Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

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Five
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Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Five »

Hello all,
Just looking for the community's opinions on where one goes to college. I have read a great deal on this subject and spoke with many people who themselves have gone to various schools or their kids have gone to various schools.....Yale, Princeton, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Carnegie Mellon University, The Ohio State University, Penn State University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and others. Some say to send your child to the best school they can get into regardless of costs. Others say that financially cheaper local and/or state universities are "just fine". There are those who feel that a top notch college can help get their child (better springboard) into a top company, med school, law school, or grad school. Coming from the local state university may not be able to catapult your child like coming from Cornell, Harvard, or Stanford. Others feel that if your child does well at the state university (honors classes, writing/research, etc.) or at a smaller, "solid reputation" private school, they can still do very well in life. Some studies that I have read state that after 5 years out of college, the school where one graduated from means less than what one did on the job/for the company that they have worked at for those years. Also, applying to Ivy League/highly ranked medical schools, law schools, or graduate schools might be easier to gain admission to if one comes from a top notch undergraduate university......some argue in favor of this view; others feel that one does not have to go to Ivy League/highly ranked med schools, law schools, or graduate schools to do well in,life. The costs of many highly ranked colleges are unbelievably expensive......their costs will saddle a child with debt for many, many years!
Overall, looking at costs and quality are what I am interested in. Does it matter......Yale vs. Ohio State?
Quickly, I also have looked at class size, who actually teaches the classes---PhD's or graduate assistants who speak English poorly, how many internet classes are used instead of real live classroom teaching to complete a class (I.e. A class on Nutrition is taught on the Internet as a self paced class for the entire course with exams given at various points reached during this internet-taught class), social activities, clubs, fraternities, sororities, job placements for the various majors and med school, law,school, grad school admission rates over the last 5 years.
Any thoughts or real life examples?
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BolderBoy
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by BolderBoy »

Five wrote:Any thoughts or real life examples?
My basic thought is that is 99% the student and only 1% the school that matters.
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DTSC
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by DTSC »

I have degrees from a "name brand" (HPYMS) school and 2 state schools, including a large Midwest flagship school.

IMO, it doesn't matter. It's much more about the student's motivation and ambition. Cream rises. After you get your first job, no one cares where you went to school.

I would encourage students and parents to minimize debt. I don't think a name brand is worth $1/4M. Less debt (no debt) means more options later in life.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

1) The first question that you need to answer is which state are you in?

2) The second question is which major?

3) The third question is can you afford the difference in cost without taking a loan?

4) Do you believe the ROI is better than just give your children the money?

Right now, the difference in costs is at least 120K for 4 years.

5) Are your children smart enough to be in the top 33% at those schools? Aka, they will not be the "doormats"?

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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by dbr »

I think it matters a great deal that the school and the student are a good fit for each other. I also think it is very possible to make bad choices of major. Most stories I hear of kids changing schools, having educational setbacks, leaving school, going back to school in a different field later are results of misfit and ill-considered choices and are not infrequent.
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njboater74
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by njboater74 »

I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.

Another move is to crush it at an easier, lower tier school for 4 years, get a high GPA, and then go to a top tier for grad school. By then the student will have a much better idea of what they're looking to accomplish with their education.
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mouses
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by mouses »

njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.
+1 Someone from a top tier school has instant credibility.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Kosmo »

The most important thing is to find a school that offers a good program in what you want to study. You don't go to MIT to study history. A very close second is seeing if you're a fit to the school. If you can't stand living in a big city, NYU isn't for you. Basically you and the school need to be compatible.

Regarding job prospects, if the school offers a good program in a particular field of study, employers in that field know it.

I have degrees from 2 well known schools. I didn't actually consider the name of the school when I decided to attend.
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Watty
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Watty »

That is a very hard question to answer since many of the top students go to the top universities so you would expect them to do better and have things like higher lifetime earnings.

There was a study about 20 years ago that (as I recall) said that students that were accepted to Harvard but then went to some other well rated but not Ivy league university had about the same lifetime earnings as someone that actually went to Harvard.

