Does Your Choice In a College Really Matter In The Long Run?

Kaleigh M January 15th 2016 Lifestyle
It is more than likely that life has conveyed to you that your future success will stem from the college you attend. In fact, it is more common than not that students work tirelessly in high school believing this theory. However, contrary to popular belief, you are much more likely to complete schooling and earn a degree if you don’t pick your top - or “dream" - school. This phenomenon is known as “Big Fish Little Pond.” This idea is identified when individuals compare themselves to the people who are around them rather than to society as a whole. In the same way, students at top schools compare themselves to their overachieving peers. Lower achieving students at higher acclaimed schools still have feelings of inadequacy when in fact, they are above average according to society. In the same way, this phenomenon applies to education and academic performance.
Simply put: one is much more likely to earn a degree if attending a school other than your top choice or “goal school.” If one is not attending the most pressure-filled and overachieving school, the student has a chance to achieve - or even overachieve. A scientific study was conducted - testing the rates of degree completion in association with the school’s average SAT Test Score - which applies this same idea. This study compares tests between an “average” university and Harvard - known as a very high achieving institution. At an “Average” School, the top ranking SAT Score of 569/800 accounted for individuals with a 55% graduation rate, while the low score (referred to as those who would have a tougher time in school) of 400/800 only represented about 18% of those who graduated. On the other hand, those with the lowest average SAT Scores attending Harvard (scoring a 581/800), were deemed “not as smart” even though their scores are still technically higher than the highest average at the other school. This demonstrates the creation of pressure from the environment of acclaimed institutions, in addition to ignoring their academic success compared to “Average” Schools. Although science backs up this phenomenon, there is a mixed formula for success among individuals that applies to one’s choice for schooling.
The Big Fish, Little Pond Phenomenon can also be explained in relation to average of an individual’s happiness. It is most likely that individuals determine normality of their happiness to the average joy or sadness of those around them. For example, this phenomenon is most likely to occur to an individual feeling depressed, specifically in a country who labels itself as a “happy country.” Suicide rates increase in such “happy” countries as Switzerland, Denmark, and Canada because those feeling depressed feel out of the ordinary and lost. On the other hand, there are some countries that have established themselves as “unhappy countries.” Such countries include Italy, Greece, and Spain, and there - it is the norm to be unhappy. Feeling different than the those around you results in feelings of being inadequate, unhappiness, and failure. Feeling different than those around you can - in simpler words - make you feel overwhelmed in such a “little pond” facing limited variation.


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