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College is a "theatre of learning, nothing more, nothing less"

Frank Bruni book

Jason Hughes
October 18, 2016

A few weeks ago, the College-Bound Colorado crew handed out copies of popular college-going books to more than 120 high school counselors attending a workshop on the University of Northern Colorado's campus. Among the titles distributed was a book by New York Times education columnist Frank Bruni titled Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote To The College Admissions Mania.

Ahead of the event, Bruni (who is a part of the Times team covering the presidential election) took a moment to recap the thesis of his book and offer some encouragement and advice for those in attendance. Here’s what he shared via email:

Make very, very clear to your students that the college that chooses them — and that they choose — is not a referendum on who they are, a definitive reflection of who they are or some crystal ball about the future they'll go on to. It's a theater of learning, nothing more, nothing less, and it's their performances there that will have the greatest impact on their fates.

Take some of the energy spent on figuring out how to get into college or precisely which college to obsess over and redirect that to the much more important work of how to use the college they go to, and the way to use it is to be fully engaged: to reach out, to join, to lead, to invest in projects.

Finally, don't confuse the word "fit," in terms of finding a college that does, with the notion of "comfort." Learning shouldn't make you comfortable. It should challenge you. It should provoke you. So the college that fits best is the one that is going to show you a bit of the world that you haven't seen, fill in the blanks on your resume (so to speak), fill in your blind spots, complete you. That's the best fit of all.

Frank Bruni

Interested in more from Bruni? You can read his New York Times columns online (including his recent piece titled “Why College Rankings Are a Joke”) and find his book on Amazon, in Barnes & Noble and beyond.

Good luck out there, college-seekers.