A quick search looks like the study was updated so you might want to look at that study to see what it says.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/ ... -colleges/
Last edited by Watty on Mon Sep 26, 2016 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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rob
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by rob »

Five wrote:Any thoughts or real life examples?
Not sure but I never really look at the institution when I look at resumes for jobs.... Places like MIT etc. might jump off the page to me but the rest I just look that something relevant is there.
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tibbitts
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by tibbitts »

I don't see the point in asking this question since you already know that opinions and experiences will vary so widely. This is like the question of whether to invest internationally or not - you're looking for a definitive answer when there just isn't one.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by soboggled »

Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" touches on this subject. He concludes that many talented people are lost and discouraged by the fierce competition at a prestigious school but would shine at a good one. Students should not necessarily go to major, prestigious universities just to take advantage of that prestige. Instead, students should go to universities where they are likely to truly and notably excel. Unless you are a true genius, better a fish in a small pool than in a big one: “The Big Pond takes really bright students and demoralizes them.”
I think this is true in the hard sciences where academic skill is particularly crucial but perhaps not so much in other disciplines where making lifelong contacts and personal relationships are more important.
Stock Investor
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Stock Investor »

Many good answers here, I would lean towards it does not really matter all that much. It also matters much less after your first job.

Like others said here, smarter people tend to go to the better schools, and these people naturally do better and make it seem that better schools are the reason, but actually it is the more intelligent people.

You have to look at it strategically also. If you want to be a medical doctor, you may be better off not going to a good undergrad school because you will guarantee a higher GPA which helps for med school.

So many factors need to be considered here, what type of job you want, what degree you want, etc. It is not a really straight forward answer.

For example, Harvard may be worth the high expense for name recognition, but going to a school like expensive school like Fordham may not be worth the extra cost.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by OutInThirteen »

For me and our two sons, the state schools provided very good, quality educations. My spouse got a very good education at a local "commuter" (non-state, non-private) college. I enjoyed a very successful 35-year career and a pretty decent salary and benefits along the way, plus a lot of interesting work. Both of our sons are doing very well salary-wise, both in the low 6-figures within a couple of years of graduation. None of us had any trouble finding good employment right out of school, I had multiple job offers and was able to choose the job that offered the most interesting and visible assignments.

I firmly believe it mostly depends on the student and the right choiuce in major.
Bogel0048
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Bogel0048 »

One question is whether you mean this as a purely theoretical question or whether you are asking on behalf of a particular college candidate.

When you get to the level of your own children the boundaries immediately become much more defined. Which colleges can your children actually get into given their academic and other qualifications? Which colleges can you afford, or which colleges can your children get scholarships to attend?

Which state you live in is also a big roll of the dice. If you happen to live in Virginia you can get a great education at UVA or William and Mary at in-state tuition rates and with in-state application advantages.

Aside from these boundary-limiting questions, and back to the theoretical level, I do think there are advantages to the well-known, presumably high quality colleges. I'll call them Type A (educational and intangibles) and Type B (networking). I went "away" to a well-known college (no scholarship) that was very strong on Type A. I gained a great education and I also gained a breadth of experiences, including exposure to excellent faculty and classmates, that expanded my sense of career opportunities. Most of my high school classmates went to college near home and then came home to the same community for their careers.

After college I went to a well-known graduate school (full scholarship) that was strong on Type A and Type B. I interviewed for several jobs, got one fairly good offer, came in second on a fantastic opportunity, and ultimately got an excellent job through a networking connection. The responder above who said they don't really notice college names on resumes didn't say, but might have said, "Except, of course, I went to Princeton and I always interview candidates from Princeton". That responder may protest that he or she did not go to Princeton, or Yale, etc., but many people in good positions did go to these schools and many of them do have great confidence in fellow graduates who are looking for jobs.

And of course, Abraham Lincoln did not go to any of these name schools and he did quite well, so for the right person the right college is not a necessity.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by mouses »

soboggled wrote:Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" touches on this subject. He concludes that many talented people are lost and discouraged by the fierce competition at a prestigious school but would shine at a good one.
I have a hard time thinking that someone who is discouraged by competition is a potential first class employee.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by J295 »

I believe there is great wisdom in the earlier reply about the value of a "good fit" between student and school.
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Brewman
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Brewman »

BolderBoy wrote:
Five wrote:Any thoughts or real life examples?
My basic thought is that is 99% the student and only 1% the school that matters.
+1 I agree, I have a daughter who graduated from what I would call a second tier state school (think Ohio but not Ohio state) and she did extremely well in her STEM major and competed for an internship and finally a full time job with kids from top tier stem schools (MIT, Carnegie mellon, case) and was successful. She was by no means a genius (31 ACT) but was smart, a hard worker and determined. She graduated with her masters in 5 years (one of the reasons she chose the school was because of the 5 yr program) zero debt and had a job lined up 5 months before she graduated. Would she have had even more job success at a top tier school, maybe but I doubt it. I think it really does come down to the student.
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beyou
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by beyou »

