18-15 Segment 2: The Overblown Importance of What College You Attend

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Today, more than ever, there is an immense amount of pressure put on high school students to attend either an Ivy League or another elite college. When students are not accepted to these kinds of colleges, it is devastating and they often feel that their success in life will be impacted tremendously.

Frank Bruni, columnist for The New York Times and author of Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, explains that this idea is just a myth that is perpetuated by the media. He states that if a politician or CEO attended an Ivy League or another elite college, the media will articulate this fact continuously throughout the profile. However, if they attended a smaller college or a state school, this detail is often excluded entirely. By only talking about a limited number of schools in the media, it reinforces the idea that only those who attend those schools will be successful in their future. Another idea that maintains the pretentious importance about the college that a student attends is the belief that people who have important jobs will only hire people who attended the same college as them. Bruni explains that this does happen, but that this should not deter a student from looking into other schools, as well.

However, Bruni does not think that students should completely avoid applying to Ivy League schools or elite schools. He explains that students should not solely rely on them, nor should they be upset if they do not get accepted because schools choose incoming freshman who meet their current needs, whether that is to fulfill a sports team, maintain alumni relations, or increase access to minorities. Furthermore, Joshua Steckel, a counselor at a New York high school and co-author of Hold Fast to Dreams, explains that there are even pitfalls to attending elite colleges if they are not a good fit for the student. These include day-to-day challenges, meeting financial obligations, and, for students of color or low-income students, being excluded by their peers. In order to ensure that a student attends a college that is suitable for their needs, it is important they learn about other options besides Ivy Leagues and elite colleges.

But, in order to encourage students to apply to smaller schools or schools that are not well-known, they need access to the resources to help them find these schools. Steckel explains that access to high school counselors is extremely limited–some schools have 1,000 students assigned to one counselor. Furthermore, he states that a lot of colleges have committed to accepting more low-income students and students of color, but these schools tend to not be well-known. So, many students would benefit from having a counselor to help guide them in finding these schools and through the college application process. But, Bruni explains that no matter what college a student attends, the results of their experience will be based on if they make the most of what the school has to offer. More privileged communities focus too much on getting students into top schools, rather than learning how to make the most of it. Students have the ability to thrive at any school and become successful after graduation, whether they attend an Ivy League or a state school, but what matters most is that they are taught how to.


  • Frank Bruni, columnist for The New York Times and author of Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania
  • Joshua Steckel, counselor at a New York high school and co-author of Hold Fast to Dreams

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Coming Up On Viewpoints 18-15



The Rise of Confrontational Politics

Politicians have always stirred up controversy as a way to get ahead. But no politician has ever done it as often, or as successfully as Donald Trump. What is the attraction to these high-conflict politicians, and how do they argue their ways to the top?

The Overblown Importance of What College You Attend

When a high school student isn’t accepted into the college of their dreams, it can be devastating. But we look at whether college choice really matters as much as we may think, and how students can thrive at smaller schools.

Culture Crash: Roger Ebert’s Legendary Criticism

Movie criticism these days typically boils down to numbers and general consensus. But when Roger Ebert was alive, he cultivated a following that considered his opinions and perspective above all else.

17-40 Segment 2: Non-Traditional Students


College is thought of as a ticket to a better life. Non-traditional students- those who go to college later in life- can face an uphill battle in their fight to obtain that ticket. We talk to Mike Rose from UCLA about accommodating these students.


  • Mike Rose, faculty member at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and author of the book Back to School: Why everyone deserves a second chance at education.

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17-34 Segment 2: The Overlooked Importance of College Professors


When choosing which college to attend, we often consider things like the school’s graduation rate or how successful its graduates are at landing jobs. Georgetown University Professor Jacques Berlinerblau says it’s even more important to examine professors — what their roles are, how they interact with students, and the involvement in their curriculum.

Berlinerblau notes that professors can make or break a student’s college experience. Many professors do not give their undergraduate students enough attention. Berlinerblau describes this situation as a ‘nationwide crisis’ because he feels too many people spend too much money on uninterested professors. He believes that only 10-25% of professors truly value undergraduate teaching.

Berlinerblau suggests finding colleges with smaller class sizes. This allows for more student-professor interaction and can improve students’ grades tremendously. Additionally, he suggests browsing college websites for concrete evidence of professor-undergraduate pairing to make sure your incoming college student can receive proper attention for the next four years.


  • Jacques Berlinerblau, Georgetown University professor and author of Campus Confidential: How college works, or doesn’t, for professors, parents, and students

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16-49 Segment 1: Does Where You Go To College Matter?

college graduation ceremony


High school graduates who plan to go on with their education are making plans to head off to college this fall. Not all of them were accepted to the college that was their first choice, and many are disappointed about it. Some young people didn’t get into college at all because they weren’t offered the help they needed to find a college that suited them financially and culturally. We talk to an author and to a high school counselor about the myths surrounding acceptance to an “elite” college, why a small or state school can be a better fit, and how high school counselors can better serve diverse and often financially strapped students.

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15-33 Segment 2: Kids and Financial Intelligence


Synopsis: Millions of young people will soon head out on their own for the first time to attend college or start their first job. It will also be the first time that many of them are in charge of their own finances. How literate are they about banking, spending, saving, and credit? We talk to two financial specialists about what kids need to know about money and budgets, the best ways to organize their finances, and what they can do to prevent going into credit debt.

Host: Marty Peterson. Guests: Dean Obenauer, Assistant Director of Financial Aid for Financial Literacy, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska; Jeff Reeves, Executive Editor, InvestorPlace.com.


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15-23 Story 2: The Empty Nest: How to cope when the kids leave for good

Synopsis: When the last child leaves home for college, marriage or that first job, parents are often sad and at loose ends about how the rest of their lives will progress. We talk to a therapist and author who’s experienced her own children leaving home, about the emotions of “the empty nest” and what parents can do to reframe their lives when the children go out on their own.

Host: Marty Peterson. Guest: Wendy Aronsson, psychotherapist and author of “Refeathering the Empty Nest.”

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