Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

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

Post by BlueCable »

Many of the best teachers at my state school were TAs because they actually cared about teaching well, not just doing research.

The best teaching professor I had was Chinese and it was difficult to understand him.

The worst teaching professor I had was a native English speaker and highly regarded in her field.

What I'm trying to say is that TAs vs professors, native-speakers vs non matters much less than many other things. I recently read regarding the English skills of professors. While students thought they learned more from professors with a better command of English, it actually had no effect on their performance.

Actually, as an engineer, having non-native English speaking professors was one of the ways in which college was MOST like the workplace. I've actually spent more time in some jobs speaking to Chinese, European, or SE Asian people than Americans.
nova1968
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by nova1968 »

Generally, it does not matter, however Getting a position with a prestigious Investment Banking Firm like Goldman Sachs, McKinsey etc, or a Military Service Academy will make a difference once you are a candidate for Executive Level or Flag Rank in the Military.
I attended a Jesuit School and got an MBA at a small private school and my boss has a High School diploma.
ks289
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by ks289 »

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?

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.
I agree that high quality data is largely lacking, but the available data does seem to support the fact that the student's ability is probably more important in determining future monetary success than the college they attend.

Payscale data for all alumni (unlike bachelors only data) is below, with the top salaries clearly skewed towards the top schools.
https://www.payscale.com/college-salary ... rs?page=66

Mid career salaries for higher ranked schools including examples you listed.
UChicago (#30 - $117,000)
Northwestern (#62 - $106,000)
UIllinois-UC (#64 - $105,000)

That being said, other studies (Dale and Krueger) mentioned by other posters which correct for SAT score/high school GPA and schools accepted to and applied to show no difference between attending an elite school versus a good school, except for certain groups (certain minority groups, lower income families, and families without college grads).
http://www.nber.org/papers/w17159.pdf
--
IMO, the decision becomes actually very much like KF's approach.
Is your state school highly competitive or not?
Which major?
What are your financial circumstances?
and at least for me, what setting best suits your child/young adult?

The small fish/big pond vs. big fish/small pond arguments in Gladwell's David and Goliath really did not resonate with me, and I think the grade inflation data for elite schools and even the Dale and Krueger data seem to support the fact that elite schools benefit far more than just the top students.
pochax
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by pochax »

the name of the school can definitely open doors (get through pre-screening), but the person him/herself needs to seal the deal.
BlueCable
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by BlueCable »

This question usually turns into a religious argument. For some people, it does matter, for others, no. But you don't know until everything said and done if whatever you choose was the right choice.
MI_bogle
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by MI_bogle »

I think the answer depends on the exact question you are asking. Folks go to college for a multitude of reasons and want different things out of it, so I am not sure this is really an answerable question, at least in broad form or generalities.

Does it matter for job prospects? Career field? Maybe not so much. I think for those things, as long as the school offers acceptable level of instruction and opportunity, most of the success will lie with the student's motivation and abilities. Outside of top-tier influence of going to an Ivy or comparable school in your field, I don't think it matters too much as long as it is an "ok" school, however you define it.

Other things are probably more subjective and/or less quantifiable. How does school type shape your life outside of career? How does the student develop their personality? Going to a community college while living at home probably shapes a young person much differently than moving cross-country and living in a dorm, for example.

How does college choice affect your personality? Your interactions with society? Your social life, including friend circle and spouse (a significant amount of folks meet their spouse in college). For those things, I would say school type matters a great deal. For example, the student experience is going to be way different at Dartmouth in NH than Columbia in NYC, even though they are both Ivy League schools, and both are different than Texas A&M in middle of nowhere Texas, which is way different than Oberlin. And so on and so forth.