soboggled wrote:Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" touches on this subject. He concludes that many talented people are lost and discouraged by the fierce competition at a prestigious school but would shine at a good one. Students should not necessarily go to major, prestigious universities just to take advantage of that prestige. Instead, students should go to universities where they are likely to truly and notably excel. Unless you are a true genius, better a fish in a small pool than in a big one: “The Big Pond takes really bright students and demoralizes them.”
I think this is true in the hard sciences where academic skill is particularly crucial but perhaps not so much in other disciplines where making lifelong contacts and personal relationships are more important.
I do not agree this is always true. If your kid gets straight As and high test scores, they don't really know what they can do or how high they can fly. Being in a highly competitive environment may help them find out where they stand. You never see how far you can run unless you run a longer race.

Additionally, there is knowing what motivates your child. Some I agree will thrive in an environment where they will surely stand out, others are motivated by competition and/or learning from peers. Both my kids were much happier making friends with kids who share their interests. That did not include drinking parties, but rather building robots, playing social games and sports, programming hackathons. Yes you will find some kids in the honors program of an average uni, but many more in an elite univ. We got to experiment, s1 went to honors program in cheap local univ, found they tought to the average kid so in his major he learned little. Topics were repeated from prerequisite classes "because students didn't get it". S1 transfered to an elite and is much happier with his peers and the classes are more challenging. He is finding out what he can do, since this school has a reputation of being high pressure and grade deflation. So far he is holding his own, getting As in classes where he is strongest, and doing well enough in other areas that he is overall finding his place.

Yes I liked paying zero tuition, but he was very unhappy and I gladly let him transfer when he was accepted to a top uni. Sent 2 nd son straight to a private top ranked uni, after that experience. He too wanted to be near kids that push him to go further academically.

I agree with another comment. Depends largely what state you live in, and if there are very good state u's, and if your kid gets into the program in that uni. One of our flagship state unis has a tiny business and engineering program, bigger in liberal arts. Kids can be rejected from this flagship (for those majors) but get into an elite private, was my experience. They just dont have the resources in this case. Our 2nd tier state unis have more capacity, but lower quality student body. Was very tough turning down merit at an already cheap state u, but we did. If I lived in Georgia, would gladly send my kids to Georgia Tech. But we dont live there, would cost us more from out of state, and just as competitive to get in, as many private unis. So it may be as good a choice but no more feasible. And those feasible are not equal to the elites.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Leemiller »

I'm an attorney and where you went to law school never stops mattering. I also won't go to a doctor whose medical school isn't a name I recognize. I went to a name law school, and I've worked at places were almost everyone else did as well. My clerkship came out of an internship I got with an alum.

Certain schools offer networking opportunities, I worked with a Stanford grad whose career moves happened solely because of who he knew, and he wasn't a trust fund kid. It's not just the teachers, it's the other students. But I think there are only a handful of schools in the country with that kind of cache.

For undergraduate, I'm a fan of the smaller liberal arts colleges. My child is so young that it's impossible to tell what her preferences will be in that regard. I think if your kid does get into Yale, Harvard, etc, it presents some difficult choices unless you are very wealthy.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Stock Investor wrote:Many good answers here, I would lean towards it does not really matter all that much. It also matters much less after your first job.

Like others said here, smarter people tend to go to the better schools, and these people naturally do better and make it seem that better schools are the reason, but actually it is the more intelligent people.

You have to look at it strategically also. If you want to be a medical doctor, you may be better off not going to a good undergrad school because you will guarantee a higher GPA which helps for med school.

So many factors need to be considered here, what type of job you want, what degree you want, etc. It is not a really straight forward answer.

For example, Harvard may be worth the high expense for name recognition, but going to a school like expensive school like Fordham may not be worth the extra cost.
On the other hand, when selecting a top flight surgeon where they attended schools may matter more than you think.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by student »

njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.

Another move is to crush it at an easier, lower tier school for 4 years, get a high GPA, and then go to a top tier for grad school. By then the student will have a much better idea of what they're looking to accomplish with their education.
This is very true. If they perform extremely well, some professors may even willing to go the extra step to call their alma mater/other schools with connection to put in a good word. My colleagues and I have done this a number of times. We have a close to 100% success rate. Of course, when these students perform well in their graduate programs, it enhances our credibility in the next round of recommendations.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

mouses wrote:
soboggled wrote:Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" touches on this subject. He concludes that many talented people are lost and discouraged by the fierce competition at a prestigious school but would shine at a good one.
I have a hard time thinking that someone who is discouraged by competition is a potential first class employee.
No, one usually gets discouraged by things like nepotism, friend of a friend gets job because of good ole boys network, etc. Where merit is not recognized is where one does not want to be employed, that is why those plates have difficulty attracting and retaining top talent.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by rakornacki1 »

