One of my friends was shopping for a house in the Shoreline, CT area. He is from the Greater Farmington Valley so he would take trips to visit Guilford, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and East Lyme. During one of his Old Saybrook tours, his real estate agent took him and his family to Fenwick, the spectacular neighborhood made famous by Kathleen Hepburn. Thereafter, Every other house tour was a let down. “Tt’s good but it’s not Fenwick” became the running joke after reviewing other homes.
I see this same challenge with students in the college application process. Eager parents hoping to inspire students to seek their dream college sometimes make a big mistake: they get their child (and themselves) fixated on a single college that is often the metaphorical equivalent of a Fenwick mansion.
“I only want to go to Duke.” said Kelly a junior from Guilford. The problem was that wherever Kelly looked thereafter, she would say “It’s good but it’s not Duke.” Every other college visit was spoiled by comparison.
In Kelly’s case and with others, I explained that there are many outstanding colleges that share the same general characteristics as Duke. For example, top notch academics, a beautiful campus, great school spirit, and an international student body can be found at many different colleges . In addition, much of the college experience: moving away from home, living independently, taking interesting classes, meeting new friends would occur at most every reasonably good college.
There are many colleges and many homes that can lead to both happiness and success.