University of where?
Perhaps your son or daughter was not admitted into Stanford, Duke, or Yale. Was it the system that failed or perhaps the child didn’t do well on his or her college boards. Maybe there were esoteric quota systems in place, or the school’s selective parameters for admission was just out of reach.What’s a parent to do? I’ll give you a three-word suggestion: Get over it!Sure it’s easy for me to say. My daughter was admitted to her first choice, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and she graduated just a smidgen under the honors category. But I’ll tell you what, had Kate graduated from Harvard or Berkley, I doubt her career path would be much different than it is today.We want our children to make their mark, we want them to engender admiration and respect from the society, and we want them to have the power to influence events in the world. What colleges or universities do you feel have a corner on the market of graduating young people into the world who truly make a difference?Early last summer,The Washington Post printed an article examining where some of our most influential leaders attended school. You may find the results surprising.Here’s where the first 25 governors listed in the Almanac of American Politics, 2002 edition, attended college:Alabama, Yale, Kansas, Ouachita Baptist, Stanford, Austin State, Villanova, (no college for Gov. Ruth Minner of Delaware, she was a high school drop out) Texas, Georgia, Berkley, Idaho, Ferris State, Indiana, Hamilton, Kansas Wesleyan, Kentucky, LSU, Dartmouth, Florida State, Trinity, Michigan State, North Hennepin Community College, Mississippi, and Southwest Missouri State.If we look at the U.S. senators of the other 25 states, we get Wyoming, Wisconsin, Salem, Washington State, Washington & Lee, St. Michaels, Brigham Young, Georgia, Memphis State, South Dakota State, Clemson, West Point, Penn, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Miami of Ohio, Stanford, Wingate, Harvard, New Mexico, Rutgers, Lafayette, Utah State, Nebraska and Stanford.OK, so Stanford University keeps popping up (four of the 50). But what about Wingate, Lafayette, and St. Michaels, not to mention North Hennepin Community College? I don’t know about you, but those last four were definitely below my radar screen.Now let’s look at the colleges of the CEOs of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies: Duke, Pittsburg State (Kansas), Wisconsin, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, UMass, Dartmouth, Cornell, Miami of Ohio, Institute of Chartered Accountants (Australia), and UC Berkeley.Even our mighty network journalists haven’t attended prestige schools, to wit: Dan Rather attended Sam Houston State, Tom Brokaw graduated from South Dakota, and Peter Jennings was a high school dropout!While William and Mary will claim Thomas Jefferson and Harvard the Adamses and JFK, most of our presidents didn’t come from the Ivies or the upper tier schools. They attended places such as Southwest Texas State Teachers College, Whittier College, Eureka College, and one (Harry S. Truman, my personal hero) was never educated beyond high school.There’s an old saying: “When given a lemon, make lemonade.” This is never truer than when dealing with education. Of course, some colleges and universities have broader curriculums and some will have a higher percentage of professors with advanced degrees. But by and large, the individual, not the institution, determines the quality of an education.This commentary is written more for parents than for the high school students. Sometimes I think parents feel the sting of disappointment at being turned down by a first-choice school more than their children.However, it usually takes about 20 minutes after stepping onto a college campus for the first time before a student realizes that he or she is in a whole new world, with new friends, activities, romances, adventures and intellectual challenges.Don’t get hung up on the fact that the University of Ivy League turned Junior or little Sally down. In fact, Junior and Sally haven’t been given a lemon at all.They been given an opportunity to expand their horizons, challenge their intellectual capacities and become whatever it is that they put their mind to.Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org