On the short-term, Yes, recruiters can be biased. On the long-term, No, the cream does rise to the top.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by why3not »

I've been a low level manager at a fortune 50 company, a higher level manager at a small to mid sized (approx 500 employees) company and run my own company. In those roles, I have been part of the interviewing process of candidates for 500-700 job openings. Mostly in technology related positions. My observations from my experiences:

Fortune 50 - it generally mattered for entry level positions, resumes generally didn't make it through HR for candidates not from top 20 schools. It didn't matter (much) for the candidates to fill positions needing 2-5 years of experience & basically dropped off the radar after that unless it was highly technical & we wanted a PhD candidate. It appeared to matter for Sr Management candidates... recent MBA grads who were being "groomed" for division & corporate VP & president roles were pretty much top 5 schools only. Most of those candidates either left for other opportunities or were asked to leave. Very few made it to the exalted ranks. More "workman-like" mid level leadership roles were not filled by those folks but were typically filled by folks with more pedestrian MBAs & lots of experience.

Small/Mid-sized - mattered very little across any type of openings. Generally speaking, local (in-state) school reputation was more than enough to "set the table" for an interview. Work history (even if it was Joe's Burger Shack) & a degree from any accredited university would sometimes land an entry level interview, especially if the GPA was high.

My own company - a top tier degree is more likely to disqualify a candidate than land them an interview. My company takes a slow & steady approach & there is limited room for advancing up the management scale. There is room for more (non-managerial) responsibility & generous raises. I have found many of the top tier school folks leave to follow other opportunities that I can't offer.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by mouses »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
mouses wrote:
soboggled wrote:Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" touches on this subject. He concludes that many talented people are lost and discouraged by the fierce competition at a prestigious school but would shine at a good one.
I have a hard time thinking that someone who is discouraged by competition is a potential first class employee.
No, one usually gets discouraged by things like nepotism, friend of a friend gets job because of good ole boys network, etc. Where merit is not recognized is where one does not want to be employed, that is why those plates have difficulty attracting and retaining top talent.
I'm having trouble parsing this. You think at MIT, for example, students sail through depending on who their parent is? Or are you saying something else entirely?
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Steve723 »

rakornacki1 wrote:On the short-term, Yes, recruiters can be biased. On the long-term, No, the cream does rise to the top.
Yes, I think this is generally the case. Top schools can give folks a leg up early, but 20 years later it really doesn't matter anymore. Some folks are late bloomers who don't hit their stride until well after the college years. Others are laser-focused starting in high school and know exactly what they want to do. I would think those are the folks that benefit most from going to high-priced, highly touted schools. If you are a little wobbly as a high-schooler, even if quite intelligent, I would think taking a more economical route makes the most sense.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by NorCalDad »

Five wrote:Also, applying to Ivy League/highly ranked medical schools, law schools, or graduate schools might be easier to gain admission to if one comes from a top notch undergraduate university......some argue in favor of this view; others feel that one does not have to go to Ivy League/highly ranked med schools, law schools, or graduate schools to do well in,life. The costs of many highly ranked colleges are unbelievably expensive......their costs will saddle a child with debt for many, many years!
Overall, looking at costs and quality are what I am interested in. Does it matter......Yale vs. Ohio State?
I went to an Ivy for undergrad and will tell my kids that they should aim for a UC. Nobody in my family had gone to an elite private school before, and I was an ambitious high schooler who wanted to see what that experience was like. I appreciated my time there, but looking back at it from a value perspective, I could have done just as well in life coming from a UC. What will really matter for this generation is getting into a top-flight grad school, as you allude to. The student who belongs at a top-tier law or medical school will get there regardless of whether he or she goes to Yale or Ohio State; that student needs to be driven enough to earn high grades and score well into the 99th percentile on the entrance exam.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Andyrunner »

mouses wrote:
njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.
+1 Someone from a top tier school has instant credibility.
I am going to go with this. I went to a small regional private school, it has its good reputation, but it was nothing compared to my brother going to Notre Dame. I had to look for jobs, at ND, my brother had jobs looking for him. He easily went to USC for grad school and had many companies fighting for him.

