Recently, I was working with one of my favorite students. She is a top student at Daniel Hand High School in Madison. She’s not one of my favorites because of her intelligence. Instead, I admire her work ethic. She put in the effort to earn top grades and top SAT/ACT scores. She’s also a really “good” kid who helps others and is kind to all.
She was stressed about college. She will gain admission to numerous excellent schools on her college list. She knows she’ll get in somewhere pretty good. The source of her stress was the uncertainty of where she’ll wind up next year.
Here’s what I know from my work and from my own experience: most of the schools that can be characterized as “good”. Much of what makes the college experience so amazing is fairly similar among a wide range of schools.
Meeting people from all over the country and world, making friendships, developing independence, taking interesting classes, living in a new place, and doing all those “crazy college things” occurs at most 4 year colleges that attract people outside of Connecticut.
I remember graduating from Georgetown and like my classmates thinking that Georgetown was uniquely great. I had a wonderful experience at Georgetown but I soon discovered that I would have had a similarly wonderful experience at many schools. Right after college, I headed to law school at Penn. I was a Graduate Fellow which put me living in an undergraduate dorm. I soon saw the college experience from the eyes of freshmen at Penn. I realized that it was very similar to my experience at Georgetown. Swap DC for Philadelphia and some other relatively minor areas of significance and I might have left Penn as an undergrad thinking it was uniquely great.
I told my student to relax because wherever she was heading would be uniquely great for her.