Dear Editor:

Following the death of Colin Powell, the Wall Street Journal reprinted part of an op-ed he had written July 27, 2016. He noted that he had been a public school kid "from kindergarten through to Morris High School in the South Bronx and, finally, City College of New York." As a newly minted Army second lieutenant, he "competed against West Pointers, against grads from Harvard and VMI and the Citadel and other top schools. And to my surprise, I discovered I had gotten a pretty good education in the New York City public schools."

My experience was similar. Following my education in the Aurora public schools, I attended Waubonsee Community College for two years, then transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, the poor step-child of the UI system. In my first engineering job, I competed against engineering graduates of Purdue, Bradley, IIT, and the home campus of the U of I at Urbana-Champaign. Like General Powell, I found I had gotten a pretty good education in Illinois' public schools.

What we both discovered was the myth of the top-tier school. In actual fact, the most important factors in getting a good education are the attitude and work ethic of the student, not the reputation of the school. The only real advantages of a so-called top ranked school are a marginal edge in getting that first job and bragging rights for the insecure.

The take-home message is that a West Carroll grad should expect to be competitive in whatever college he attends and upon graduation, should expect to be competitive on the job regardless of what schools his coworkers attended. Of course, this is dependent on hard work and study by the student from high school through college. While studying is less enjoyable than partying, in the end it is far more satisfying and rewarding. Education is not a passive process.

David Hanson,

Savanna