It also depends where the student wants to go in life. I have heard major investment banks wont hire anyone who doesn't have a nationally recognized school. If you look at major politicians or CEO's most of them have degrees from these schools. Me, I am a mid level analyst at a good company making ~60k a year and I am happy, I don't have much desire to move up the company ranks or work more than 40 hrs a week to make more money.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by carolinaman »

If one can easily afford the elite schools and their child is a good fit academically, then they should go for it. However, if you or your child will borrow a lot of money to go to one of these schools, then I do not think it is worth it. There are many good state schools where one can get an excellent education. Once one has been working for 5 or more years, their work experience and capability matter more than where they went to school.

My college education (BS in Accounting) was mostly a self learning process, as professors did very little teaching. They gave you assignments and exams, and you either got it or changed majors. I am not sure how representative that is of all schools and majors, but if it is, it really does not matter a lot where you went to school.

I spent 44 years in IT. Most of my time was in senior management roles and I recruited many people, including those for senior management jobs. I never had the chance to hire anyone from an Ivy league school but did hire people from Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Duke, UNC and other prominent schools. Generally, people from those schools will be smart but not necessarily your best people. The more work experience and accomplishments someone had trumped where they went to school.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

mouses wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
mouses wrote:
soboggled wrote:Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" touches on this subject. He concludes that many talented people are lost and discouraged by the fierce competition at a prestigious school but would shine at a good one.
I have a hard time thinking that someone who is discouraged by competition is a potential first class employee.
No, one usually gets discouraged by things like nepotism, friend of a friend gets job because of good ole boys network, etc. Where merit is not recognized is where one does not want to be employed, that is why those plates have difficulty attracting and retaining top talent.
I'm having trouble parsing this. You think at MIT, for example, students sail through depending on who their parent is? Or are you saying something else entirely?
Something else, but greasing of wheels can help in some instances.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

carolinaman wrote:If one can easily afford the elite schools and their child is a good fit academically, then they should go for it. However, if you or your child will borrow a lot of money to go to one of these schools, then I do not think it is worth it. There are many good state schools where one can get an excellent education. Once one has been working for 5 or more years, their work experience and capability matter more than where they went to school.

My college education (BS in Accounting) was mostly a self learning process, as professors did very little teaching. They gave you assignments and exams, and you either got it or changed majors. I am not sure how representative that is of all schools and majors, but if it is, it really does not matter a lot where you went to school.

I spent 44 years in IT. Most of my time was in senior management roles and I recruited many people, including those for senior management jobs. I never had the chance to hire anyone from an Ivy league school but did hire people from Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Duke, UNC and other prominent schools. Generally, people from those schools will be smart but not necessarily your best people. The more work experience and accomplishments someone had trumped where they went to school.
+1 - sounds like we had the same professors. :wink:
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by dsmil »

First of all, I think that the major and grades are more important than one's school. A student with a valuable major from a state school will probably have a better time getting a job than a useless major from a top notch school. Also, even if a bigger school is less selective than a smaller and more selective school, prospective employers like going to large schools where they can look at a lot of candidates.

I studied accounting where getting good grades at my solid state school meant that the Big 4 and other national accounting firms were lining up to interview us (no graduate degree necessary). I don't see how paying extremely higher tuition at a more elite school would have made any difference with my job prospects.

On the other hand, if after undergrad, you want to get a graduate degree at a highly selective program, than maybe it's worth it to invest more in a school that will give you the upper hand on getting selected to your preferred graduate school.
Last edited by dsmil on Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
alfaspider
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by alfaspider »

It really depends. For certain desired career paths, it's essential. For others, not so much. The prospective student needs to have a good understanding of what they intend to do with their studies and their career and figure out how their school choice fits into it. Do you want to be an investment banker at a bulge bracket bank or do management consulting at an elite firm? Better go to an elite school. Do you want to be a public school teacher? An elite school won't provide much of an advantage.

Graduate/professional degrees can also vary quite a bit in how much school matters. Unless you are trying to get into a few very competitive specialties, it doesn't really matter where you go to medical school (as long as it's a U.S. program). If you want to be gainfully employed as a lawyer, it would be best to go to a top-ranked school.

Worth mentioning: many people forget that the most elite undergraduate schools (i.e. Harvard, Yale Stanford) have extremely generous student aid. They make sure you do not take on significant debt. Even at schools that are a small step down tend to give more generous scholarships due to greater endowments. Don't get too hung up on sticker price until you know what the school really costs.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by tennisplyr »

Depends on the career track but generally speaking, advanced degrees and bigger name school gives one greater opportunities in life...especially in jobs. I've hired and those coming from better schools and/or advanced degrees were considered more positively. My daughter has an advanced degree from Univ of Chicago and it has given her better leverage....generally speaking.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Saving$ »

mouses wrote:
njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.
+1 Someone from a top tier school has instant credibility.
+1. Does not mean it is fair, right, logical, etc. But it is.

