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Disappointed Parents/Second Guessing Myself

nikmillennianikmillennia Posts: 5 Harvard Champion
edited May 2013 in Parents Forum
Hi all,

I am a student and not, in fact, a parent, but would really like some advice for parents out there, so I hope it is alright to post here.

I'm a US citizen attending an international school, and will be matriculating at Brown next fall. I was extremely happy before (Yale and Brown were my top choices, because I thought they offered me what I was looking for academically and socially), but am now second guessing myself due to the reactions of those around me.

Rankings and "prestige" didn't matter all that much to me before, but it seems that to the general "public" in the country where I now live (which is in Asia), the prestige of a school is very important. Brown doesn't seem to be a very well-known school here, and some people have been implying that it isn't that great.

I am sal this year, but did not apply to Princeton or Harvard because I wasn't sure if I fit the schools quite as well. However, there are two students from my school going to each school, and now my parents are asking why I didn't apply (and they were aware of my college choices). Everyone is making a big deal out of these four students, and after flipping through some random CC threads I seriously started to wonder if I ought to have applied to those schools as well...and have since become somewhat obsessed with "HYPSM".

Everyone at school only seems to be able to talk about colleges all day, and a few of my peers have made some not-so-pleasant comments about Brown (especially making use of the pot-smoking hippie stereotype and the "joke of the Ivy League"). Most people aren't so candid, but do insinuate a lot of the same things. I feel terrible admitting this, but I am now seriously doubting my college choice and somehow have a feeling of inadequacy in the pit of my stomach. My parents are disappointed as well.

Although my regret began to form as a result of these reactions, it's not just about that now but about all the good things I've been hearing about "HYPSM". So many people I know (and threads around here, too) seem to make out that HYPSM are just such better schools overall (in terms of academics and the experiences offered). This has only made the problem worse, as I feel as if I am missing out on some amazing experience (not just a "name"). Also, since I keep hearing that it is possible to find your niche at any college, I can't help but think that I should've just applied (I've never visited any of these schools, and people also say that you'll never know about "fit" until you actually go to a school). I am more of an extroverted person, and usually can adapt to most social settings.

I honestly know that I ought to be happy and I really want to be, but it is kind of difficult when no one around me seems to be very happy for me. It has gotten to the point where I no longer look forward to college next year, and have become fixated on the regret of not applying to the two aforementioned colleges and have wondered what would happen if I took a year off to reapply. It's not so much that I feel as if I would have been in a shoo-in (that would be crazy) or anything like that, but that I should've at least tried.

But...I suppose it is too late to do anything. Any advice on how I should sort out these feelings, and also handle my parents and peers?

I sincerely apologize if this comes off sounding "spoiled" (for lack of a better word) as I do understand I am very fortunate. However, I am now a mess, emotionally, and while I am all for "carving your own path" and "only the people who matter know these are all good schools", it's difficult attempting to dismiss the opinons of everyone around me.

Thank you.
Post edited by nikmillennia on
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Replies to: Disappointed Parents/Second Guessing Myself

  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    Rankings and "prestige" didn't matter all that much to me before, but it seems that to the general "public" in the country where I now live (which is in Asia), the prestige of a school is very important. Brown doesn't seem to be a very well-known school here, and some people have been implying that it isn't that great

    You are basing your emotions on the reactions of people who DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. It's as simple as that.

    It is the epitome of stupid to think that "if I know something, it must be good; if I haven't heard of something, it can't be any good." People in your country don't have any special insight into US schools. They aren't here, they don't know what's what. They are reacting based on what they've heard, which is incomplete information. They overvalue schools that they've heard of and undervalue schools that they haven't heard of. They aren't demonstrating anything logical in their thinking.

    Brown is one of the finest schools in the US and there is absolutely nothing for you to feel bad about. What I do encourage you to do as you come to the US is to learn to trust your own opinion and the facts on the ground, and not pay so much attention to what other people think.
    Although my regret began to form as a result of these reactions, it's not just about that now but about all the good things I've been hearing about "HYPSM". So many people I know (and threads around here, too) seem to make out that HYPSM are just such better schools overall (in terms of academics and the experiences offered). This has only made the problem worse, as I feel as if I am missing out on some amazing experience (not just a "name").

