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Friday, July 13, 2007

Post-Tribune
Merrillville, Indiana

Educated Advice Columnist
Gerald M. Bradshaw

You don't need Ivy League to succeed in life



If you haven't seen the movie "Accepted" it's a funny story about not getting into college. Poor Bartley Gaines gets turned down from every college to which he applies. Rather than admit his failure to his parent, he makes up a fake college, where he gets in.

Parents fork over the cash for tuition, books and a good time. It's like "Legally Blond," "Valley Girl" and "Caddy Shack" all rolled into one.

Why did I like it?

Because it makes fun of all the rigmarole we put ourselves through, trying to get accepted to the right college.

For 12 years these kids have studied late, joined clubs, played sports and participated in extracurricular activities. Every minute of spare time is accounted for. They know what it is like to feel the weight of "expectation" on their shoulders.

"Accepted" is like a backlash against the system.

It is hard for parents to appreciate the pressure that can build up in children over these activity- packed years. College consultants, SAT tutor's, and time-management" experts are brought in by parents to give their teens an edge over the competition.

I have a client in Southern California who hired Sylvan Learning to teach her son better organization skills. He's in the 7th grade!

What many parents and students must understand is, not every child can make it to the top level. That doesn't mean they are condemned to a lifetime of failure.

Time magazine published an article last year titled, "Who Needs Harvard." The story chronicled several student who turned down schools in the Ivy League for lesser-known colleges and universities. The reasons for turning them down varied. They ranged from higher offers of financial aid to better access to professors. Some students even hoped the pressure to perform would be less severe at a "second tier" school.

In my experience, I would guess that many students were simply burned out. They want to go to a college where they could enjoy learning.

The Time article pointed out that recent studies have shown that students accepted to top colleges, but choosing instead to attend a less "prestigious" school were no worse off when it came to future earnings. The incomes remained the same, regardless of where they attended.

Many parents are unaware that almost 3,000 valedictorians applied to Harvard last year.

Is it worth the price of admission over a top in-state school such as Purdue or Indiana University? Not if you turned down Harvard. Future income potential stays about even for these students.

I had clients turn down Harvard for IU, Purdue and Washington University, St. Louis last year. Scholarship money was the top reason for their decisions, followed by not wanting the pressure of competing all over again for four more years.

The moral of the story is not to take every failure to get into a top school as the turning point in your life.

If you are among the "chosen" few to make it into the Ivy League, consider there are plenty of opportunities to study elsewhere that might, indeed, be a better fit.

Contact Gerald Bradshaw, The US States Top college consultant. One-on-one college consulting. Get help with the college application essay. Make you dream of being admitted into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania a reality.

Toll Free: 866-687-8129
gerald_bradshaw@post.harvard.edu

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