If you were to look up “college admissions anxiety”, you would be met with countless pages. Links with titles like “6 Ways to Fight College Application Stress” and “How to Deal With Application Anxiety”. At every step of the college admissions process, students are plagued with uncertainty. One wrong step could trigger a landmine that could blow their future to bits. From as early as ninth grade, parents tell their kids that they will have to start worrying about their grades for college admissions, before they even know if attending college is something that they even want to do, before they really understand what college will mean for them. The fault for this does not lie in the parents. They just want their children to succeed within the system that they live in—but in the attitude towards college itself.
Right now, it’s where you go to school that decides your future, not the education you get while you’re enrolled. A bad grade in ninth grade will not prevent you from going to a college, but it might blow Harvard or Penn or Yale out of the water. And right now, that is what matters. No matter what institution you go to, it is possible to find a way to pass and graduate. When you go out into the world, it is the watermark on your diploma that employers are looking at. not the classes you took. Actual qualifications mean much less when someone can say they went to Georgetown University, after all.
This is what makes that anxiety feel more like a despair. Someone can go to a lower ranked college and come out of it with the knowledge and readiness to work in a high-speed corporate environment, but not get a second glance. Instead of the classes you took in college providing a starting point for your career, all that really matters is where you got admitted, based on the grades you had starting when you were 14 years old. And because of that, the reality is that a lot of employers are looking at where people went to school but are not satisfied with their performance when those recruits get there.
What if we had a system where people said “this kid has these skills,” not “this kid went to this college”?