Here’s Why You Should Stop Stressing Over College Applications


Applying for college can be a daunting process, so it makes sense to aim for schools that can offer the best education. As a result, you may feel pressure to make the cut for some of the more elite schools. The more selective the college, the higher quality of education, right?

What if you stopped stressing over college applications and considered other factors as you searched for the right school? You may not need to attend elite colleges to increase your chances of success.

What the Research Says

It’s common knowledge that some of the most powerful, highest-income individuals have graduated from elite colleges. It’s no surprise that many college applicants believe they can earn more money and become more successful if they graduate from a high-end institution. But according to research, the school you attend might not have as much impact as it seems.

A report released in 2002 suggested that a student who attends an elite school is likely to make the same income as a student who goes to a lesser-known school. It’s a student’s SAT score, not the college, that predicts their success. This means many students gain the same benefits at schools with higher acceptance rates as they would at super-fancy, elite institutions. And ultimately, the gap in earnings may not even be significant enough to make the extra stress and college expenses worth it.

Effects on Low-Income Students

One exception to the above findings may be low-income minority students. The 2002 study reported that people from under-served communities may gain an advantage by being accepted into an elite school. This isn’t necessarily because they’ll receive a better education than they would at another school — rather, it’s because of the additional connections and resources they’ll have access to.

These resources and connections could open doors into higher-paying positions that might not otherwise be available. However, attending an elite institution still doesn’t guarantee a person more income than they would earn with an education from any other school.

A more recent study published in 2018 came to the same conclusions as the 2002 analysis. It also found that elite college attendance has a significant impact on today’s women. The better the college, the more likely they are to earn more income over the course of their lives. They also tend to wait longer for marriage.

Follow Your Passions

Sure, you can apply to elite schools if you want to. But there are many other options, including state and private schools, which could offer you an education that’s just as valuable. As long as you apply yourself in school, you have an opportunity to build a career path that satisfies you both financially and personally.

Ultimately, what matters most is finding a college that offers programs and degree options that interest you. If you’re chasing after your goals and major priorities, there’s no need to deal with the stress of complex, selective elite college applications.

College is about finding out what’s important to you and choosing what you want out of life. These are both possible no matter which school you attend, so focus on applying to the places that resonate with you. One of them could be the beginning of the career of your dreams.

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