Since every thread like this requires an anecdote, here's mine: I went to a Top 25 liberal arts school for undergrad, and then went to the #1 ranked school for my program in grad school. Whether those rankings mean anything is a whole different discussion. Some of the classes I took in grad school had undergrads in them, and I was a quasi-TA for an undergrad-only class. It was shocking to see the level of dropoff between undergrads at the liberal arts to the large state school program. The instructors were superb at both places, but the sense of community, student engagement, and overall atmosphere was very different at each place, as was the general "quality", for lack of a better word, of the undergrads. I think being around really high quality undergrads pushed me (as an undergrad), and that if I had gone to a lesser school, I could have easily gotten sucked into party culture or not pushed myself as hard.
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SmileyFace
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by SmileyFace »

It depends upon career/industry. In some it "might" matter more than others.
Generally - anyone that went to an Ivy League will tell you it makes a difference while those that don't might tell you otherwise :D
Since this post is full of anecdotes and personal stories here is mine:
When my daughter was assessing her choices of schools she was accepted into I made her seriously look at ROI and what school she would fit better into. I challenged her to explain to me how the extra $160K would pay-off (Two of her other choices had slightly less list-price but were much less since they both gave her a merit scholarships which the top schools do NOT do). When her Grandfather (my father-in-law) questioned me as to why she wasn't going to the top school she got accepted to I asked him if he would be willing to pay the extra $160K at which point the discussion seemed to have ended after he raised an eyebrow (I don't think a lot of folks realize how much additional price these schools command - especially for students that can get merit aid at non-Ivy's). Luckily she decided the better fit would be the less expensive school so now we might be able to fund her graduate degree(s) in addition to under-grad.
DTSC
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by DTSC »

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?
I don't know about now, but back in the 80's, if you don't pass freshman Calculus, Chemistry or Physics, you don't graduate. Regardless of who your parents are.
cpw84
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by cpw84 »

It may vary a lot by major/field. I'm 8 years into an engineering job at a major company after getting my BSME from Ohio State. If I were to change jobs, I would list my degree and university, but I hardly think my GPA is even relevant anymore. That's the thing, after getting actual work experience, the college you went to matters less and less. Nobody who knows what they're doing should care what I, at 31 years old, did for a project in my freshman engineering honors class. They should ask how I have added value for my company, how I have interacted with customers, and what kind of worker I am.

So yes, it matters in the short term, but I can vouch for at least engineering that what you know matters more. I kind of love that about my field actually. You either know how to do it or you don't, doesn't matter as much who you know or where you went.
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StormShadow
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by StormShadow »

Five wrote: Overall, looking at costs and quality are what I am interested in. Does it matter......Yale vs. Ohio State?
Yale vs. Ohio State... yes, it matters.
Michigan State/BU/UConn/[insert non-top 10 Ivy League school here] vs. Ohio State... no, it doesn't matter.
alfaspider
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by alfaspider »

cpw84 wrote:It may vary a lot by major/field. I'm 8 years into an engineering job at a major company after getting my BSME from Ohio State. If I were to change jobs, I would list my degree and university, but I hardly think my GPA is even relevant anymore. That's the thing, after getting actual work experience, the college you went to matters less and less. Nobody who knows what they're doing should care what I, at 31 years old, did for a project in my freshman engineering honors class. They should ask how I have added value for my company, how I have interacted with customers, and what kind of worker I am.

So yes, it matters in the short term, but I can vouch for at least engineering that what you know matters more. I kind of love that about my field actually. You either know how to do it or you don't, doesn't matter as much who you know or where you went.
It's true that school matters less and less as you gain experience. The difficulty is getting that first entry-level job that can act as a building block for getting good experience. I couldn't have gotten my current job without the first job out of law school. I was only able to get the first job because the school I went to was a "target" school for recruiting at the firm.
KlangFool
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by KlangFool »

Folks,

A) Person A "cash flow" 3 of his children through NYU and John Hopkin University. Then, he gave 200K to each of his children before they graduated

B) Person B is 60+ and took money away from his retirement fund and co-signed the student loans for his children to go to private colleges. He and his wife had to continue working in order to support the family.

Most of us are somewhere between (A) and (B). Let's assume that we can afford the 240K. Now, the question is between

1) Spend 120K and give the next 120K to our children.

2) Spend the 240K

Can the university justify the difference of 120K? Which option will do more good for our children? That is the question.

