Getting Into a Good College Shouldn't be the End Goal
Updated: Aug 1, 2020
March 14, 2020
Today, high school students carry a lot of stress because of the pressure to get into a "good" college. The pressure put on students to get high GPAs, standardized test scores, and be a part of extracurriculars have pushed students to the limits. In the midst of this chaos, students should ask themselves,
“Why do I want to go to college?” and “What do I want to do with a college degree?”
In life, pausing to seek clarity for our purpose and define strategy accordingly is a healthy habit. It allows our mind and body to connect, in order to feel more grounded. On the other hand, when we follow the crowd without asking the “why”, we can feel disconnected and anxious, which could lead to a lot of stress. Getting into a good college shouldn’t be the end goal. As a matter of fact, it’s just the beginning or a place for many young people to shape their goals in life. It’s far more important that they understand why they want to go to college rather than getting into a specific college. When I was in high school, I fell into the trap of checking all the boxes in order to get into the college of my first choice, without much idea of “what I want to do in life”. I was a high school valedictorian, went to one of the top colleges in China, and received an MBA from one of the best business schools in the world. However, my success in school didn't lead to success in life. To excel in school, you follow the rules and meet a very defined standard of success (e.g. standardized tests).
However, to succeed in life, you must branch beyond a test and learn to apply your knowledge in ways that can't be taught. It took me years to realize this.
During my time in college, I felt lost in life and wasted precious years that I could have used to achieve my goals. Learning from my own experience, I want my daughters to always ask the “why” first. I want them to think independently and critically. If they believe going to college is necessary for what they want to do in life, then they have clarity. I know once they have that clarity, which college they end up going doesn’t really make much of a difference. Besides, you can’t really control which college you will be accepted into. So focus on what you can control, and let the process play out.