Rankings vs Reality


Carina Marx

I know I sound bitter. I am. Before Early Decisions came out, the deans told the senior class what not to say to people during mid-December. No “You’ll totally get in.” No “Oh, it was a reach for you anyway.” No “Did you get rejected?” or anything of the sort. We understood —those comments can mean a lot when you’re talking about someone’s future.

After Early Decisions came out, we discovered who knew how to be sensitive and who didn’t. Those who didn’t soon learned not to be so brash and to respect people who had been rejected or deferred.

It’s been about a month now. Everyone has mostly stopped talking about who didn’t get in and who did, who deserved their acceptance and who didn’t, but there’s one thing we still cannot shut up about.

It’s the classic Harvard-Westlake stereotype. We only care about the numbers and rankings. We only care about the accolades.

So many of the schools that are considered by some as “backup schools” are completely unreasonable reaches to a different group of people.

We are given an insane amount of opportunity at this school — we have access to and chances at schools that anyone at a different school couldn’t dream of. Frankly, many of my classmates sound ridiculously pretentious.

We are lucky in a way that much of the world is not. Don’t take that for granted.

According to infoplease.com, there are 4,140 colleges or universities in the United States.

The difference between the first-ranked college and the 200th-ranked college is slimmer than you’d think.

The rankings are all subjective, too. Sure, there are clear differences between certain places, but when it comes down to the single or double digits, college rankings are almost arbitrary.

Many of the rankings are not just based on education but also endowments, class sizes and even size of the campus.

But numbers shouldn’t matter. Everyone is different. Some people want a different environment from the one we’re all in now.

Don’t get me wrong — it is absolutely a privilege to get the level of education we are getting.

Yet, some people feel stifled by the lack of social life they have because of their workloads or feel like the level of academic rigor is a bit too high for them.

They are not lesser than the people who are willing to apply to top level schools. They just have different opinions.

The reason why I have an issue with this is because I’m attending my top choice school next year. My close friends have all been very supportive of me, and I appreciate that endlessly.

But I’ve had the experiences where I’ve told some of my more distant friends and gotten responses that either pitied me or looked down on me.

“Oh, that’s nice.”

“Wow! That’ll be fun, I guess.”

All I’m saying is keep an open mind. We’re all different and want different things. Everyone should be allowed to go where they feel they will be happiest without any judgment about it.