Michael O'Leary, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, reads a newspaper before the 364th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 28, 2015. Reuters

For many people, springtime means flowers, sunshine and a sense of optimism that summer will soon replace the shorter, dark days of winter. But for high school seniors, spring is a time of nervous anticipation — it's when they wait for their college acceptance letters.

When it comes to college admissions, high school students are often taught to aim for the stars. But that pressure comes along with nearly impossible expectations to earn above a 4.0 grade point average, participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible, manage leadership roles and excel on at least one sports team.

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Those burdens can have unfortunate consequences for teenagers. In 2015, for example, about 30 percent of girls aged 12 to 17 had an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. About 20 percent of boys in that age bracket did, too, which totaled about 6.3 teens with an anxiety disorder in 2015.

But some experts said that the pressure to go to elite universities was misguided. The college that you attend doesn’t necessarily equate to the success you’ll have later in life, they said. What matters more is whether students attend college in the first place.

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For instance, in his book “Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania,” Frank Bruni pointed out that the majority of the CEOs at the top 10 Fortune 500 companies didn’t attend an Ivy League school. In fact, many attended public colleges. The CEOs of the top Fortune 500 companies in summer 2016 attended the University of Arkansas, Texas A&M University, Auburn University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Minnesota, Fordham University, the University of Pittsburgh, Kettering University, Rutgers University and the University of Central Oklahoma.

“My fear is that these kids are always going to be evaluating their self-worth in terms of whether they hit the next rung society has placed in front of them at exactly the time that society has placed it,” Bruni wrote in his book. “And that’s dangerous, because you’re going to slip and fall in your life.”

A 2011 study supported that thesis, finding that whether students who went to elite, highly-ranked colleges or those that were just pretty good didn’t matter. Job outcomes were, in essence, unaffected when it came to earnings, found Stacy Dale and Alan B. Krueger of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

However, there wasn’t a total consensus on the question over whether which college you attended mattered. Jeffrey Selingo, author of “There Is Life After College,” argued that in some cases, it does make a difference. But he contended that it mattered more for low-income, minority, non-traditional students.

“It’s called ‘undermatching,’” Selingo wrote in the Washington Post in 2015. “That’s what happens when smart students, usually low-income, could succeed at an elite college but never apply to one or go to one.”