What Does College Mean To Great Neckers? 

Warner Tsang
Warner Tsang

Introducing Our Latest Column: The Voice Of A Great Neck High School Student

College—it’s such an imperative element to a person’s success in the future. But, to what extent should this element be emphasized? In our community, academia parallels meritocracy. In essence, those who are smart are well respected and are often praised in our school community. This intrinsic appreciation for academics impels many Great Neck students to consider the most prestigious universities for inevitable success. But, then again, to what extent should the prestige of the college be emphasized?

It’s human nature to be inherently attracted to prestige. Success appeals to many facets of our society as we all strive to achieve the most success we can—whether it be financial, religious or emotional. This prevalent concept explains why the most prestigious universities are often the targets for many Great Neck students—Harvard, Yale, Stanford, the list goes on.

This also explains why many Great Neck students are doing everything possible to enrich their résumés, both academically and extracurricularly. But, this prevalent concept cultivates cutthroat competition among students with everyone striving to be the best, because the best translates to absolute success.

Achieving prestige inculcates an unhealthy attitude and misconception for students, who believe that in order to be successful, they have to attend the best universities. To an extent, this drive among the students is beneficial toward their success, because it incites a persistent work ethic. But, then again, the prestige of a college is merely prestige, and doesn’t necessarily provide a comprehensive perspective into one’s success and shouldn’t be the defining proponent when making a decision of where to attend.

College is where students determine the craft or work they aspire to do for the rest of their lives. Thus, the majors that certain universities offer are much more important than the status of the university. Many students even choose universities that aren’t as prestigious so they can save money for graduate school, which is what will really determine their work later on.

The prestige of a certain university may look appealing on a résumé and may garner respect and approval from fellow workers or peers, but the most important aspect of choosing a university should not be the prestige. Rather, there are a plethora of other viable aspects, such as whether the college setting is a good fit, whether it offers the appropriate majors and so on.

Not much can be done to alter this “Great Neck mentality” towards academics as many students are brainwashed to direct their focuses toward prestigious schools. The drive to achieve fosters a strong academic culture, but it also fosters a burdening pressure that depresses many students. The burdening pressure deprives kids of emotional fulfillment, which is a chronic problem in such an academic culture. Nonetheless, it is the attraction to elite institutions that epitomizes the fabric of Great Neck academics.

Look for Warner Tsang’s future columns in the Great Neck Record.

Read what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni has to say about Ivy League colleges here.

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