🎓 The Ivy League Way
Growing up all I knew about Ivy League colleges like Harvard were that they weren’t from me.
I was raised not far from a NASCAR track.
My dad worked in factories.
The Ivy League was for other people. Not for me.
As a first-generation college student, I attended Western Michigan University.
WMU was the perfect launchpad for my life.
But even back then, I felt inferior to friends who attended what I considered “brand name” schools like the University of Michigan.
After graduation and a few years in the television industry in New York City and Los Angeles, I felt a pull towards journalism.
A mentor pointed me towards Columbia University’s Journalism School, the nation's top-ranked graduate program.
Initially, I stiff-armed the idea.
It was an Ivy League school after all.
Despite my reservations, I applied.
To my surprise, I got in.
When I walked around Columbia's Morningside Heights campus in New York City, I felt out of place.
Despite having the credentials and an acceptance letter, I was hit hard by impostor syndrome.
With every class, I feared I’d be “found out” and sent packing.
But in a few weeks, my confidence grew, and I began to observe what I now call the 'Ivy League Way'.
The Ivy League Way: Expectation Over Hope
Most students at Columbia seemed to wear an invisible badge.
The badge was a belief that they deserved to be on that campus.
And while some might attribute this to a privileged upbringing or stellar early education, the real lesson here is the mindset.
They expected to be there.
It was clear that they believed they were exactly where they should be, and they didn’t seem to feel bad or guilty about it.
However, not everyone walked that campus with the same confidence.
My initial experience was different.
I didn’t expect to be there, I hoped to be there.
The difference between expecting and hoping is massive.
Expectation comes from a confident, active place: leaning forward, standing upright, being confident.
Hope can come from an insecure, passive place: leaning back, hunching over, feeling unsure.
Hope is passive (wishing for rain), while expectation is proactive (planting seeds in anticipation).
This realization adjusted my internal compass and mindset from hope to expectation, transforming my approach to life.
Effort: The Heart of Expectation
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a bad kind of expectation.
When expectation morphs into entitlement and privilege, it can be ugly.
It expects success without the sweat.
While hope is often about the outcome, expectation is about the process, effort, and the belief in one's ability.
It’s fueled by doing the work during the unseen hours to get wherever you want to go.
True expectation is built upon an unwavering commitment to growth.
When you’ve committed and done the work, you can expect.
And even if the outcome isn’t what you would like, you can sleep soundly knowing that you controlled what you could control - your effort.
Embracing the Ivy League Way doesn’t require an Ivy League education.
It's about transitioning from merely hoping to actively expecting, anchored in the work you’re putting in.
To quote Saint Augustine:
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
When you commit and put in the work, you have every right to expect.