In my consulting experience, I have seen two types of aspirants of elite colleges-

  1. One, who want to aim for elite school themselves and have been preparing for it in a focused self driven approach for years with clear conviction on what they want to achieve in life.
  2. Second, who consider elite schools as short cut to success, be in in terms of salaries they can get or the brand value that can help them in the business.

Probable Reactions of the First group of students

I will say, that for the first group of students who are aiming for the elite colleges and have been consistently working for it – success is easier than the second group because they are already on the path to success. So in reality it might not really matter if they attend an elite college, because through the process of preparing themselves for college- they prepare themselves to lead in life.

But, the problem comes when these students have learnt to lead, but have not learnt lessons of resilience. In such situations, if the student fails to get into an elite college – they have a higher tendency to stick with that feeling of failure for a long time. This delay in moving on from the feeling can cause an interruption in their growth.

Better is when these students face rejection (with whatever emotion that comes within them), and then set themselves up to take further challenges to improve themselves. I remember a case, when a student said that one of the only times he remembered he cried out-load was when he was rejected undergraduate admission at a college he truly desired. And the same student’s resilience took him to apply for post graduate in the same college and he took the undergraduate time to improve upon the weaknesses that he considered halted his move to his dream college.

Probable Reactions of the second group of students

I will say, that for the second group of students, who consider elite college as a short cut to success, get to reality sooner or later. Even if they get into an elite college, if the external market conditions are not favorable at the time of their graduation, they might not have the courage to take the onus of finding a job for themselves and continue to put all the reliance on the graduate placement office of the university. I respect the fact that the graduate placement office works hard to help them carve a successful career path, but I believe the onus should not be passed on completely as that might lead to loosing big opportunities outside the purview of graduate placement office

How to deal with stress in both situations?

1) Please embrace resilience. Embrace failure.

Read about Jimmy Wales – founder of Wikipedia who has been inspiring students by his stories of failure. University admissions can be really instrumental in carving your success path, but a good learning environment is what is important, then just the university ranking. So if the university of your choice admits you, do rejoice because it is certainly an achievement – but if it does not – it still prepares you for bigger successes in life. Remember failure is the route to success – so that university ultimately does become instrumental in your success – by not giving you admission and by teaching you how to embrace failure. So, don’t stop dreaming about elite universities, but aim high but not just to get in but to become a person who can win in any situation of life.

2) Explore all paths to success

If you are in what is called an elite university, or any other university – take help in carving your path of success, but do not blindly depend on any institution to do the work for you. In today’s digital times, especially with tools like LinkedIn you may be able to get to your dream job or funding for your dream venture with a click on your computer, so be aware of all avenues of getting to your career path.