What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Demystifying the Draw of a Prestigious College

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Elias Miller and Moriah Adeghe in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


What’s Covered:



In this article, we share advice to future college students from college graduates Moriah Adeghe and Elias Miller. We discuss the power of the draw of “prestigious” colleges and share tips for students to avoid common pitfalls when evaluating college options based on prestige.


Beware the Opinions of Others


When you are applying to college, it sometimes can feel like everyone has an opinion about the colleges you are considering or the schools they think that you should consider. For example, when Moriah was going through the college application process, she found herself being strongly influenced by the people around her, including her parents. Moriah’s mom wanted her to go to an Ivy League school, and this impacted Moriah’s decisions regarding the colleges that she applied to, even though not all of them were ideal schools for her.


While it can help to be mindful of the perceptions that the various people around you have about specific schools, don’t let these perspectives entirely shape your college list or decisions. People often have opinions about schools that may not be entirely based in truth. Your college decision should be based on the facts available to you and more importantly, your own opinions, so you find the truly best-fitting school for you.


Prioritize College Fit Over Prestige


As you explore colleges, prioritize schools that are best-fit options for you. While college prestige and rankings can be useful to a certain extent, they should not make or break where you apply or go to college. Instead of solely focusing on rankings, you should consider whether you will be able to succeed in a particular program and whether you will enjoy your experience at a particular school. 


If the fit and feel at a top-ranked school will enable you to thrive and have a positive experience, that’s great! But if not, you should be open to schools beyond those that are the most prestigious. 


Ultimately, college is not about going to the “best” one, but rather about learning, growing, and making memories. The happier you are in a program, the more likely you are to thrive, have strong grades, and even be prepared for your future career and graduate school opportunities.


Consider Factors Other Than Prestige


Look at Specific Courses and Programs


Ultimately, prestige is something that most students are aware of when it comes to applying to college, and it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate this as a factor when evaluating schools. That said, you don’t have to try to not think about prestige; it’s just more important to consider various other factors alongside it.


The course and program offerings at the schools that you are considering are much more important than a school’s overall ranking. Even if you are admitted to a highly selective institution, if it does not offer the courses or programs that you need for your future career goals, it may not be a good option for you. 


Think Seriously About Location


It is also important for students to think seriously about the locations of schools they are considering. While location is important for a variety of reasons, such as access to regional post-graduate career options or proximity to family, the weather can be a surprisingly impactful factor on your college experience.


For example, both Elias and Moriah had friends and peers who experienced seasonal affective disorder, which limited their success in college. While you may be excited about a particular prestigious college, if it is in a location that experiences a long winter, seriously consider how this might impact your mental health. After all, there are plenty of great college options with all kinds of weather and local charms—you just need to do the research!