Mary G. Morris
CEO, Virginia529 College Savings Plan
April 27, 2015

As college acceptance day approaches for high school seniors,  I have been reading Frank Bruni’s new book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, about the “college admissions mania” and thinking about the admissions process.

Soon-to-be high school graduates – this is for you.  If college is not in your immediate future, stay open to opportunities in the future and know that learning takes many shapes and forms  throughout our lives.

For those heading straight to some form of higher education – congratulations! As you consider your options this month, remember that where you go does not define you now and it will not control your future. If that perfect  school fails to recognize that the two of you are meant for each other, please don’t think you have failed to measure up or that you must “settle” for another school.  I can almost guarantee that when you look back, it will have turned out to be for the best.

Where you go will not dictate the rest of your life and says nothing about you as a person or your potential.  The college admissions process is a numbers game – and at the “top” schools, the game is stacked against a great many top students. The more students they turn away, the better they look.  Think about what that says about our system and values!  And too often our high schools, and sometimes parents and family, buy into the hype.
Most schools can and will provide wonderful challenges, interesting people with differing backgrounds and perspectives, and a wide array of courses and learning environments to provide a strong foundation for your future.  The school – whether Ivy League, community college or trade – provides the setting, people and facilities to allow for learning and growth; what happens next is determined by what you make of those opportunities.  This is true for college and throughout your life.

To quote Frank Bruni, “life is defined by little snags and big setbacks; success is determined by the ability to distinguish between the two and rebound from either.” The key is to take that first leap into the unknown – to be excited about the possibilities and open to the twists and turns along the way.

The path will not always be easy or smooth – but you already know that.  Where you start on the path to the future is less important than understanding that the college decision is not the end of the road, but the beginning of an exciting journey into adulthood. Good luck and enjoy the adventure.
About the Author

Mary Morris is the CEO of the Virginia529 College Savings Plan.  Virginia529 is the largest a 529 college savings plan in the country, with more than $53 billion invested for families saving for higher education in over 2.3 million accounts, as of December 31, 2014.  Virginia529 offers flexible, affordable, tax-advantaged savings for qualified higher education expenses through its four programs: Virginia529 prePAID SM(prePAID SM), Virginia529 inVEST SM (inVEST SM), CollegeAmerica® and CollegeWealth®.