If you didn't get in to Harvard...
So you didn't get admitted to Harvard. Or that other high-prestige college that you set your heart on.
Here's some sound advice for what to do next.
1. Do remember that some of the most prestigious schools in the US are awful places to get an undergraduate education. Harvard's doctoral programs mostly deserve their reputation. Their undergraduate programs are something else again. As an academic, if my kid wanted to go to Harvard, they'd need a VERY good reason. In most cases, my kid would find it easier to convince Harvard to accept them than to convince me to help pay for four years of over-rated ivy. Since Harvard's admission rate is historically about 10%, well, you get the picture.
2. If your heart is really set on that school that turned you down, then don't take no for answer. Take your next best school, work hard as a freshman, and look to transfer in later as a sophomore. You are not sentenced to spend the next four years of your life at a school that you really don't like.
3. Do realize that graduate schools are not impressed by the US News rankings. Your ability to go to a top-class graduate school depends on your GREs, your GPA, and a number of other things. There are numerous excellent colleges that will not be found in the first couple lines of the US News rankings.
4. This is nicely summed up by Gregg Easterbrook:
"The elites still lead in producing undergraduates who go on for doctorates (Caltech had the highest percentage during the 1990s), but Earlham, Grinnell, Kalamazoo, Kenyon, Knox, Lawrence, Macalester, Oberlin, and Wooster do better on this scale than many higher-status schools. In the 1990s little Earlham, with just 1,200 students, produced a higher percentage of graduates who have since received doctorates than did Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, Northwestern, Penn, or Vassar."
5. So here's a short list of great liberal colleges that I hope my kid will look at seriously:
St John's College: the classic great books program and probably the best liberal arts college in the country.
Thomas Aquinas College: similar to St John's, but with a strong Catholic slant.
University of Chicago: Indiana Jones's school is vastly underrated by high school students, but not by grad school admissions offices.
Wheaton College: "In a survey of baccalaureate origins of doctorate
recipients, Wheaton ranked 11th in the nation in the total number of graduates (all fields) who went on to earn doctorates."
Hillsdale College: first-rate liberal arts program with a strong emphasis on values and culture.