Years (many years...) later, I cannot begin to tell you how many doors that name opens...people don't care which major / program I graduated from, or even if I excelled or barely graduated. The brand name is all that matters to some people.

They hear the name, perk up, and then take in the balance of the professional experience. Whether it is for job opportunities, competitive proposals in which my resume is included as part of the project team, or just credibility with new colleagues, it matters. It is a differentiator, it gets noticed. Examples
- Resume picked out of stacks because alma mater was noticed. Interviewer asks about alma mater. Who asks about this 20, 30 year later?? It is silly, but it happens.
- Alma mater is listed on my resume which is included in a proposal. People reviewing proposals notice, and bring it up in the casual conversation that occurs prior to the formal "sales pitch." I get noticed for that, and because of that, others on the selection committee flip to my resume, and I get the opportunity to answer questions about my experience (and hopefully convince them to select my team).
- Alma mater comes up in casual conversation before a business meeting (usually in the context of local sports; I root for both of the local teams as I rarely have a dog in that fight...) and some new colleague who was previously dismissive at having another consultant at the table all of a sudden perks up - you can visibly see the change. They end up giving more credibility to my contribution to the meeting (whether or not it is justified, I suppose).

All of the above work their way into furthering my career in so many immeasurable ways. Does it directly translate into dollars? I can't prove that either way, but I'm sure it has translated into opportunities, which has surely translated in higher career satisfaction. Was the actual education I received better than if I had attended another school? No way to know, but my assessment is I had excellent classes, average ones, and several subpar classes, and could have had the same educational experience at any mid-tier or above school. But I have never regretted the debt I went into to get that brand name degree. To put this in further context, there is no other area of my life in which brand names, for the sake of the brand alone, have the slightest impact on me. I live in an average neighborhood and drive the oldest vehicle in a several block radius, and have no idea what the current trendy brands are...
Last edited by Saving$ on Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:48 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by soboggled »

mouses wrote:
soboggled wrote:Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" touches on this subject. He concludes that many talented people are lost and discouraged by the fierce competition at a prestigious school but would shine at a good one.
I have a hard time thinking that someone who is discouraged by competition is a potential first class employee.
And we all know that becoming a "first class employee" is what an education is all about.
The point that Gladwell makes is that there are a certain number of young people who decide they are not fit for their chosen profession because they are not at the top of their class, yet at another school they would be. He cites statistics and real life cases to show it. Whether that is outweighed by a superior education or name brands he does not discuss, which is a big weakness in his argument.
My personal opinion is that the undergrad degree matters less than the graduate degree anyway, so you might as well go somewhere you can afford and be competitive for the bachelors and find the best school you can get into for any graduate degree. No doubt it varies by person.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by staythecourse »

njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.

Another move is to crush it at an easier, lower tier school for 4 years, get a high GPA, and then go to a top tier for grad school. By then the student will have a much better idea of what they're looking to accomplish with their education.
Is there any data on that time honored mantra? What if the job you want the head of hiring is from Colgate? Do you think the applicant from Notre Dame still has a better shot?

I think this is an EXCELLENT topic to discuss as I am not sure the accepted dogma has any real data to support it.

Awhile ago someone did post an excellent link where you can look at every college and see what the grads beginning salaries and mid career salaries were. I am from Illiniois and was rather shocked grads from University of Illinois had higher mid career salary then folks from Northwestern AND University of Chicago. So what seems obvious may not be so.

BTW, in my opinion if it isn't HYPS+ MIT I think the rest is all about the same as "impact" factor. When I look at resumes everything all looks the same unless one of those stick out. Again just my opinion, but that is the issue with this issue EVERYONE has their own opinion without much real data.

Anyone out there have any real data?

Good luck.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by kdsunday »

In my experience, it is more about having a nice network built up through several internships than it is the name on the degree. I would caveat that to say I have worked in government, politics, marketing and public relations. This experience may not be relevant to medical, engineering or technology professions.

There is a study that showed students who have the credentials to get into an Ivy League school do just as well, whether or not they actually attend an Ivy. You can check that out here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/won ... lionaires/.

According to this Fortune article, many CEO's of Fortune 500 companies did not get a four-year Ivy degree. http://fortune.com/2015/03/23/college-a ... vy-league/

All that said, it bears repeating that success should be defined by the individual. For some, working at a prestigious law firm or financial institution is the ideal profession. For others, it would be a fate worse than death.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by njboater74 »

staythecourse wrote:
njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.

