Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author
Ah - you're not the first one to find him or herself in this position. You touch upon some existential questions about self-worth, how deeply we value ourselves, and how much the approval of others matters. And, well, sorry to go all buddha on you here - but this is the conundrum you find yourself in. What others think of your college seems to really, really matter to you! So I'll add this to the mix - one sprinkle of peer pressure, two dashes of social media and one dollop of bragging rights, plus the desire for everyone to validate you. You're having a tough time with your choice because you want the approval of others, or at the very least, for people to have heard of the school! I get it. Been there. I too have been very disappointed by how people can react to my good news or an accomplishment.
But hold, on, don't you dare consider choosing another school. You're focusing a bit too much on how hard Wash U was to get into, and that people should know you're a rock star. You're on the brink of becoming a young adult. Hopefully this will start to matter less. Hopefully, that ever present audience of high school peers judging and watching, begins to recede. It should in college. Stick to your guns. Stick to what's right for you. How would you feel going to another school for a few weeks of fame - or good bumper sticker - but four years of longing for that place that sung to your soul?
Being true to who we are is not always easy. We're conditioned from an early age to want the approval of others, but it can be costly. This is the beginning of your understanding of how important it is to do what's best for you despite what others think. If you can master this now, at such an early age, you will live a better and more honest life. So many students go to the wrong college because Mom or Dad wanted those bragging rights, or the student picked the brand name school over the one they knew was a better fit. I've said this before - college is a match to be made - not a bumper sticker to put on your car. Doing well, being happy, thriving at your college - trust me - you will have plenty to brag about and be proud of. But again, it's important to try and wean yourself off of that need to have others validate your choices. I realize that's difficult now because of the impact of social media in your life, and the bubble high school kids live in. But someone else's opinion should never get in the way of your dreams.
And btw - a memo to your classmates - hello? Who hasn't heard of Wash U in St. Louis? Wake up people. Ok sorry, going from a buddha to talking like a teen (full transparency here - I have a few in my household). Those of us in the know, and the world of education fully get how incredibly hard it is to get into this college, how prestigious it is, and what a standout student you are. I suspect a whole lot more students would agree. You just have yet to meet them.
Congratz! Go celebrate your admission to this school, and more importantly your decision to go there! It's a great college, one of the best in the nation - (not that my opinion should matter all that much) - because when ti comes to you, you know best!