Editor’s note: A version of this post was originally published on Admitted in December 2017. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.
Feeling stressed about the college application process? Take heart.
“There are plenty of great schools in this country, and what matters much more than how they are ranked is how you make use of their resources,” Michael S. Roth, president of Wesleyan University (CT), writes in a recent column published by The Washington Post.
He continues: “When I talk to seniors and recent graduates from schools of all kinds and in various parts of the country, I find that it matters little how difficult it was to get admitted to that school and that it matters a great deal how hard they worked while attending it.”
Roth, author of the recently published Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, went on to offer these tips to incoming college freshmen.
1: Don’t just take classes in subjects where you know you’ll excel. Use your undergraduate years to discover what you truly love. “It’s not just about the reward of good grades or a hefty paycheck. It’s about thriving—and especially about thriving through work,” Roth noted.
2: Get better at the things you love to do. “After discovering what one finds rewarding, one should use the resources of the school to get much better at it,” he said. “…You don’t go to school to be told how smart you are; you go to find out how much more you have to learn.”
3: Share what you’ve learned. “Students who get the most out of college have enhanced their abilities to translate what they’ve learned on campus so that people beyond its borders understand how they can add value to an organization, a team, or a company.”
So, instead of obsessing about getting into “the best school,” Roth suggests college-bound teens take some time to reflect on the opportunities that lie ahead —no matter where they end up attending.
“With support from their families, students should instead focus on preparing themselves for the adventure of discovering what they love to do, getting better at it, and learning to share it with others,” Roth said.
Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.