Time Magazine's cover story this week - "Who Needs Harvard?", profiles Nashvillian Carla Valenzuela in a look at college applicants choosing practicality over name recognition:
"Carla Valenzuela, 18, who graduated in the spring from Martin Luther King Academic Magnet school in Nashville, Tenn., applied to 13 schools--and wound up picking her last choice. She turned down Amherst, Wellesley and Dartmouth in favor of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Part of the draw was being near a big city; part was the offer of a Meyerhoff scholarship, a prestigious, four-year grant for talented high school students studying science and related fields. All 52 Meyerhoff scholars from the class of 2005 went on to graduate schools, 45 of them to M.D., Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. combination programs."
"'If I wanted to work right after college, I would have gone to a more 'name school' like Dartmouth,' Valenzuela says. But she hopes to become a doctor, so she did some research. 'I definitely looked at the medical-acceptance rates of each college and how strong their pre-med programs were, and that helped knock out a lot of colleges.' Students with clear professional goals will pay more attention to the reputation of a single department than the whole university."