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Elise Gout

Find the Harvard for Yourself

As we are approaching May 1, there are a few things that are happening. First, seniors across the nation are figuring out their homes for the next four years of their lives. And second, juniors are looking at said seniors and thinking, “Oh my gosh, guess I oughta get started.” To put it frankly: there is a whole lot of existentialism up in here right now. I’m not about to claim being incredibly qualified in giving advice (although I won for “Best Spirit” in YMCA singing camp…), but here’s my two cents about the college search.


Cent 1: Prioritize Yourself

The ranking that you should be most concerned with is that of your own happiness. It’s so, so easy to be caught up in reputations, in the list placements as given out by [insert any credible institution here]. Yes, of course there’s something to be said for a school’s “prestige,” but prestige does not (and never will) completely equate to satisfaction. The college that you will be most successful at is the college that best fits you, regardless of how renowned it is.

It’s a personal decision – picking your school. You are the one who will be learning there for four years. You are the one who will be growing there for four years. And four years is a long stretch to just “get through it.”

Cent 2: Remember that Apples aren’t Oranges


One of the worst traps you can fall into during your later years at high school is drawing comparisons. “Did you here such-and-such got in here? But so-and-so didn’t?” It’s poison, I’m telling you. Once you make your college decision, let yourself be proud of it. Let yourself get excited for it. And give your peers the chance to do the same.

If people ever have the audacity to question your decision, or if you ever have the audacity to see yourself as “less than” based on where you will be going, remember that college is what you make it. It’s an overwhelmingly cliché statement (I warned you I’m not some professional advice-giver), but that’s because, in a lot of ways, it’s true.

Furthering your education is a special gift; as much as it is about hitting those textbooks and landing that perfect job, it’s also about self-discovery. Exploration. New people and new experiences. I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that those things will come more easily in the environment you truly enjoy. So sport that school swag with confidence because this is the time where you have every right to thrive.


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About Elise Gout

Elise writes articles for the Magoosh SAT blog to help teenagers during an exciting time in their lives. Despite residing in Southern California, where she attends San Dieguito Academy high school, she has no surfing abilities whatsoever; it’s actually rather sad. She is your typical senior high school girl who sword fights daily, and is pretty much convinced that bananas are a food sent from heaven. Elise will attend Columbia University next fall to study environmental science.

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