Wrong Emphasis in Post-Secondary Education

There seems to be something with people fetishizing over which post-secondary institutions that they go to. People unnecessarily stressing over getting into the most prestigious of universities, and yet the actual education aspect is entirely disregarded. Who bloody cares if the education there is actually good? The name of the university is well-known, so the education that they have must be good, right? Well, it depends on how that education is being used.

The book "David and Goliath" by Malcolm Gladwell brings up a particular story where "higher" education really backfired. It details the experiences of a young girl going into a rigorous program in a more "prestigious" university (don't remember what program it was.) This inevitably ruined her mentally and she promptly switched her major to liberal arts; it was not because she was stupid, but rather because the students around her were just more intelligent; she was at the bottom of her program rather than in the average or at the top. It's a rather petty thing in hindsight, but it can really be discouraging. How is it that we're losing bright students going into high-demand fields not because they aren't capable, but because others around them are more capable but not in significant way? A student's ability to get high grades in academia has little to say on how well they'll do in the working world; in fact, most employers don't even care about the applicant's GPA, it is always prior work experience, and/or personal projects that they really look at.

I am a firm believer that the students themselves are the ones who make or break their post-secondary education, not the school that they go to. I opted to go into a "less prestigious" university instead of well-recognized ones because I knew I would get more time to do personal projects along with my school work due to lesser standards. And plus, I get to learn other subjects outside of my coursework for fun, and not have to worry about the amount of competition that these higher universities inherently bring. It seems to me that these universities overemphasize the competition aspect rather than the actual learning; why do such places psychologically torture students through an arbitrary measurement of performance that seems to have no weight in the grand scheme of things? It absolutely aggravates me. It leads to mental health struggles, it leads to suicide, and it often leaves us to resent the entire concept of learning altogether.

Sure, the prestige of one's university may help land the first few jobs, but the scope and the accomplishment of one's personal projects also can do the same work, if not better. People start stressing over what university they should go into, but I'm at the point where I'll just say that it doesn't matter. If they got into a prestigious university, great! If the university/college isn't so well-known, then great! Just don't stress about the mere prestige that the university bears and actually tap into the real value of post-secondary education, which is learning and growing as an individual. It truly disheartens me to see that students rely more on the prestige of their school and their grades to carry them in life rather than things that will truly make a difference.