Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be by Frank Bruni

Let me start this review saying this: everything in this book is fairly accurate, or at the very least, I agree with most everything presented in this book. I am a big believer in higher education, but I definitely believe that Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, etc. are completely overrated. Anyone who strives to be an Ivy Leaguer is simply looking for prestige over education.

Is a degree from Ivy League U. equal to a Large State U.? Probably not, unfortunately. Elite schools do attract elite professors and crazy rich alumni which give Ivy League students more opportunities.

Should the same degree from one university be valued higher than another? It shouldn’t. The problem here, apparently, is we value the location of the degree over the work put into a degree.

Who is at fault for this? Practically everyone. Students, parents, faculty, administrators, politicians, and the like are all guilty of erroneously valuing the credibility of a college degree.

But, if you are a student or a parent going into the college admissions process, here’s one word of advice: relax. Find a college that fits, don’t try to fit the college. You will be happier and more successful that way. Do not look at college rankings (they are mostly bogus, misleading, and useless). Do not look at exclusivity (elite colleges explicitly attempt to increase the number of applicants, not to increase the quality of their applicant pool but to increase their image). Students are going to do better in an environment that support them and challenge them properly.

Frank Bruni said it best in this book when he said, “How you use college. What you demand of it. They dynamics get lost in the admissions mania…But their importance is vividly underscored by the histories of just about every successful person interviewed for this book.”

Now that I have said all that, here comes my minor criticism: there is not enough information here to fill a whole book. This book is a well-researched, thought-out, and written article that was stretched over two hundred slogging pages. I know that this may be my own fault, many of the books Bruni cites or mentions are already in my personal library, so reading this book was kind of overkill for me. There is no information here for me, but being a higher education nerd that’s not a fair criticism. If someone was wrapped up in the mania of college admissions, I don’t think this book would change their mind. Perhaps it will open their minds a little, but I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s world.

So to sum up: find your space at your college. Stop expecting college to be the “everything” for you.