Does it matter where you go to college?


“I don’t know if I’ll get accepted.”

“I will go to the most prestigious school that I get accepted to.”

“That’s just a party school.”

“I have to go to U of M.”

These are only a few of the many phrases that I have heard echoing through the school hallways over the past months. I have heard countless whispers of students claiming that the most prestigious university is always the best option. 

Is this true?

A few days ago, while walking in the hallway, I heard a girl say that it did not matter to her where she went to college because she knew that she would be happy wherever she ended up. Now, I don’t know if this was just a coincidence in the sense that this girl was abnormally positive about everything or if she really had a point. 

In the following days, this was pressing in my own thoughts about college. 

It seems that many of us are under the impression that the university that is the “hardest to get into” is always the best choice if we are one of those lucky students to get accepted. I am no stranger to this belief. Throughout middle school and most of high school, I assumed that if you got into U of M, that was the place to go. Anybody who wants to be anybody goes to U of M, right? 


As much as students and parents may desire the prestige and recognition that comes from attending a top university, there are drawbacks to this as well. Students’ success is not determined simply from what university their diploma has typed above their name but rather the opportunities that they take and how they spend their time at that university. 

Think of it like this: Student A attends a top university but has to devote all of his free time to studying to keep up, drowns himself in loans that he can never repay after graduation, and is completely and utterly stressed out for his whole four years at the college. Conversely, Student B attends an accredited, well-ranked university, has time for a social life while keeping high marks, graduates with minimal loans to repay, and thoroughly enjoys every opportunity that he took advantage of during his four years of college. Who is going to be more successful and ready for “real life”? My money is on Student B. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, if you can attend a top university and still achieve all of the things that Student B did, then a distinguished school could be the perfect fit for you. But, if you only choose to attend a school based on its “prestige,” then maybe you should reconsider why it is that you are actually attending that university. Is it because you are really passionate about a program that they offer or an opportunity that they provide, or are you only going there because you heard that it was a good school and it would impress your classmates?

In the end, each senior is required to make the decision that is right for them, and hopefully, most of them do. 

Since it is one of the first really big life decisions that students have to make, different seniors have had different approaches to the task at hand. While that girl from the hallway knew that she would thrive anywhere, other seniors have resorted to charts, lists, and graphs to aid them in making the right decision. 

But, is there really a right decision? Like the girl from the hallway said, it doesn’t matter where you go. And, I think she is right.

I have spent the last three months agonizing over where I will be next year, what I will study, and what school is the best fit for me. The whole process would have been a lot easier, though, had I started this process with the mindset that I would be happy no matter where I chose to go. 

Whether we feel ready to make this decision or not, we have just under two months to finally commit to a school to attend in the fall. 

Some of us will attend community colleges. Some of us will attend state schools. Some of us will attend prestigious or even Ivy League schools. And, we all will have a reason for attending our chosen school. 

One thing that many seniors may fail to remember, though, is that it is not really what the school makes of you but rather what you make of the school.