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Where you go to college doesn’t matter

College learning isn’t all about the books.-(THINKSTOCK)

The month of April can either make college applicants sob or rejoice.But whatever the verdict rendered in the college decision letters they receive, there’s one thing they should keep in mind:

Five years from now, where they went to college probably isn’t going to matter much.

I would know.

My college application process was messy. Applying to theatre schools meant traveling to and extensively preparing for auditions, in addition to all of the research, paperwork, essays and tests.

The auditions were always brutally competitive and unenjoyable for anyone involved (even if we were being asked to move around an empty space pretending to be an animal of our choice).

So, I was very upset when I learned I’d have to miss my exclusive four-year senior bonfire at Blair Academy to attend one.

But something happened the weekend I auditioned in Chicago.

In an effort to cheer me up, my mentor — a Second City Toronto alum — secured tickets for me to see SC Chicago’s main stage show.

And suddenly, my acceptance to theatre school wouldn’t matter as much anymore…

In June 2006, I chose DePaul University in Chicago more for the fact that I could train and perform improvisation at Second City than for the education itself.

And I’ve never once regretted my decision.

Click here to read more from our Millennial Minded

So parents and mentors of college applicants — stop freaking out. Your college applicant has already made the right decision in choosing to go anywhere at all.

According to Time magazine, as many as 200 colleges across the U.S. today offer a similar level of education, faculty and facilities as Ivy League schools.

And according to a 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index, elite schools fared no better than less selective private and public schools in ensuring graduates’ well-being.

Which means that whatever college your applicant picks probably won’t affect their future employment or earnings much.

As long as they like the environment.

According to Reuters, graduates who strongly agreed with any of the following statements were nearly twice as likely to feel engaged (emotionally and intellectually connected) in their current jobs:

  • “I had at least one professor who made me excited about learning.”
  • “My professors cared about me as a person.”
  • “I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams.”
  • “I worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete.”
  • “I had an internship or job that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom.”
  • “I was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations while attending college.”

Only 3 percent of graduates who participated in the 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index agreed strongly with all six statements.

Overall, 39 percent of the college graduates polled felt engaged, but just 11 percent said they were thriving in five areas related to well-being: purpose, social connections, community and location, financial stability and physical health.

Think about it — did the level of education you received in college really shape who you are?

Or was it the clubs you were a part of, the social events you attended and the friendships, relationships and connections you made?

Do you actively utilize formulas and technical skills that you used in college every day in your job, or do you more often employ all the creative thinking, problem solving, prioritizing, social and leadership qualities you developed during your time in higher education?

So remember when helping your college applicant choose a college this month that college learning isn’t all about the books.

And if they’re truly distraught over not getting into their top choice, read how Siobhan O’Dell hilariously turned Duke University’s rejection into her own.

ALSO ON THE NJBIZ “MILLENNIAL MINDED” BLOG:


Millennials: The ‘I’ generation? How to avoid that dreaded letter at the start of every sentence

Insert foot directly in mouth: Professionalism and social media

Attitudes and actions of millennial employees across the globe

Meg Fry

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