Which school is the best?

I had an interesting conversation the other day. I was telling my friend how I received straight A’s this semester and a young man overheard us. He seemed shocked and said, “Wait, what college do you go to?” After telling him I went to FPU, he said, “Oh, that makes sense. I go to UC Davis.” Now maybe I am over-analyzing what was said, but it seems to me that this man thought UC Davis was a much harder school than Fresno Pacific, and so it was possible for me to get good grades at my school, but there’s no way I could do it at his school. As offended as I was, I kept my mouth shut and ignored him. But I feel like I need to say something about this because this was a huge issue that I dealt with when deciding on a college.

In high school, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to go to college. If you’re a bright student, parents and teachers urge you to attend UC’s or even Ivy Leagues. That’s why there are 10 year olds already studying for their SAT’s. It is an honor to go to a school in which only the top students in the country are accepted. It proves, or at least I thought it did, that you are smart. I dreamt of going to schools like UCLA or Stanford because those schools were for smart people.  The truth is, I probably could have gotten into several UC’s because I have always been a good student, but would they actually be more challenging? From my own experience and from what I’ve heard from others, college is difficult no matter where you go. I personally have been pushed very hard academically at FPU and that is very important to me. Just because certain colleges are more competitive to get into doesn’t mean they’re reserved for smarter people. The difficulty of classes will depend on your major and your professors. I have concluded that all colleges have an even mix of challenging classes and easier classes. There is no college that is “better” than the other.

I am sick of students being brainwashed into thinking they have to go to a certain school or they aren’t good enough to go to a certain school. I would advise students to choose the school that offers them the best all-around experience. That includes not only academics, but also experiences outside of the classroom. Is there enough to do on campus? Will this place help you grow physically, mentally and spiritually? Are the people nice? Will you be able to make relationships here? Those are some of the many questions I would ask when choosing a college.

All colleges have their pros and cons. For instance, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk into my professor’s office and chat over coffee at any given time if I went to a college with more students. However, my resume might look a bit more impressive if I graduated from a well-known school. In the end though, it doesn’t matter which college you go to, or even what grades you received. What’s most important is that you go to a place where you are challenged and inspired to do your absolute best. And if you’re lucky, sometimes you get to meet some pretty great people along the way.