As a Harvard alum and with her extravagant survey, Jennifer Breheny Wallace shares that college rankings and prestige don't account for success.
Parents and children often have one aim once high school ends and that is to get into a good college. According to most people, a good college is defined by its ranking, prestige offerings, employability rates, etc. Many parents are under the misconception that to succeed in life, one must go to the best college first. However, that is not the case. Author and journalist Jennifer Breheny Wallace–who goes by @jenniferbrehenywallace on Instagram–shared that there is no such thing as a “good” college. The author focuses on parenting and several related topics, such as raising children, understanding achievements and so on. In her video, Wallace explained, “Many of the students whom I interviewed for my book talked about what I call the college myth.”
Disclosing further, she explained that many students were stuck on the idea that “a good life begins with going to a good college.” Breaking the delusion and sharing facts, Wallace shared that the latter is not quite true. She used the example of adults to back her statement by saying that many adults are well aware that “where you go to college doesn’t lead to your well-being, career and success.” Wallace then revealed factors that matter and can affect one’s growth and success. “Who you are as a person, a worker, your work ethic, the support system you have around you, knowing what your strengths are and how to use them,” Wallace kept listing.
She added, “Knowing whom to lean on when you’re facing struggles and hurdles, those are the things.” She stressed that kids need to know and understand that the aforementioned factors lead to success and “not the brand name or rank of a college.” CNBC spoke with Wallace and shed light on her insights about the topic. “The first thing we need to do is get out of our heads that there is such a thing as a ‘good college,’” the author said. Wallace holds a degree from Harvard University and completed her book, “Never Enough: When Achievement Pressure Becomes Toxic And What We Can Do About It,” after working with a researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and surveyed over 6000 parents across the US.
Wallace further mentioned that she practices the idea herself in her home. She ensures that her kids know that college rankings are subjective and secondary to the previously mentioned factors when it comes to success. She also highlighted the need to deflate “that myth that college prestige is the secret to success.” Wallace also pointed out that more than having a prestigious college to go to, one must feel productive and have a sense of belonging on campus. She said that making the most out of the education one receives is more crucial than enrolling in a big college.
A 2014 report of students from the Gallup and Purdue Universities boiled down the main factor of success and said that it branched from the experiences one had on campus rather than the grandeur of the college. Wallace shared that she is careful about how she discusses the idea of college with her kids. She focuses on ensuring they know that “the idea of mattering on campus” comes before rankings and accreditation. Wallace added, “We can be deliberate about what actually leads to the good life we want for our kids, based on decades of science. And that is having good relationships, having purposeful work and feeling competent in those pursuits.”
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