KlangFool

P.S.: To each its own. It is your money and you get to choose how to spend it. You get to decide whether it is worth it. Please do not be like many of my peers. Choose to pay for private colleges and whine about the costs at the same time.
Last edited by KlangFool on Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Morik
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Morik »

In terms of what you actually learn, I'd say the student matters a lot more than the school. That said, a school with better teachers & a community more focused on learning (vs, say, partying) may provide a better outcome than a party school with mediocre teachers.

But that is hard to gauge...

In some fields the brand of your school may impact your ability to land a job with the big players in that field.
In other fields the brand of your school is irrelevant.
Jags4186
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Jags4186 »

I think it definitely matters for certain disciplines and first job opportunities. The fact is though, your first job can say a lot about where all your followup jobs are.

Say you want to go into finance or consulting. Top companies only recruit from top schools. Try getting a job at Deloitte after graduating from a 3rd tier or regional university or college. You won't even get you resume looked at. Once you're in the job, its your performance that matters, but you never would have had it from the get go if it were not for the school you went to.

That said, anyone from any school can be successful, I just bet the path people become successful on looks different if you go to a top 25 college or university vs random regional school.
cpw84
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by cpw84 »

I guess in some of these fields where the school matters more, I have to ask, is there such a huge difference between the top companies and firms and those at a slightly lower level?

Some kids might be happy going off and earning crazy money. Some might prefer a more laid back college experience and decent money. For that it would depend more on the student.
jridger2011
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by jridger2011 »

Yes, it does matter and it largely depends on the student and the chosen field of study. There is also no guarantee that the major chosen would be the major they graduate with. A lot of people change after the first year.

If the student wants a research driven, academic path in life, the school and the professors who drive those research projects matter.

If the student wants to learn something STEM, it may not matter as long as the school has a pathway for internships. The key is internships or co-op opportunities.

If the student wants a job at a big bank or big consulting firms some day, the school matters very much.

If the student wants to be a school teacher, I would not spend more than State Univ money on a degree in K-12 teaching.
KlangFool
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by KlangFool »

cpw84 wrote:I guess in some of these fields where the school matters more, I have to ask, is there such a huge difference between the top companies and firms and those at a slightly lower level?

Some kids might be happy going off and earning crazy money. Some might prefer a more laid back college experience and decent money. For that it would depend more on the student.
cpw84,

1) You are assuming that they know what they want in lives when they are 18 years old.

2) The student would not know any of this.

3) Parents are co-signing the loans.

The reality is the parents are making the decision and accountable for the loan and decision.

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

Post by Constant Chaos »

ks289 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?

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.
I agree that high quality data is largely lacking, but the available data does seem to support the fact that the student's ability is probably more important in determining future monetary success than the college they attend.

Payscale data for all alumni (unlike bachelors only data) is below, with the top salaries clearly skewed towards the top schools.
https://www.payscale.com/college-salary ... rs?page=66

Mid career salaries for higher ranked schools including examples you listed.
UChicago (#30 - $117,000)
Northwestern (#62 - $106,000)
UIllinois-UC (#64 - $105,000)

.
Fascinating! If you are full pay at UChicago and Northwestern, your costs are double that of UIllinois-UC(in state). For essentially the same outcome.
mrsevansc
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by mrsevansc »

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.
This was my plan but it turned out to be the wrong move for me. I was completely unprepared for grad school and really struggled to catch up during the first year.
stoptothink
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by stoptothink »

mrsevansc 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.
This was my plan but it turned out to be the wrong move for me. I was completely unprepared for grad school and really struggled to catch up during the first year of grad school
What makes you so certain that going to a more prestigious school for undergrad would have prepared you better for grad school?
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by jabberwockOG »

38 years many of which were spent interviewing and hiring technical (primarily programming and systems development) job candidates. We interviewed and hired candidates from elite schools and Ivys as well as from various state schools. Some of the best and ultimately most successful folks we hired attended state schools, or a low tier school like DeVry. I specifically remember hiring one of the DeVry kids as he now runs a consulting company he founded that has well over 2k employees. I also specifically recall hiring a Stanford grad that was exceptional primarily for being an unimpressive performer given their high end educational background.