    This is something you need to learn about the US. "Success" is not defined by HYPSM, or the Ivy League, or the top 20 schools, or whatever. The only people who are "impressed" by HYPSM and elevate those schools as being far, far above the rest are high school seniors who don't know what they are talking about. All of these schools offer more opportunities than any one person can take advantage of. It's of no consequence that HYPSM can offer you 30,000 opportunities and Brown can "only" offer you 25,000. You can only take advantage of half a dozen in the first place.

    Again, I cannot reiterate enough. The people in your country don't know what they're talking about, and frankly they're arrogant for even pretending that they have some great insight into US colleges.
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 194
    edited May 2013
    Brown is, in my opinion, the best of the schools you named. At this level, your peers will be great.

    But, think about this: you have NO REQUIRED classes at Brown. The teachers have to keep it interesting at the intro level, or nobody will register. No boring intro classes. Four years of interesting classes.

    Just that alone makes it the best school of the ones you have named, in my opinion.
  • calla1calla1 Posts: 27
    edited May 2013
    Students at Brown rank much happier than at most other schools. It has wonderful academics. You will love it there.

    I second Pizzagirl's comment about learning to trust yourself more and not pay so much attention to others. Often, others do not know what they are talking about.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    This is likely a big cultural shift for you, but it will serve you well as you come to the US. In your culture, it may be that the reactions of those around you are really important for you to take into consideration. In the US? Not so much.
  • nikmillennianikmillennia Posts: 5 Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Wow - thank you all so much for your fast responses!

    poetgrl/calla1 - Thank you for reminding me why I fell in love with Brown in the first place! (:

    Pizzagirl - yes, you're definitely correct. In my culture and (I hate to stereotype since I'm Asian myself, but I think this is true) most Asian cultures, other people's opinions seem to matter a lot. I just realized how crazy it is, but everyone seems to know if so-and-so went to such-and-such college. And how sad it is that so many people here seem to judge the "worth" of people they don't even know by their academic pedigree.

    I've moved around a lot (lived in the US up until middle school, then went to Europe for two years, and then to Asia), and I didn't realize until now how immersed I myself have actually become in this mindset of thinking. I resolve to maintain thinking for myself.



    "It's of no consequence that HYPSM can offer you 30,000 opportunities and Brown can "only" offer you 25,000. You can only take advantage of half a dozen in the first place."

    (Sorry I don't know how to do the quote thing)
    Ah thank you - that is such a good way to think about it. I got lost in the thinking that "HYPSM" offers the best experiences and never looked at it that way. But that is so true - and I suppose what matters is that I make the most out of my own experiences.



    Is there any advice for how to talk to my parents? Or what to discuss? I'm not even sure how to approach this subject. I really do want them to be happy for me, and to be happy in general, because I owe them so much. They have usually been supportive, so I don't really understand what's changed or what it is about the whole college thing that makes it different.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    I think you will be surprised when you get to the US and realize that the majority of people don't elevate HYPSM -- or elite colleges as a whole -- the way that they may do elsewhere.

    I realize I sound very American-centric here, and I don't mean to be, but you can't change other people's reactions. You can only change your own. You can decide to be happy knowing that you are going to one of the top schools in the US, or you can decide to let other people's (ignorant) reactions drive how you feel. Best of luck to you.
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Posts: 194
    edited May 2013
    I don't actually "get" what it is your parents are upset about. In your place, my kids would actually laugh at me. But, I would laugh at me, too.

    I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your parents or what consequences you are facing. You can just smile and nod and smile and nod. You can try talking about the reasons YOU think Brown is better, if you want. Either way, you are going to Brown.

    Good luck.
  • momcincomomcinco Posts: 6 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Maybe they are ambivalent about letting you go and seeing you move on with the next phase of your life. Maybe they genuinely believe that "only" the top three Ivy schools will ever be good enough. Maybe they worry for your happiness.