Another move is to crush it at an easier, lower tier school for 4 years, get a high GPA, and then go to a top tier for grad school. By then the student will have a much better idea of what they're looking to accomplish with their education.
Is there any data on that time honored mantra? What if the job you want the head of hiring is from Colgate? Do you think the applicant from Notre Dame still has a better shot?
No, if the head of hiring is from Colgate, they might be partial to hiring people from Colgate. Go Raiders.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by staythecourse »

njboater74 wrote:
staythecourse wrote:
njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.

Another move is to crush it at an easier, lower tier school for 4 years, get a high GPA, and then go to a top tier for grad school. By then the student will have a much better idea of what they're looking to accomplish with their education.
Is there any data on that time honored mantra? What if the job you want the head of hiring is from Colgate? Do you think the applicant from Notre Dame still has a better shot?
No, if the head of hiring is from Colgate, they might be partial to hiring people from Colgate. Go Raiders.
And that is the crux of this discussion. There are SO MANY subjective, i.e. luck involved in ones advancement in their careers which have really nothing to do with any more then being at the right place at the right time or vice versa. I just don't know how much is really controllable especially with the mantra of "Just go to a name school".

Also, I am a bit cynical and think the push to these high end schools is all about $$$. It is just another merchant trying to separate money from the consumer without any real gauranteed benefit. Maybe I'm wrong, but just want to see some data to support their cause. Higher education in this country has become a business (and a lucrative one at that).

Good luck.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by alfaspider »

staythecourse wrote:
njboater74 wrote:
Another move is to crush it at an easier, lower tier school for 4 years, get a high GPA, and then go to a top tier for grad school. By then the student will have a much better idea of what they're looking to accomplish with their education.

Awhile ago someone did post an excellent link where you can look at every college and see what the grads beginning salaries and mid career salaries were. I am from Illiniois and was rather shocked grads from University of Illinois had higher mid career salary then folks from Northwestern AND University of Chicago. So what seems obvious may not be so.
Many of the surveys that rank salaries for all graduates of a given college exclude alumni who went to graduate school. This results in heavy skew at schools where a majority of students go on to graduate schools. Also, it gives undue weight to schools that primarily focus on engineering, which is one of the higher-paid professions that does not require graduate education. A U.Chicago student who chooses engineering may do just as well as a Colorado School of Mines engineer, but the latter school will show higher average salaries because most of the students at Mines do engineering, while the Chicago numbers mix in many liberal arts majors.

Second, the argument that a student could either "crush" it at a lower-tier school or be middle of the pack at an elite school ignores the tremendous grade inflation at elite schools, and the countervailing tendency to do "weed-out" curves at many lower ranked schools. This happens in undergraduate schools, but it was a HUGE factor in law school. At elite law schools, you pretty much have to write something completely incoherent to get below a "B" (if the school gives traditional grades at all- Harvard/Yale/Stanford don't). Many lower tier schools have a forced curve to a "C" with only a small handful of students allowed to get "A"s. For this reason, and because the students are competing for a smaller number of job opportunities, the lower-tier schools are actually much more competitive.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by mmmodem »

Yes and no and it depends on the career and major. For example, I used to work at a small advertising company. We specifically avoid big name high dollar university graduates as we've been burned before. We hire and spend the time to train them and they leave to work at big name companies. Hiring local state colleges provided more stable employees.

At my current job which is very niche, we hire mostly from famous schools. With my cheap community college and transfer to a state university degree, I have zero school loans. However, I worked on a project in college that my current boss delivered materials to. When my name came up, I was chosen for the interview even without the big name eventually hired. All my coworkers have school loans from their school. I max out my 401k.

My take is, if you can afford and it makes sense for their career path, pay for the expensive school. Otherwise, state university is fine.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by stoptothink »

BolderBoy wrote:
Five wrote:Any thoughts or real life examples?
My basic thought is that is 99% the student and only 1% the school that matters.
This is my basic thought, but IMO there is no way to prove it. You are going to hear a million anecdotes in this thread, and none of them are going to be relevant to your individual situation (mine as well, but I'll tell it anyway). I spent 3yrs at one of the top public universities in the world before completing my undergrad at a much less known school (I transferred because of football, was offered a better opportunity at school #2), then for grad school I chose Houston over Cornell and then stayed at Houston for my PhD when I had some much more prestigious options. The financial package offered by the school was a HUGE factor, probably #1; I was determined to complete my education completely debt free, and I did. At 35, having finally really gotten into my career, I do not believe I have been held back career-wise by the fact that there are no Ivys or Stanfords on my resume, even though there very well could have been. I do know that for my recent job I was hired over a handful of Ivy and Stanford grads. I also have a sister whose CV includes Brown, Oxford, and finally NYU and she has struggled mightily professionally.

