First off, I dislike the term ‘safety school’ but I used it in the title for clarity.
So as we wrap up oldest D’s college search I plan to make a few posts to either share observations or start discussions on topics I’ve found interesting. This is one of the latter - I’m interested in others’ perspectives, experiences, outcomes, etc. on this topic.
A few facts: My D applied to nine schools and was accepted at eight, every one with between $12k and $27k/year merit awards: Connecticut College, Fairfield, Fordham, Holy Cross, Marist, Providence, Saint Anselm and Stonehill. She was denied at Bates.
After lots of back and forth and several college visits, she chose … Saint Anselm College! In the end she loved everything about the school and just felt very comfortable and ‘at home’ there.
Point of the discussion: On her list, I considered St As, Stonehill and probably Fairfield to be safety/sure thing schools. I guess I entered this process last Fall thinking that these were ‘back-up plan’ schools - if things don’t work out with the other schools these are still great options. It never occurred to me that she could get accepted at all of these schools and fall in love with one of the less selective choices.
What are my feelings? I’m mostly thrilled that she found a place where she feels totally at home, a school that really seems to be full of great kids, where she can be part of the Honors program, compete in varsity sports without an unreasonable time commitment, and where we can both avoid having to borrow money to attend. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a little concern about future outcomes relative to more prestigious alternatives. But mostly I trust the process, trust that great kids can have a great experience at lots of schools.
Anyone currently in the same situation? Anyone have perspective or advice after having gone through this in the past? Go Hawks!
I think the emphasis on prestige on this site is way overblown. I know many extremely successful people who came from schools never mentioned here and some here may never have heard of.
Congrats to your daughter, knowing who she is and choosing what she believes to be a happy fit for her.
Students should pick the best fit schools that offered admissions at the end as long as it is affordable. It does not matter if it is a reach, a match, or safety. Someone’s safety can be a reach for others.
I believe that individuals have the ability to succeed or fail regardless of what school they go to and a kid that loves where she is will thrive and succeed more than the kid who is not.
We all get caught in the prestige of schools and that pesky publication and their rankings. As my family navigated this current year of applications I remembered a gentleman I met a few years ago who told me how he graduated from a state school…and one that isn’t even in the top or middle tier of that particular state’s schools and went on to another state school in a different state for his masters. He is a VP at a company that I promise you have more than a few items made by this company in your home if not dozens of their products!
We spoke for a while and when discussing college prestige he said “you can be successful regardless of which school you go to if you are determined enough and put forth the effort. I certainly don’t feel I am less intelligent than any of the graduates of those fancy schools that work for me”
My oldest chose her safety. They offered her good merit, and she liked it as well as the higher ranked schools where she was accepted. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, has great experiences on campus and in off-campus semesters, still has contact with some professors and many friends 5 years after graduating, and got a great job after graduating through an older student she knew. And this fall is marrying her boo that she met freshman year there. It could not have been a better choice for her.
My older daughter went to a university that I had never heard of before she applied and that most people have never heard of. I hesitate to use the word “safety” because it seems to have so many definitions, but the school probably fell into that category, and it definitely was “safer” than some of the other schools that accepted her. She loved it, and I’m so glad she chose it!
My daughter is thriving at her safety. She’s working at the school’s art museum (which is very nice!), playing in the jazz band, earning money by photographing school events, developing close relationships with professors, and getting ready to study art in Florence, Italy next fall. Not sure what more we could ask for!
Prestige is only a concept in bragging rights. And while there is some merit in some people’s minds to having those bragging rights, employers and fellow workers usually don’t put much merit in bragging rights. It is one’s ability to perform one’s job that carries the most weight.
I went to a top engineering school and had a career as an engineer. Mentioning the name of my school got a quick glance, an quick nod and then it was down to business. You made or broke your reputation on what came next.
Be thankful she has found a school she is excited about. Success in college is far easier if you like where you are.
The one engineer I worked with in Maine who attended MIT was let go from our company! It was felt that he was good at identifying problems but not solving them. People would kind of roll their eyes when they said, “He went to MIT…”
H and I met at Stonehill and were married in the chapel on campus. We both could have gone to schools with much higher name recognition, but chose to attend a school we could afford. We were both Honors Scholars at Stonehill, and I will be forever grateful for the scholarship that made it possible to attend college (first in my family).
My kids also were strong students who were often told to “aim higher”. Stonehill and St. Anselms were both on my D’s list and I would have been happy to have her attend either.
If your D found a school she believes she’ll be happy at, especially where she can be both a scholar and an athlete - AND not have debt - that sounds like a win to me!
I just finished a good book that is pertinent to this discussion.
“Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote To The College Admissions Mania” by Frank Bruni
Every school on the OP’s list is a great school. It is up to the student to seek out and discover the wonderful world their particular school has to offer. It sure looks like this young woman headed to Saint Anslem is getting off on the right foot. It is wonderful to read these anecdotal stories, thank you for sharing.
@greenbutton “I’d rather have the prestige of a happy and stable child than a stressed, freaked out and/or struggling child with a prestigious name on their sweatshirt. Any day.”
You are assuming she would be unhappy and unstable if she chose the more pretisgeous college. In a perfect world she would chose the best fit and rank school and also be a very happy and stable student.
With that said, she should go to the school where SHE thinks she belongs regardless of ranking.
Too be honest, i think prestige only really matters for certain top schools. Once you get to past say the top 50 or even 100 colleges the name and prestige really doesn’t factor in too much.
My son will be graduating from his “safety” in less than 2 months. It was his safety because it was the only school he got into that we could afford, and that he was OK with attending (he really, really didn’t want to go to the state U) - so a true safety. He loves it, met great friends (and a “boo”), and will be settling in the city that’s been his home for the last 4 years. He has small debt and great skills (which be will hopefully be able to parlay into a job in his field, working on that). He was a little lukewarm on the school after our visit, but was practically in love with it after a couple of weeks attending. In fact, I think he’s going to be a little sad to be moving on!
I have to admit I was a little concerned about the quality of the education my daughter would receive, but wow! When she was home during spring break, she went on and on about everything she has learned. She could speak very eloquently on a broad range of topics. Much better than I could express myself, seriously. She’s gone from being a girl to a well-spoken young woman. In the blink of an eye! Oh, and I forgot to mention that she applied to her school for a paid blogging gig while she studies abroad, and she got it!
My son chose to only apply at what would be considered safety schools because they were the schools that had what he wanted. They are very good in his major and he is totally happy there, getting good grades and good opportunities. A safety school had be wonderful! I feel your daughter will be happy, which will lead to good grades, which will lead to a great job or grad school!