I lived on CC in 2013 - 8 years later I want to give some perspective

I’m not sure where to post this in the forum, but this is as good of a spot as any.

I re-found this website by googling an old username of mine and came across College Confidential, a website I remember fondly. I cared so much about starting college on the right foot, and I somewhat did. Let me give you some back story.

I graduated high school in 2013 from a college preparatory school where I focused highly on AP science and mathematics, hoping to have a life as an engineer in the Midwest. I took 6 AP classes, tried to get the highest GPA I possibly could in efforts to get a full-ride at a respectable university. I did some of these things, but I want to give some advice as I tell you how this played out.

  1. I didn’t get into my #1 school, but that doesn’t matter now. I ended up in a state school, still in engineering but with high financial aid and scholarships - the bang for your buck. I still ended up with a great job, making incredible, lifelong friends, and have pride in what I did and who I became. I did this all without the satisfaction of landing my target school or target job, however, I have more satisfaction of making the most of what I had instead of thinking about what I could have. “And that has made all the difference” - Robert Frost.

  2. I had a plan, and the plan changed. All. The. Time. I think back to Conan O’Brien’s 2011 Dartmouth speech (check it out on YouTube if you haven’t) on his woes with late night television. I ended up graduating with my engineering degree and a high GPA, but I’m not an engineer. In fact, most of my engineering friends I graduated with are not engineers now. I thought I would move out of my home state, but I’m still here and couldn’t be happier. Life has more plans than you do, but as long as you keep working hard, do the right thing, and be kind, you’ll find yourself in the right place.

  3. I hate to quote Farris Bueller, but everyone in the world who has aged even a little (including you) will agree: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If I could do one thing over again it would be to not try to get a high 90 on every exam, but spend more time in college solidifying the relationships that mean the most to me. I used to know my college and high school GPA. I don’t now, it’s not even on my resume. In my late teens and early twenties, I cared a lot about getting straight A’s, but towards the end of college I took my foot off the gas pedal, focused more on interviewing for jobs and enjoying friends. It was towards this time my best friends became life friends, I found my girlfriend (soon to be wife) and we all started growing up together. The B I got microeconomics freshman year, first semester hurt then, but doesn’t matter now. Love your time in high school, love your time in college. In general, love the time you have.

  4. This is more of a practical tip - apply for as many scholarships as you can. You would be AMAZED at how many scholarships are out there but never get applications. I remember going into college thinking student loans didn’t really matter because I was going into a high paying job that would financially support me well. Well, I landed in a good job, but it is nowhere near what I thought I was going to make as an engineer. Year 4 of my career and still not there. Luckily, I was responsible and applied for all the scholarships I could. I have friends who didn’t, and they’re in tough shape. Be financially responsible now, advise with your parents or friends before making big financial decisions. Also happy to talk with you if you don’t have these people to help.

I’ll be happy to come back and add more comments if you’d like, but I’ll leave with one last thing.

I didn’t make this post to gloat, I wrote this as if I was talking to 17 or 18 year old me. If you’re on college confidential as a junior or senior in high school, you care a whole lot more than others, and chances are that you will excel in life, whether it plays out like you think it might (it won’t).

Just enjoy the ride!



Great post! This reminds me of Frank Bruni’s 2015 book “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be.” Hopefully your words will give some good perspective to stressed-out HS students.

This is a great post and I hope it can stay available long term.

I especially love the part about things changing “All. The. Time.” And your focus on people versus perfect grades.

This is a lot of wisdom that will help many if they can have access to it. Thanks so much for posting so thoughtfully.


Love the post! I came to this site because my son thinks of majoring in engineering in college and I’m not sure he’ll become an engineer.

Awesome post!!

Lots of engineers so non engineering things since companies love the way they think… Just saying

Thanks for posting this! Well done. Looking forward to discussing it with my rising senior.

Ditto DaveH’s post, and thank you for sharing your experience with us VannAleXX!

I love it. Great advice for parents and students alike.

As a mom reading this I teared up. I try to explain this to my son all the time, but it it often gets lost I think with all the other things I try to to convey. You did a great thing by writing this and sharing your thoughts and experiences in how things really works and what truly matters the most.

Wishing you all best-you sound like you deserve only good things!

1 Like

So great to see a former poster coming back. Pretty soon we’ll be hearing from “second-generation” CCers!

1 Like