IMO, for specific fields, the school can be quite important, but for the majority it really isn't. Successful people are going to be successful. For our children, we are definitely going to encourage making costs a major consideration (ie, possibly 2yrs at CC and then state schools) - then again, we are also in the "skin in the game" crowd. I guess we'll see in ~20yrs if our opinions were correct for our situation.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Da5id »

I went to the big name schools (undergrad and Ph.D). I think it helps but in a limited way. I think a more prestigious undergraduate school helps getting somewhat getting into graduate schools, and probably helps getting a first job. Word is that it is essential in some fields (e.g. law) to go to a top tier graduate school. Seems to help in politics too. I think it is likely to give you a better network (e.g. MIT vs state school say) that lasts for life.

That said, in my current job I don't know where most of my co-workers went and don't care. For hiring people not right out of school we mostly don't care where then went, we mostly care how they did in an actual field. I think given a choice between state school and no debt and private school and 6 figures of debt, the state school is looking mighty good these days. And I think much depends on the person as said above...
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by njboater74 »

alfaspider wrote:
Many of the surveys that rank salaries for all graduates of a given college exclude alumni who went to graduate school. This results in heavy skew at schools where a majority of students go on to graduate schools. Also, it gives undue weight to schools that primarily focus on engineering, which is one of the higher-paid professions that does not require graduate education. A U.Chicago student who chooses engineering may do just as well as a Colorado School of Mines engineer, but the latter school will show higher average salaries because most of the students at Mines do engineering, while the Chicago numbers mix in many liberal arts majors.

Second, the argument that a student could either "crush" it at a lower-tier school or be middle of the pack at an elite school ignores the tremendous grade inflation at elite schools, and the countervailing tendency to do "weed-out" curves at many lower ranked schools. This happens in undergraduate schools, but it was a HUGE factor in law school. At elite law schools, you pretty much have to write something completely incoherent to get below a "B" (if the school gives traditional grades at all- Harvard/Yale/Stanford don't). Many lower tier schools have a forced curve to a "C" with only a small handful of students allowed to get "A"s. For this reason, and because the students are competing for a smaller number of job opportunities, the lower-tier schools are actually much more competitive.
I don't disagree. Once you're out of the truly top tier, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference on your resume. But if you're a hiring manager and need to filter through dozens of resumes, you take a closer look at the resume with Princeton on it, that's just how it works.

I completely agree about your point about elite law schools, which is why I suggested perhaps going to a lower tier, economical state school, making good grades, and then go somewhere more eye catching for grad school. I went to a top-tier engineering school for undergrad, and there were no free D's. My GPA kept me out of top-tier grad schools, so I went to work instead. Early employers were impressed with the name of the school and didn't ask about GPA, it was fairly easy to find a job.

I'm 20 years into my career, employers don't seem to care about where I went to college anymore, but it helped get me a good start.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by corwin »

Andyrunner wrote:
I am going to go with this. I went to a small regional private school, it has its good reputation, but it was nothing compared to my brother going to Notre Dame. I had to look for jobs, at ND, my brother had jobs looking for him. He easily went to USC for grad school and had many companies fighting for him.
I had a similar experience going to a small private school. I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. However, the school had no networks (alumni or otherwise) to speak of. I have done alright in my career but it was a long, slow slog. It's hard to know how going to a well known university would have changed my life.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

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Topic moved to Personal Consumer Issues.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by VictoriaF »

mouses wrote:
njboater74 wrote:I think it matters if they are in a Nationally recognized school, like the ones you mentioned - Ivy League, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, CalTech, etc. These schools will stand out on a resume, and will have a large impact on their future success.

Once you're out of the top of the top tier, it probably doesn't make much difference. Bentley, Lehigh, Colgate, Villanova -- all fine schools, but they don't really open doors.
+1 Someone from a top tier school has instant credibility.
In economics, it's called "signaling," based on George Akerlof's Nobel winning research. My daughter has graduated from Stanford, which provides her with significant advantages in building her career. It also deemphasizes bequest considerations in my financial planning.

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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Isabelle77 »

My husband and I both attended a top tier liberal arts college. Both of our first jobs were through alumni and everywhere we have moved we have instantly had connections in the form of alumni groups.

Our children attend a small private school, I think a small college will be the best continuation of that experience for them, but they're only in middle school so we will see.
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