In the end, in the US, a college education provides you with exactly what you put into it in terms of effort, passion, and motivation regardless of the school attended.

Having said that some of the very top tier schools can be wonderful places for folks that fit and that don't have to financially gut themselves to attend. Our son applied to engineering program at Harvey Mudd. We would have loved to see him attend there because it is a very small school with an excellent teaching and living environment, but he was not accepted. He ultimately went to a high ranked very competitive state school (full tuition scholarship from the engineering dept) so it worked out in the end.
Last edited by jabberwockOG on Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Pajamas
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Pajamas »

Yes it matters, although not for every student. Rarely is going to a top school going to be a hindrance, but it can often help. One of the biggest advantages for a high-achieving students is being around other high-achieving students and the top schools usually have more resources and more opportunities for learning. The quality of discussion in a classroom depends on who is sitting at the desks, just like the quality of conversation at a meal depends on who is sitting at the table.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by kjvmartin »

I went to a very bland/nondescript school ranked about #200 nationally and I graduated in 2007. What an economy to try and land that first job!

Interviews were sparse, and the university wasn't helping much. My first and only interview was a success. Guess where the director went to school. My run-of-the-mill alma matter. I also had a very good internship (required by my degree program) and it offered a wealth of experiences I could apply directly to the interview questions.
texasdiver
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by texasdiver »

High school teacher here who advises a lot of college bound seniors.

The answer is that it completely depends on your future career path. Generally speaking, people go to college for three basic reasons: (1) to earn a pedigree, (2) to earn a job certification, or (3) to actually study a topic.

Many of the most elite careers in the US are pedigree-based. Law, finance, business consulting, and academia are mainly interested in pedigrees. You can be the most brilliant student on the planet but unless you went to the right school (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford etc.) you won't even get an interview at top law firms or wall street finance firms. Same goes for academia for the most part. If you want a tenure track teaching position at a good university you best not get your PhD at the wrong school. Each academic field seems to have a group of about 10 schools that are the top ones that aren't necessarily the Ivys. For example, for Oceanography you should be going to places like the University of Washington or UC San Diego and not Princeton or Stanford.

Many middle-class careers are certificate based. Teaching, nursing, many allied health field jobs, accounting, and so forth. School administrators hiring teachers are going to look to see that they have the right certification and will look at experience but aren't going to be particularly concerned about which school you went to. Same for fields like nursing. In many instances, going to a respectable regional school might actually be better than going to some distant Ivy where employers might actually question what you are doing. And since it is doubtful many of them will have top Ivy degrees they won't be so impressed by them.

Many middle-class careers are also regionally based. If you dive into the mid-levels of business or government in many regional cities outside the Washington-Boston corridor you will find the great majority of workers are actually grads of the local regional and state universities. Mid-level jobs in Seattle are full of UW grads. Mid-level jobs in Minneapolis are full of UM grads. And so forth. So if your aspirations are more modest and you live outside the NE corridor then a good regional state school might be your best bet as it will provide the biggest alumni network from which to look for jobs and internships.

Finally there are those rare individuals who actually go to college to seek knowledge for knowledge's sake. The folks who want to study esoteric academic pursuits like ancient languages for example. In those cases you are best off seeking out the best people you can find to study with. Wherever they might be found.
mouses
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by mouses »

soboggled 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.
And we all know that becoming a "first class employee" is what an education is all about.
We're talking about jobs here. If all one wants is to be well educated, they might as well hang out at a big library and work at McDonalds.
DetroitRick
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by DetroitRick »

It's impossible to answer this in absolutes. And I certainly agree with one of the prior comments that it's MOST critical to fit the school and the student. After all, flunking out of Harvard probably won't help anyone very much. But the other thing worth considering is the value of the contacts made at the institution you choose - again this matters much more in certain professions than others. Politics, medicine, business and law come to mind though - certain colleges and universities will make for an environment where friendships and alliances (fellow students and professors) will be made that will be of tremendous career benefit. In many cases, for life. Not all schools are equal environments in this regard.
KALS
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by KALS »

The choice may vary depending on the major. Big state schools may be as good a choice for engineering or science degrees as a private school. Perhaps not so much for political science or history majors.


