. No college is really the perfect fit. It’s just simply about what suits you and what doesn’t. Where you have opportunities that fascinate you and where you can take advantage of those, because they don’t automatically fall into your lap. Ultimately, it’s the good fit that leads to good outcomes. College is what you make of it, the brand of the college is not what makes you.
Feature Image Credits: Sourced