There are plenty of people that have had wildly successful careers without attending prestigious colleges. They did so despite not because of the college they attended. My high school best buddy attended Morris County College in NJ for a year because his father would not pay for college until he proved himself. My friend hated being there so worked hard – a perfect 4.0 – to get into a “good college” That good college was critical in getting hired by a Wall Street firm. He took off from there.
In recommending The Learning Consultants services to a private school in Connecticut, a former client who had three of his children go through our SAT Prep classes, told his story to the Board of Trustees.
“I was the classic underachiever in high school. My grades were spotty. I did well in classes I liked and just ok in classes I didn’t like. In junior year, my far-sighted mom suggested I do SAT test prep. This was the 1980s. Few kids did test prep. But she was one of those Jewish moms who pushed their kids to success [note: he said with humor]and I found myself doing SAT prep every weekend for a few hours. She said and I soon realized that I could make up a lot of ground to compensate for my so-so grades if I had a great SAT score. I might have been above average at taking standardized tests but nothing special. But I worked at it and wound up with a 1420. I gained admission to Cornell. The only way I was hired as an investment banking analyst was because I came from an Ivy-league school and the rest, as they say, is history. The crazy thing is my success – or at least the size of my success – really could be traced back to doing well on the SAT.” He then kindly went on to note how our SAT programs did wonders for each of his children.
It is strange, perhaps unfair in its disproportionate impact, that college affects career paths so dramatically and, perhaps doubly unfair in its disproportionate impact, that SAT-ACT test scores do so for admission to college. But if you are a Connecticut parent of a high school junior, it also is reality.
Moreover, as weird as this sounds, the college your child attends is – as the kids put it – “their brand.” Strangely enough, I’ve had more students in recent years care about where they attend than their parents.
It matters. Good/bad. I don’t know. It just does.