Stop Measuring Your Potential (And Current) Success by the Academic Institution You Attend

I used to be one of those students who believed that Ivy Leagues were the only places to receive a good education. Additionally, I thought that having associations with institutions like those could provide me with a “reasonable” sense of power and superiority over my peers. Well truthfully, I actually never cared for some of the Ivies such as Harvard because of the baggage that came along with it. Instead, I had my mind set on attending an unclaimed “Ivy” that was no other than Duke University.

I don’t know why, but over the course of my high-school career, Duke became the pinnacle of all my academic hopes and dreams. I used to imagine myself walking around the cobblestoned campus, adorned in the iconic Duke blue from head to toe. As I would walk towards wherever I was heading, I would hear my named being called out and see some friends off in the distance. I would give a friendly wave, and before I could put my hand down, I would hear a professor commend me by saying ” You did such a great job on your presentation yesterday!” Now I can tell you that none of these dreams ever came to be. None of my ideas were outlandish, but I shouldn’t have created that dogma of what my life as a college student should have been.

It is safe to say that I never enrolled at Duke University, but I also never applied there (that’s another story I can get into later). Instead, for my freshman year of college, I walked into the local State University that was less than 10 miles from my home. My experience there was not anything that I ever imagined, and was much better than I initially thought! Since starting there I have done so many things that I would have never thought possible. As a freshman, I got involved in research and since then I’ve gotten the chance to present my work at national and international conferences. These opportunities were really amazing because I didn’t have to pay much from my own pockets, since my university subsidized all of the major costs (flights, hotel, etc.). Additionally, I did win a travel award from one conference I attended (which also looks really good on a resume)! In the summer of my freshman year, I got to spend a couple weeks as an intern at a national laboratory and even pocketed some good money in my short time there! Additionally, over the course of my freshman year I was awarded three scholarships for all of my hard work!

To make it short, I used to equate my potential and current success with the institution I would attend, but the facts have shown me that ideology simply is not true. Rather than aiming for a “prestigious” logo that can be sported, seek to make awesome achievements that can truly reveal the scholar who is within you.


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