    It's okay. This period in your life will be over soon...and you'll be at Brown! Lucky you!

    Don't take it personally. Sounds like the whole environment around you is deluding itself. I think Brown was a great choice. I bet in a couple of month you will too.

    Start thinking for youself now. Good practice for an open curriculum. Stay focused and try to let the negativity roll past you. Surely there were reasons you liked Brown during your app process. Trust yourself and trust your instincts. (Personally I would have loved to go there 30 years ago but wasn't accepted. ) The stereotypes are silly but they do characterize a setting of tolerance, and academic innovation in an Ivy League institution. It will be what you make of it. Brown students are generally happier than many Ivy counterparts in study after study.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    Sorry, your parents need a big dose of grow-the-heck-up if they are "disappointed" in you for getting into one of the finest schools in the US. You have an amazing opportunity ahead of you. Don't let the ignorance you are facing in your country -- and make no mistake, it IS ignorance -- get you down.
  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 Posts: 31
    edited May 2013
    ^I would go with "smile and nod" in re the parents, friends, and other relatives. In public speaking they sometimes tell you to picture the audience naked to relieve your nervousness. In your case, you can secretly remind yourself that they are "naked" of actual knowledge regarding American universities.

    Once you have graduated from college and gone to work, you will be expected to respect the educations of your peers and superiors (and they yours) - even those who went to Podunk U and not just the ones who went to HYPSYM.

    Make the most of Brown and remember in what a tiny minority of earth's 7 billion people having an opportunity like that puts you, and your consequent responsibility as well.

    To whom much is given...
  • JoblueJoblue Posts: 9 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    You really ought to have your parents read this thread. I realize that you and they are presently immersed in a culture which when it comes to US universities, ignores the facts in favor of prejudice, but if you are to come to the US for college it is time for them to dismiss this type of ignorance. I'm sure that they love and support you but frankly they are being cruel and unjust if they are actually disappointed that their "bragging rights" are somewhat compromised because of the narrowminded ignorance of their peers. They really ought to know better if they have lived in the US for any period of time.

    Are they even aware that there are students who turn down HPY in favor of Brown?
  • skrlvrskrlvr Posts: 20
    edited May 2013
    Also, read this article from the NYTimes about Providence itself, and another about cities where college graduates find a hard time leaving, which include Providence.

    http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/travel/36-hours-in-providence-ri.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/education/edlife/27collegetown.html?pagewanted=all

    I'm a Brown grad, from way back, and native to the area. I loved the open curriculum, the people, the city...just about everything. I was a '7 year' med student, so I took a pre-med curriculum, but then took classes in linguistics, creative writing, Egyptology (a year of hieroglyphics!), anthropology, Arabic. I worked on an anthropology dig run by the Anthro department in RI my first summer after frosh year, and then in biomedical labs each summer after that.

    It's time to get excited about your choice. It's a fabulous place, full of creative, intelligent, socially conscious people who really, truly want to change the world. Providence is a perfect city for a young person.
  • My3DaughtersMy3Daughters Posts: 4 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    If my child were Ivy-bound, I'd hope she'd pick Brown -- just like President Kenendy's son.
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 137
    edited May 2013
    Brown is a first-rate university where you can get a first-rate education to prepare you for anything you choose to do next. Brown alumni I know include a mathematics professor at a top-20 U.S. university, a lawyer who graduated from Harvard Law, and a rabbi.

    You knew Brown was excellent when you applied.

    It is sad but true that Brown doesn't get the kind of universal name recognition that Harvard does. Even total ignoramuses know what Harvard is. Some ignoramuses know what Brown is, and others don't.

    I really hope you'll stop listening to stupid opinions and set your sights on the fabulous, exciting opportunity that's just on your horizon.

    Best wishes.
  • mndmnd Posts: 3 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Brown is a great university. Give it a chance. If you still want to go somewhere else, you can transfer after 1 year.
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