Check the career services office to see who interviews on campus. That might be a good indicator about reputation of the school or its connections with employers. History majors at Dartmouth or Harvard will have more interview options than those at University of New Hampshire or University of Massachusetts. That does not mean the UNH or U Mass grad is not as capable, just fewer institutional connections opening doors.
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ClevrChico
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by ClevrChico »

The fancy school will have a better alumni network and connections. Other than that, I don't think it matters much.

DS has ivy league level degree. I started at community college. I make slightly more money.
scooterdog
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by scooterdog »

Very good discussion here.

'How can you tell that someone attended an Ivy-League school?'

'Don't worry - they will tell you.'

IIRC there was a salary study that compared Ivy-league vs. good 4-year schools, and the effect of a higher salary from the Ivy-league education disappears after two or three years.
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Tycoon
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by Tycoon »

Nope.
Emotionless, prognostication free investing. Ignoring the noise and economists since 1979. Getting rich off of "smart people's" behavioral mistakes.
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joe8d
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by joe8d »

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.
:thumbsup :thumbsup
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Post by bogleenigma »

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

Post by investing1012 »

acura301 wrote:I'll answer your question in a general sense -- it depends upon what your child wants to study and what his/her goals in life are. I work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and I completed my associate's degree at a community college, a bachelor's in an unrelated discipline, a bachelor's in nursing, and a master's in nursing at state institutions. My friend in the same town as me has 10 more years of experience than I do and a master's degree from Yale and makes about $10k less than I do each year. My other friends in healthcare, including physicians, have essentially the same experience. A physician who graduated from an Ivy League school has a slight edge up in residency matching, but unless you're choosing a highly competitive specialty like dermatology or surgery, no one cares. What matters are your grades, your references, and your interviewing skills. My psychiatrist colleagues who graduated from the local state institution or the ones who graduated from Ivys or almost Ivy's make the same salary at our agency, with differences only based on experience. This same message is true among my friends who are pharmacists, optometrists, etc. Having a degree from a higher level school does make an incredible difference if you have ambitions for academia, however. My wife has a master's degree from Vanderbilt University and her grad degree from an "almost Ivy" has in no way positively affected her ability to obtain teaching jobs in elementary education. In one city in which we lived, in fact, it hindered her, as there was a strong preference to hire from the local state university. My friends in engineering have the consensus that a degree from an Ivy or almost Ivy makes some impact on getting one's first job, but afterwards it is virtually meaningless. In business or law, the experience of my friends is that where you go to school makes a huge difference in your ability to get into the best grad programs, which in turn largely determine your trajectory professionally. I don't think I can speak to other professions.
When I was interviewing for medical school, at my Johns Hopkins interview (top 2 med-school) there were many more students from Ivy league schools at my interview session than from lower ranked schools. The best bang for the buck are the top state schools (ie UC Berkeley, University of Virginia) which are equivalent to Ivy in terms of reputation but at a much lower cost.

I also disagree with the above poster, the medical school you go to very much matters on residency placement and your residency placement affects your future career options. I know this as a physician.
SpaceCowboy
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by SpaceCowboy »

So what's the metric?
Without a doubt if you're aiming for an elite outcome, President, Supreme Court Justice, Nobel Laureate, Fortune X CEO, Senior professional in professional services (law, consulting, I banking, etc.), founder of a unicorn, going to an elite clearly makes a difference. Don't sell you or your kids aspirations and ambitions short if there is the opportunity.
Want to be successful or respected in your profession and life, doesn't really matter. You can succeed from anywhere.
Seems like this topic gets debated endlessly on this board and everyone has their own prejudices based on their life experiences.
RoadHouseFan
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by RoadHouseFan »

Most kids would be better off pursuing military or trade/vocational training. Highbrow daycares, private schools and "elite" colleges are a massive waste.
stinkycat
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by stinkycat »

stoptothink wrote:
mrsevansc 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.
This was my plan but it turned out to be the wrong move for me. I was completely unprepared for grad school and really struggled to catch up during the first year of grad school
What makes you so certain that going to a more prestigious school for undergrad would have prepared you better for grad school?

