As the Shippensburg University Alumni Association governing body, we felt we have an obligation to respond to your commentary from “Your World Today” in the March 19 edition of The Slate.
The college admissions scandal says a lot about the state of things and reveals, most notably, a growing desperation to appear happy and successful at a time when real happiness or success can be hard to find.
For young people, a college rejection can too often be mistaken for a prison sentence and seem to validate students’ worst fears about their own limitations.
It’s easy to see why. Admittedly, there is a hierarchy of colleges in peoples’ minds, but the assumption that Ivy League acceptance is reserved for the greatest among us is the first thing such a scandal proves wrong. The pressure of others’ expectations can often overshadow students’ understanding of what they truly want.
Many of us are pressured to follow the crowd these days, but the appearance of success, a connection to people of significance, or an illusion of status is rarely the same as actual success, significance or status.
Students cannot allow the blanket expectations of others to push their gaze toward someone else’s idea of name recognition and away from the university that would set them on their own path with their own purpose.
While there is a long list of Shippensburg alumni who have found their paths to success — as a CEO, governor, New York Times best-selling author, commander of the U.S. Central Command, TV star, U.S. senator, or Super Bowl champion — many other Ship alumni found opportunities to earn the titles they truly needed to be happy and successful — coach, officer, advisor, teacher, business owner, volunteer. No glamour or millions of insta-followers were needed.
The Ship experience helped to shape them, mature them, and open doors that might otherwise have remained closed. At the recent “Spirit of Generosity” Scholarship and Loan Dinner, where benefactors of SU scholarships and their recipients were recognized, attendees heard several recipients tell of their appreciation for their benefactors and the opportunities Ship has provided them to pursue professional goals and achievements. One even commented how better-prepared he was than his Ivy League competitors.
We encourage you to speak with members of the passionate and proud SU Alumni Association — 69,000 members strong. The association is diverse in many respects, but one commonality exists — a love, respect and gratitude for their experience at Ship.
Certainly, no success comes without self-motivation, preparation, and at times, sacrifice. This is true whether you’ve graduated from the Ivy League or a state university.
In closing, developing your own standards and validating yourself while others take more drastic steps to meet popular expectations can be difficult. It takes a little gumption and a little bravery. People who change the game, challenge tradition, make history, or even just land the big job don’t do so by chasing the appearance of greatness. They come upon it through their own path of self-discovery.
Rest assured the SU Alumni Association will always be here to help Ship remain a place to find yourself, your happiness, and your true definition of success no matter whom you are.