September 21, 2017

Bearcats Blown Away by Chalk Fest -

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The New Tardy Policy Pilot Is Over -

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SMHS Chalk Fest is an Instant Successes -

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chalk Fest is Shaping Up Well This Year -

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Boys Volleyball Season Comes to a Close -

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bearcat Chefs Compete in Nacho Contest -

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bearcat Invitational Track Meet a Huge Success -

Monday, May 8, 2017

Concert Band Prepares for Spring Concert -

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Students: “Beware the Banality of a Busy Life” -

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Roger Federer Proves he is the GOAT -

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Coach John Tells Us About Boys Tennis -

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Olaiha Fonua and His Friend Perform at Green Week -

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Eureka, We Built It! -

Thursday, April 20, 2017

International Week Celebrates Diversity -

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

International Week Shines -

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Patent Battle Closed for CRISPR -

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Trump’s New Executive Order Is Not Effective -

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Uber Drives Itself Into a Corner -

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A New Tale That’s As Old As Time -

Thursday, March 30, 2017

“Life” Falls Flat -

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Branding of Higher Education

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A brand-name is a powerful tool – especially in America. Our distinctly American brands reach across the world, as Asian students adorn the latest Nike apparel, and our signature drink, Coca-Cola, is drunk as far as Antarctica. Even our biggest tourist destination, Times Square, is a commercial fantasyland, lit by the incandescent glow of corporate advertising. However, our obsession with branding goes beyond consumer culture, and has leaked into the world of higher education

As seniors begin receiving their acceptance decisions, rounding out the college application season, their tension is palpable. For years, these students have been working towards the goal of attending a “good” university, whether it be for themselves, their parents, or their peers. However, we have a vastly distorted view of what going to a “good” university really means – we focus less on the educational quality of the institution, and more on the name.

Driven students often see their chosen college as a defining factor of themselves – it’s easy to draw conclusions about the stereotypical Harvard student. Often, but not always, they’re extremely hard-working, smart as a whip, and serious about their future. It’s why we’re supposed to feel shock watching Legally Blonde, and wondering how in the world ditzy fashion-merchandising student Elle Woods was admitted to Harvard Law. It’s why students are hesitant about attending a less well-known, less “prestigious” university – how can people make (good) conclusions about them if they’re not familiar with the college they attend?

However, it’s not all self-validation. Here’s a commonly used example –

Two equally-capable, equally-advantaged students are applying for a job at a prestigious law firm. Both are seemingly identical, except for the college in which they graduated. One attended Cornell University. The other, College of the Ozarks. The employer is likely to hire the Cornell grad, even if the College of the Ozarks grad is equally (or more) qualified. However, Cornell has a higher acceptance rate – it’s simply the name recognition of Cornell, along with its Ivy League status, that makes it more attractive to employers. It’s a sad reality, and one students keep in mind as they choose their college.

Prestigious universities are extremely savvy at marketing – it’s why we see people all over the country wearing Harvard sweatshirts, UCLA tank tops, or Duke sweats, even if they have no affiliation with the college. Somehow, we’ve begun to treat these schools as we treat our brands, harming the legitimacy and quality education lesser-known universities can offer. As we begin to choose our schools, it’s crucial to remember that the “fit” is more important than the “name” – it’s four long years, do we really want to attend a university just so we get the most likes on our Facebook announcement?

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