College: It’s All Relative


Every year, the College Counseling Department hangs daisies on its win­dow. The name of a school is written in the center of the flower, while each petal bears the name of a student who will attend that school the fol­lowing year. Underclassmen, not yet knowing the trials and heartbreaks of the applica­tion process, stand in front of the window, admiring and sometimes even criticizing the schools. Phrases like “she must be so smart” or “that’s not a very good school” can be heard in front of this college collage. But what makes a school lesser than another school? Is there a difference between the very best school and the very best school for us?

For some, not recognizing the name of a school indicates a less prestigious university. And although this usually de­clines by the time we reach junior year, it persists among some. The belief that big-name schools are the best schools


could not be more wrong. How can we be the judge of what are the best schools? Everyone has a school that’s the best for them. A singer can be looking at completely different schools than an aspiring scientific re­searcher. Harvard may be a very well-known school, but a lesser-known school may have a stronger business program for a business major.

It’s hard to be understand­ing towards the seniors when ¾ of the school hasn’t even gone through the process yet. Even so, in the Upper School, we should practice empathy and avoid judgment. Hockaday has a 100 percent college atten­dance rate. It’s a privilege that we all get accepted into more than one college and have the opportunity to decide what college we want to attend.

The belief that we have to go to the best “big-name” school, not necessarily the best one for us, is almost in­nate. We learn in an environ­ment where we’re encouraged to do our best. Naturally, by the time we begin applying to colleges, this belief extends into our decision-making. Although we label universi­ties with our college counsel­ors, a school with the label of “safety” or “target” doesn’t make it a lesser-value school than “reaches.” This may seem simple, but it’s often con­fused. Depending on where we get in, do we go to a school considered top 10 in the na­tion for academics or go to the school that may be a “target” but would make us happier? We choose the latter. Regard­less of where we go, as long as we’re happy, we’ll find a way to be successful. We’re Hocka­day girls, after all.

– Elie MacAdams