I have taught at an ivy league school (as a visiting professor) and my normal job is at a directional state school. If I gave my standard exam at the ivy league school, the class average would probably be a 95. I had to hit the ivy league students with the hardest possible questions to get a decent curve.

I agree that outcomes depend on your field. If I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse, I would see no reason to pay $60k per year. On the other hand, at the ivy league school economics can be a pre-wealth major since many of their students became investment bankers. That just doesn't happen at the directional school. Also, pedigree helps if you want to become a professor, going to an elite school can help you get into a good graduate program which can help you get a good first job. However, if you don't produce in your first job, outcomes can be much more variable.
cpw84
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by cpw84 »

KALS wrote:Check the career services office to see who interviews on campus. That might be a good indicator about reputation of the school or its connections with employers. History majors at Dartmouth or Harvard will have more interview options than those at University of New Hampshire or University of Massachusetts. That does not mean the UNH or U Mass grad is not as capable, just fewer institutional connections opening doors.
Great advice. Some employers tend to hit the same feeder schools. Sometimes proximity matters more than reputation, as I have seen my employer likes having a pipeline from the local college and invests in programs there for that purpose.
lightheir
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by lightheir »

Going to a top-tier Harvard/Stanford/etc. is no golden ticket, but it definitely signals to a employer or recruiter or peer, that you have a certain level of capacity that has been realized at some point. It counts for a lot, and it lasts for life.

If you have a degree from these schools, it signals that you are willing and able to run with the absolute best and brightest of your peers in the world at that time in your life. It's worth a lot more in intangibles than one can explicitly count with paper or money, and it's a differentiating factor that you will benefit from for life, even if it's not in terms of direct dollars.

I went to one of such schools, and I can say that it was a unique experience that would be hard to capture in a different institution. It has its fair share of flaws, and is far from perfect, but being academically challenged to your max while surrounded with equally and more gifted peers is a singular experience. To me, the peer group experience was THE most important factor at such a top school. It wasn't that I got a job by rooming with a future Mark zuckerberg or anything like that - it was seeing and working with other students that were considered 'top standard', and realizing "hey - I'm every bit as good as they are!" in most cases (and in a few cases, realizing "wow - I have NO chance against these few true geniuses in their field!")

That said, I def think it is not required, and that a long history of career success will outweigh that initial degree in almost every case. But the earlier you are in your career, the more it counts, and it will definitely open doors to you early on that would ordinarily be closed.

Most of these super-elite schools don't cost any more than other private schools, and the price gap between them and public schools has narrowed quite a bit as well so usually you're not paying a huge premium just to go there.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by ERISA Stone »

Two things I have learned from experience and observation:

1. A masters degree from a highly regarded school has gotten me several interviews that I otherwise likely would have not gotten. I couldn't even get return correspondence from the same employers (at lower ranking positions) when I graduated from my local state university.
2. I have many friends that were in fraternities. I chose not to join one. When one loses a job, they are not unemployed for very long. There is usually someone in the fraternity with the right connections to help them find employment.

Assuming my children don't have concentrated interests (or no interest in college in general), I will try to guide them towards going to a prestigious college, and encourage them to find a frat/sorority.
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beyou
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by beyou »

Regarding the state undergrad/elite grad idea, one factor I considered, not everyone wants to or needs grad school.
CS and engineering majors often go right to work with no absolute need to go back to grad school.
Having hired often, I am usually more impressed with the grad students, but not so sure how much is the degree
vs the fact they are older, more mature applicants, probably both. But a tech degree from a rigorous undergrad school,
like an MIT etc, would certainly open up many doors without the grad degree, but of course not all doors.
Some people have had enough academia by the age of 22, some love school and never want to live.
My way of thinking, was that if I can afford it, I want to give my kids either choice.
Decided to spend on undergrad, and let them decide work vs borrow for grad school.
They may end up with some debt, but they will end up with great career prospects and income to payoff the debt.
If they decide no to grad school, at least they will get employment, though maybe lesser options, but with zero debt.
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HomerJ
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by HomerJ »

njboater74 wrote: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.
Depends on what field you are talking about. In careers where expertise, experience, and actual skills matter, no one cares if you went to Princeton.
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HomerJ
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by HomerJ »

