Undergrad school names too important in students’ minds

January 6, 2011 — by Sabrina Cismas and Aanchal Mohan

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year for most, but for seniors, it’s a time of nail-biting and anxiety as they begin anticipating the results of their applications to college. Students refer to days as Yale-day or Columbia-day, based on the life-changing letters that they will find in their mailboxes that day. However, is this all necessary?

The undergraduate college that you go to will not haunt you forever. Most students don’t know what career they want as undergraduate freshmen or the type of graduate school they want to go to.
When graduate schools look at applications, they are looking to accept the student, not his or her school. What a student achieves in his or her undergraduate years—good grades, research internships, volunteering and high marks on their graduate school entrance exams, such as the
MCAT for medical school—far exceed the caliber of school ranking.

Students need to choose colleges that will suit these needs and help them achieve these goals. According to Businessweek Magazine, graduate schools will only resort to looking at the ranking of an undergraduate institution when the students lack these criteria, especially when no work experience is present. One can be sure that graduate admissions officers will not put special interest in an application from an Ivy-league student that is dotted with C’s and D’s.

Wanting to get into a prestigious undergraduate school should not be frowned upon, yet the amount of pressure placed on students to attend one is overwhelming and influences many to believe that getting into a good undergraduate college is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful life.

Undergraduate college is like freshman year in high schools. Students are taught the basics that will prepare them for future courses, but the degree of importance of these general education courses is, in the large scale, minuscule. Students should set their sights on school ranking more in graduate education, because this is when they have narrowed their focus on what profession they want to pursue. The specialized courses that they take in graduate school, which target their chosen area of expertise, are the ones that take on a defining role in laying out one’s future. Students who are so concerned about their lives after all schooling should perhaps take this into account before sweating too much over their applications to their undergraduate colleges.

According to Forbes magazine, “Where you go to [undergraduate] school is not as important as what you bring to the school where you go.” In the end, a student should attend a college based on what suits them as a person and student, not on previously formed opinions made far too quickly and prematurely.

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