Frank Bruni’s new book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania looks great, especially for upper and upper-middle class parents currently biting their nails over whether Junior will get into Princeton. For the rest of you, let me explain: Over the next few weeks, tens of thousands of “fat envelopes” (acceptances) and hundreds of thousands of “thin envelopes” (rejections) will be mailed all across the country to high school seniors hoping to get into a couple dozen of the most elite universities. The belief is that if you get into one of these schools, you’re set. After four years of hobnobbing, partying, and anxiety-driven studying, you can count on a cushy job and a clear path to a corner office. While relatively few Americans live out the extreme forms of “college admissions mania,” many more have bought into some form of this pervasive mythology. The truth? How successful a person becomes, financially and otherwise, depends far more on the person than his or her alma mater.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.
That belief is wrong. It’s cruel. And in WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE, Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes.
Bruni, a bestselling author and a columnist for the New York Times, shows that the Ivy League has no monopoly on corner offices, governors’ mansions, or the most prestigious academic and scientific grants. Through statistics, surveys, and the stories of hugely successful people who didn’t attend the most exclusive schools, he demonstrates that many kinds of colleges-large public universities, tiny hideaways in the hinterlands-serve as ideal springboards. And he illuminates how to make the most of them. What matters in the end are a student’s efforts in and out of the classroom, not the gleam of his or her diploma.
Where you go isn’t who you’ll be. Americans need to hear that-and this indispensable manifesto says it with eloquence and respect for the real promise of higher education.
This Washington Post article introduces the book’s themes a bit more.