August 25, 2017: FRANK ADVICE FROM BRUNI

With the new school year comes hopes and dreams of college for high school seniors and juniors and their parents.  But the New York Times’s Frank Bruni has some sobering news:  where you go is not who you will be.  He’s here to discuss his best-selling book “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be:  An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.”

TRANSCRIPT

COLLEGE OF THEIR DREAMS, HOURS OF TUTORING FOR THEIR S.A.T.s AND A.C.T.s.

THE PAYOFF HAS BEEN INCREASING LIE A REJECTION LETTER FROM THE MOST ELITE SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD.

IT'S A HARD LOAD FOR MANY KIDS AND THEIR PARENTS.

BUT WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, DOES THE COLLEGE YOU ATTEND REALLY DETERMINE YOUR FUTURE SUCCESS?

'NEW YORK TIMES' FRANK GOONY ARGUES IT DOES NOT AND HOPES TO DISPEL WHAT HE CALLS THE ADMISSIONS MANIA.

IN THE UPDATED AND EXPANDED EDITION OF HIS BOOK, WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU WILL BE.

FRANK ROONEY JOINS US NOW.

WELCOME.

THANK YOU.

I SHOULD ALSO SAY THE HARD-COVER VERSION OF THE BOOK WAS A 'NEW YORK TIMES' BEST-SELLER.

VERY FORTUNATE, YEAH.

SO WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I HAVE A BUNCH OF NIECES AND NEPHEWS, MANY FRIENDS WHOSE KIDS ARE AGES OF GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE.

AND THE FRENZY, THE OBSESSIVENESS, THIS COMPULSION TO GET INTO THE MOST SELECTIVE SCHOOL POSSIBLE IS OFF THE CHARTS THESE DAYS.

AND YET WHEN I LOOK AROUND ME, AND I'M A JOURNALIST.

I'VE INTERVIEWED HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE IN SCORES OF PROFESSIONS.

AND WHEN I THINK ABOUT WHAT MADE THEM SUCCESSFUL, THERE IS NOT A COMMON LINK OF HAVING GONE TO A CONVENTIONALLY ELITE SELECTIVE SCHOOL.

AND SO THIS BELIEF THAT YOUR FUTURE CAN BE MADE SIMPLY BY GOING TO A SELECTIVE SCHOOL OR UNMADE BY BEING REJECTED SO INCONSISTENT WITH REAL LIFE I NEEDED TO SHOUT THAT OUT.

SO THAT'S WHAT YOU CALL THE MANIA, THE EXAGGERATED VERSION OF THINKING IT MATTERS SO MUCH.

AND WHO IS CAUGHT UP IN THIS MANIA?

YOU KNOW, IT'S LARGELY AFLUENT KIDS AND THEIR PARENTS BUT IT FANS OUT TO ALL OF SOCIETY.

IT'S PEOPLE WHO ARE ACHIEVEMENT-ORIENTED, AMBITIOUS AND THINK THE ONLY WAY THEY'RE GOING TO ATTAIN THEIR DREAMS AND THE ONLY WAY THEY'RE GOING TO REACH THE PINNACLE OF SUCCESS IS IF THEY GET INTO ONE OF THESE SCHOOLS THAT HAS AN ACCEPTANCE RATE OF 10% OR 7% OR IN THE CASE OF STANFORD NOW, 5%. AND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, IF YOU ARE HITCHING YOUR DREAMS AND YOUR SELF WORTH TO A 5% ACCEPTANCE RATE, YOU ARE SIMPLY SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR FAILURE.

AND I WANT TO SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT, YOU CAN GET WHERE YOU'RE GOING WITHOUT STANFORD.

BUT FRANK, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THE MANY PEOPLE WHO WILL TELL YOU THIS MANIA IS JUSTIFIED?

FOR EXAMPLE, THE LAST FOUR PRESIDENTS ABOUT IVY-LEAGUERS.

IS THAT JUST A COINCIDENCE?

NO, IT'S NOT JUST A COINCIDENCE BUT I'M REALLY GLAD YOU ASKED THAT.

TWO OF THOSE PRESIDENTS WERE BUSHES.

THEIR FOR BEARERS WENT TO YALE, WHICH IS WHERE THEY WENT.

DID YALE MAKE THEM PRESIDENTS OR DID THEY END UP AT YALE BECAUSE OF A BLOOD LINE AND A TRAJECTORY THAT WAS GOING TO LEAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND YALE WAS JUST A STOP ALONG THE WAY?

WE SAY, OH, ALL THE PRESIDENTS HAVE GONE TO IVY LEAGUE SCHOOLS.

AS IF IVY LEAGUE SCHOOLS MADE THE PRESIDENTS.

I DON'T THINK SO.

I THINK IN MANY OF THOSE SITUATIONS AND HOPEFULLY SOMEDAY WE'LL SAY WOMEN TOO, THEY WERE BOUND FOR THAT SORT OF FUTURE AND THEY HAPPENED TO GO THROUGH THE IVY LEAGUE.

