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Author on "destructive narrative" of college admissions culture

High school seniors will soon learn their futures, as colleges are posting acceptance and rejection letters
Is your dream college overrated? 05:34

"Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be" is New York Times columnist Frank Bruni's new book, and the title itself is apt advice for high school seniors eagerly waiting college acceptance letters.

"We've created this culture right now where we have all of these kids and their parents who feel like their entire life trajectory is going to be set by what happens during a few days in March and it's not true, and it's a destructive narrative to tell them," Bruni said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."

Nevertheless, certain schools carry certain prestige -- a fact many notice when discussing their alma mater. While some schools occupy a loftier perch in the country than others, Bruni said "we have to keep it in perspective."

"Any kind of survey of successful people shows that they come from all sorts of educational pedigrees," he said. "So the 'Ooh' that people get when they say Duke or when they say Harvard, that's wonderful, but not getting that 'Ooh' doesn't mean you're not going to get ahead and have a wonderful life and that's what we cannot lose sight of."

In addition to achieving good grades, high school students are encouraged to participate in extracurriculars and attend standardize test prep classes, but according to Bruni, sometimes there's only so much you can do.

"There are things you can do and there are things that you have the good luck of just being and this is what kids and parents need to remember when they're getting too heartbroken over not getting into a school with a 5 percent acceptance rate. If you're star athlete, if you're a legacy, all these things give you a leg up and mean the remaining spots are very few," he said.

One particular legacy story Bruni mentioned was that of former President George W. Bush who attended Yale University.

"Did Yale make him? And wasn't he always bound for Yale because Prescott his grandfather went there?" Bruni said. "My point is to attribute Bush's time in the White House to anything he got at Yale is to ignore that Yale was [more] a reflection of his blood lines than it was of anything else."

To hear about a parent's "panicked call" to one college admissions counselor, watch the video above.

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