Edison is close to making a decision as to which college he’ll attend in the fall. I’ve spent the last 8 months digging deep into the college application process. We visited campuses. I read all the reviews and websites, and spoke with dozens of alumni. I have a daughter in college, but this time was different. Bree wanted to go to a UC school and got into UCLA. That was easy; Edison is interested in out of state colleges, and liberal arts colleges as well.

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Here are a few thoughts I’ve had over the past few months as college has been pressing on my mind:

  1. You don’t need to go to college to be successful.
  2. No matter which college you consider, at some point, they will tell you of their unique ranking in US News and World Report.
  3. Going to college doesn’t make you wiser; it might even make you more foolish, especially in the first few years.
  4. Parents with younger children shouldn’t stress the importance of going to a “good college.” Instead, they should stress the importance of learning, being well read, and becoming an interesting person.
  5. Being “successful” and being interesting are not the same thing. Most of the most boring and uninteresting people I’ve met have money, college degrees, or both.
  6. Rankings don’t mean shit. You could go to the lowest ranked school and even, God forbid, community college, and if you decide to learn you’ll know more than the “smart” kids that learn all the tricks to get into a “top university” (consider Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Ralph Lauren, Michael Dell, on and on and on…).
  7. College tours highlight food, gymnasiums and dorms more than they do curriculum.
  8. College costs go up every year as does the quality of food, gymnasiums and dorms.
  9. I think many colleges will soon be offering free massage, complementary valet parking, and room service. And the tuition will reflect those free services.
  10. Once you request information from a college, whether private or public, you will be receiving the most impressively beautiful full color brochures in the mail, almost weekly.
  11. Once admitted to a college, you will be receiving the most impressively beautiful full color brochures in the mail, almost weekly. Unless you apply to a state school.
  12. No matter how good your grades are, it’s statistically impossible to get into an Ivy League school, or Stanford, MIT, Cal Tech.
  13. In spite of #12, you will hear parents talking about a kid that graduated from a generic public school and got accepted to Harvard. The parent will say something like, “Well I have a friend that told me of a kid from X High School that got into Harvard so we’re thinking about public school.”
  14. I’m all for education, but I hate to see it get in the way of learning.
  15. Perhaps the greatest status symbol for competitive parents today is what college their child goes to. This is sad because children should never be objectified (used) for the sake of parents’ obsession with their egos.
  16. The US has the best university system in the world and we are so lucky to have resources for learning that we do, but most teenagers don’t understand this.
  17. Every college will boast about their commitment to diversity. But I don’t think that diversity is the greatest virtue in life. I think love, commitment, humility, hard work, and generosity are far more important.
  18. Lots of people who don’t go to college become defensive and criticize those with college degrees or talk about how they went to “the school of hard knocks” as if those of us with college degrees have never had hard knocks.