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It’s that time of the year again. The time when a flood of relatives leave you with a landslide of advice and all around you your parents, friends and even the media sets off a tornado of expert opinion leaving you totally at sea. Yes, I see the irony in what I’m doing now but I’ll risk it to add my two penny worth of debris to the maelstrom.

You have a life altering decision to make. So you open a thousand websites, read countless articles, scrutinise tons of placement reports, call that senior whose number your mother got from the neighbour who got it from someone in her kitty party. After all college selection is a decision of a lifetime.

The only problem?

A college is more than the sum total of its placements, packages, faculty and infrastructure. These are all a part of it, not the whole of it. What the ranking systems, numerous expert opinions and advisors miss is that when you choose a college you choose the source of at least 80% of your experiences for the next five years. You choose an ethos and a culture. An ethos you’ll live by and a culture you’ll hopefully contribute to. And there is no ranking system for that. You choose your companions and your competition and expert advice really cannot capture the spirit of that. College and in reality, much of real life too, is filled with people like you, confused, scared and suffering from an information overload. We are all just following our instincts and I suggest you do the same.

I went through the same charade of weighing the pros and cons. Single occupancy v. shared rooms. Olympic pools v well…nothing. Strict curfew times v. relaxed ones. The go-getter VC v. the relaxed one. I’ve done it all. Then I got fed up of constantly second guessing and chucked it all out of the window and went with my instincts. I haven’t regretted anything or looked back since then.

What you make of these five years is yours alone. The ‘Age of Competition’ has narrowed our vision to looking at college as a quick route to a fat pay package. It’s not. You’re coming to college to learn. You have the rest of your life to earn. So when you make this decision, remember to consider the greatest wildcard. You.   

Think of law school as a diving board and the professional world ahead as the swimming pool. Now, a ‘better’ college just means having a ‘higher’ platform to dive off of, while a ‘lesser’ college means it takes more hard work to make your way around in the pool. Eventually however, all diving boards lead to the pool. It doesn’t matter where you dive from because we all have to end up in the same pool and thrash around anyway. And in the pool it never matters if you knew how to dive, it only matters if you know how to swim.

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