I was wondering if you would mind giving me a little advice? It seems so petty to say this, but I feel really bad that I didn’t end up going to a better university. I ended up going to my safety school, and although I’m happy to be saving my parents money, I still feel bad. My brother was accepted into almost every school he applied to and went somewhere very prestigious. In my mind, I feel like I’m always compared to him and other students like him. I know I should be grateful for everything I have, but every now and then this bothers me. I don’t know what I should do to stop feeling this way.
The first two years of my post high-school education were taken at a local junior college. Later, I got my BA from a good, but not prestigious, university. During those junior college years, and in the years between those and my last years of college, I credit most of what I learned from a book, still on the market, called “Good Reading,” given to me by a friend. It lists the best-known books in a number of fields and tells a few sentences about them–The 20th Century Novel, Religion, Psychology, Biography, Drama, Politics, Anthropology, Biological Sciences, History, etc. etc. With no particular plan, I looked up the fields that interested me most, read a bit about each recommended book, then went to the library and checked out the ones that appealed. I read book after book on psychology, anthropology, sociology, Russian novels, French novels, history… Most of them I read from cover to cover because I really liked them. If I found a book dull or uninteresting, I took it back and checked out something else. Finishing college is important because it shows prospective employers that you could be counted on to show up for class, complete assignments, write a paper, think a problem through….. But what I learned on my own affected me more in my daily life. You will find in your post-college life that no one will ask you for a critique of Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.” No one asks you to compare Freud’s theories to Adler’s. But you will recognize references to literature; you’ll have an understanding of why people often do things in groups that they wouldn’t do on their own; you’ll be fascinated at how early cultures tried to explain the universe; you’ll be able to join in conversations on a wide number of subjects, and to ask intelligent questions in a debate. No one will care whether you got this background of learning from an elite university, a state college, or a public library. Trust me.