The College Race: “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be”

By Eric Niles, Head of School

As another college admissions season comes to a close, I was so pleased to see this article about Frank Bruni’s new book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be in the New York Times. I watch the anxiety of our students—and I think we are calm and balanced compared to many other schools—and I just know there is a better way to welcome our seniors happily into the world of college and beyond.  Please read this article and then think about the people you most respect in this world.  Where did they go to college?  Did they all go to some “top-ranked” (whatever that means) school?  Do you even know or care where they went to school, or do you care more about what they have accomplished?

There are thousands of great schools in this nation and any number of them are great matches for our kids.  Might the best match be one of the most competitive schools?  Of course, but let the match and the desires of the individual student, not some ranking, drive that decision. As Andrew Delbanco summarizes in his review of Bruni’s book, “[Bruni] wants to remind young people that what they get from college has almost everything to do with the attitude they bring to it and almost nothing to do with where it stands in the pecking order of prestige.” Once a match is made, then the magic happens when our children are surrounded by professors and peers that share their passions.

And as Bruni argues, where you go to college is just not who you will be.  No matter where your child goes after Athenian, I can say with confidence that they will be poised for a life of intellectual exploration and meaningful contribution.  They will do well and they will do good in this world.  As an Athenian graduate, that is who they will be.

With great respect, Eric