College Advice: Be A Big Fish In A Big Pond

It’s been a whirlwind day for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, former dean of Harvard Law School. The school’s campus was buzzing as staff, faculty, and students met to watch Elena’s nomination by President Obama on CNN. While sitting there and watching history happen (she would be the third female justice on the court…that’s never happened before), a realization was finally crystallized for me.

You CAN Get Into Your Reach School

It pays to strive to be the best, go to the best school you can, and stay involved. While not everyone can attend Harvard Law School or an Ivy League school, it’s important to set your sights as high as you can. Frequently called a ‘reach’ school, college applicants need to try to get into their reach schools as hard as they can.

There has been a steady flow of Supreme Court justices, White House appointees, and even Presidents come out of Harvard Law in the past few decades. The campus has an aura of accomplishment and the community is truly alive with intellectual debate. There are countless members of this community who have a passion for what they do and parlay this into big accomplishments. But these accomplishments don’t happen by accident. Achievements are possible because of the always-expanding cachet of the Harvard Law brand and identity.

Be A Big Fish In A Big Pond

In other words, it’s easier to land your dream job or career if you are at a school with the most resources, financially, intellectually, etc. While I realize it’s not a possibility for everyone to get into Harvard, college applicants need to take this advice to heart after they graduate in the coming weeks.

Here’s a quick bulleted list of thoughts you should consider when applying to colleges in the coming year. After working in college admissions, I have personally given this advice to as many students as possible.

  • Do what’s hard
  • Do what others won’t
  • Be a big fish in a big pond
  • Don’t be afraid of failure

Why You Must Do What Is Hard

With that, I wish you the best of luck in your chosen path. Just remember, you won’t separate yourself from the pack by doing what everyone else is doing. In fact, any noteworthy inventor, scholar, or politician started by doing what’s hard. I hope you find this site helpful in finding new ways to make yourself stand out. Thanks to social media, it’s never been more important for students to not just follow the crowd.

Front page thumbnail from Jon Keegan