Although there are no guarantees in life, it's no secret that a top-notch college education generally confers valuable special advantages to those fortunate, talented, and diligent enough to obtain one, including: superior instruction; well-connected networks of alums and professors; preferred access to coveted internship, research, and employment opportunities; etc.
Let's assume that landing a seat at a top school rather than an average school means that you're ultimately able to increase your month salary $1000, on average, over the course of your working lifetime, and that this allows you to save an extra $500 per month, on average, for 40 years at 6% real growth.
That's an extra $1 million in present value purchasing power once you hit retirement. And these numbers are conservative. You could quite easily double them, in the right jobs and fields.
That's a completely different life, not only for you, but for those who come after you.
Now are you motivated?
In general, the best thing you can do to increase the probability of admission to top schools is standardized test prep and college application essay prep. Assuming you're taking the toughest classes you can and are getting the best grades you can, time spent maximizing your SAT/ACT scores and nailing the various common app, personal statement, and supplemental essays you'll write for your college applications will do far more to improve your own College Application Marketability score than anything else you could possibly do with your time.
Once again, there are no guarantees. A hot diploma doesn't mean anything by itself, and students unable to gain entrance to a top 30 school can make up for most/all of that advantage with extra grit, hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
Still, it's worth it to aim high. Go for 100%! Then, celebrate the result, whatever it is. Use failures as feedback to recalibrate the machine.
Life is a summit-less mountain to climb. Every time you reach the top, there's a taller peak off in the distance. Best to learn to love climbing!
Copyright © 2006-present Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.