SO WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT CAUSATION VERSUS CORRELATION.

SO YOU ALSO LOOKED AT TOP TEN FORTUNE 500 COMPANY CEOs BACK IN 2014, AND WHAT DID YOU FIND?

OF THE TEN LARGEST COMPANIES, THE CEOs OF THOSE COMPANIES ONLY ONE OF THEM WENT TO A SCHOOL THAT YOU OR I OR ANYONE ELSE WOULD CONSIDER CONVENTIONALLY ELITE AND THE REST WENT TO STATE WHEN YOU LOOK AT SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE, IT'S VERY RELEVANT WHAT THEY PUT INTO THEIR COLLEGE EDUCATION.

HOW THEY SPENT THAT TIME.

MUCH LESS RELEVANT WHERE THAT SCHOOL WAS OR WHETHER ITS NAME MADE YOUR HEARTBEAT FASTER.

SO ELABORATE ON THAT.

WHAT DOES MAKE FOR FUTURE SUCCESS?

THERE HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN SOME STUDIES AND THERE IS A WONDERFUL PROJECT CALLED THE GALLUP PURDUE INDEX.

PEOPLE WHO TEND TO GET DEEPLY INVOLVED IN COLLEGE DO BETTER LATER ON.

PEOPLE WHO DEVELOP A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH A PROFESSOR WHO IS A MENTOR TEND TO DO BETTER.

AND IF YOU GO THROUGH ALL OF THOSE THINGS THAT SEEM TO AUGER BETTER SUCCESS THEY'RE ALL MEASURES OF ENGAGEMENT.

PEOPLE WHO GET FULLY ENGAGED IN WHAT THEY'RE DOING AND COMMIT TO IT AND ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT IT, THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL, WHETHER THEY WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS OR M.I.T.

ALL MY FRIENDS ARE EXAMPLES OF WHAT YOU JUST SAID.

NEVERTHELESS, I MYSELF WHO WAS GUILTY OF THIS DELUSION.

WHERE DOES THE DELUSION COME FROM?

A SELECTIVE REALITY.

WE TELL A SELECTIVE AND UNTRUE STORY.

TAKE THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE.

IF YOU WENT OUT AND ASKED PEOPLE READING UP ON IT FAIRLY WELL, WHERE DID TED CRUZ GO TO COLLEGE, HE'LL TELL YOU HE WENT TO PRINCETON.

IF YOU ASK WHERE DID MARCO RUBIO GO TO COLLEGE, THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, BECAUSE EVERY PROFILE ABOUT TED CRUZ TELLS YOU HE WENT TO PRINCETON AS IF THAT EXPLAINS HIS SUCCESS.

THE PROFILES OF MARCO RUBIO DON'T TELL YOU WHERE HE WENT TO SCHOOL.

BECAUSE IT WASN'T A BIG BRAND NAME SCHOOL.

AND THAT SOMEHOW IS SEEN AS IRRELEVANT OR CONTRADICTORY.

BUT IT HAD EVERY BIT AS MUCH TO DO WITH THE MAN HE BECAME AS PRINCETON DID.

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, AFTER --

WELL, NO, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA.

BUT THAT'S THE THIRD COLLEGE HE WENT TO.

HE STARTED OUT AT A PLACE IN MISSOURI, WHICH DOESN'T EVEN EXIST ANY MORE AS A FULL-FLEDGED FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE AND THEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND ONLY THEN DID HE GRADUATE -- AND NO ONE HEARS ABOUT THAT.

THAT HAS EVERY MUCH TO DO AS PRINCETON.

HOW DO WE HEAL THIS MANIA BESIDES WRITING BOOKS LIKE THIS?

BUY BOOKS LIKE THIS.

WE TELL THE WHOLE STORY.

WE TALK IN A MUCH, MUCH MORE HONEST, FULL WAY ABOUT HOW PEOPLE GET WHERE THEY'RE GETTING IN LIFE.

AND THE ANSWER TO THAT IS IT HAS TO DO WITH THINGS THEY DID IN HIGH SCHOOL, THINGS THEY DO AFTER COLLEGE.

IT'S SO STRANGE TO ME THAT WE ATTRIBUTE THIS MAGICAL POWER TO THESE FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE OR FOR SOME PEOPLE FIVE OR SIX.

AS IF IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF LIFE.

THEY'RE IMPORTANT YEARS, BUT SO ARE THE YEARS THAT CAME BEFORE, THE YEARS THAT COME AFTER.

AND WE HAVE TO STOP GIVING KIDS THE MESSAGE THIS ONE JUNK AT YOUR IS GOING TO DETERMINE THEIR ENTIRE FUTURE.

FRANK, YOUR BOOK IS 'WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU'LL BE, AN ANTIDOTE TO THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS MANIA.'

IT'S A GREAT BOOK AND DISPELS THE ILLUSION THAT HURTS US ALL.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

Funders

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