Jags4186 wrote:Say you want to go into finance or consulting.
This may be true. But see my post above.
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HomerJ
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by HomerJ »

Pajamas wrote:Rarely is going to a top school going to be a hindrance, but it can often help.
Crippling debt can be a hindrance.
One of the biggest advantages for a high-achieving students is being around other high-achieving students
The top 10% at State U all end up in the same classes. No matter where you go, there will be plenty of high-achieving students to interact with.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

HomerJ wrote:No matter where you go, there will be plenty of high-achieving students to interact with.
I have sons that are at Rutgers and Yale. Their experience is different than your assertion, at least in percentage terms. There might be as many high-achieving students at Rutgers as at Yale, based on the massive enrollment, but the percentage of high achievers at Yale is close to 100%, Rutgers much lower.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by stoptothink »

TomatoTomahto wrote:
HomerJ wrote:No matter where you go, there will be plenty of high-achieving students to interact with.
I have sons that are at Rutgers and Yale. Their experience is different than your assertion, at least in percentage terms. There might be as many high-achieving students at Rutgers as at Yale, based on the massive enrollment, but the percentage of high achievers at Yale is close to 100%, Rutgers much lower.
I don't see how anybody can disagree with your assertion, but I think you are misunderstanding HomerJ's perspective and I'm not sure how relevant "percentage wise" is. Having no experience with Rutger's, I can still say with pretty good certainty that anybody in their honors program will have plenty of brilliant people to interact with. Out west, ASU is considered a joke and often referred to as a glorified junior college as it is one of the largest universities in the country and exceptionally easy to gain admission to; still, their Barrett honors college is exceptional and (I think) attracts more national merit finalists than any other institution and has garnered countless awards. You can have an exceptional peer group wherever you decide to go and you can also interact with the wrong people at an Ivy (just ask my sister), it really is up to the individual.
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HomerJ
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by HomerJ »

TomatoTomahto wrote:
HomerJ wrote:No matter where you go, there will be plenty of high-achieving students to interact with.
I have sons that are at Rutgers and Yale. Their experience is different than your assertion, at least in percentage terms. There might be as many high-achieving students at Rutgers as at Yale, based on the massive enrollment, but the percentage of high achievers at Yale is close to 100%, Rutgers much lower.
Let's say there are 1000 people at Rutgers who are high-achieving, and 9000 people who are "average".

The 1000 people will be in a lot of classes together, especially the smaller upper-level classes. They will have plenty of other high-achieving
students to interact with...

They will not be taking a lot of classes (other than some huge freshman lecture hall classes) where 90% of the students in the class are "average".

Instead, even though they go to a school full of "average" people, they will spend the vast majority of their class time interacting with other "high achieving" students.

Just like Yale. At 25% of the cost.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by soboggled »

Some stats show that those who go to a middling school have more professional success than those with corresponding test scores who go to an Ivy League school.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by cheapskate »

texasdiver wrote:High school teacher here who advises a lot of college bound seniors.

The answer is that it completely depends on your future career path. Generally speaking, people go to college for three basic reasons: (1) to earn a pedigree, (2) to earn a job certification, or (3) to actually study a topic.

Many of the most elite careers in the US are pedigree-based. Law, finance, business consulting, and academia are mainly interested in pedigrees. You can be the most brilliant student on the planet but unless you went to the right school (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford etc.) you won't even get an interview at top law firms or wall street finance firms. Same goes for academia for the most part. If you want a tenure track teaching position at a good university you best not get your PhD at the wrong school. Each academic field seems to have a group of about 10 schools that are the top ones that aren't necessarily the Ivys. For example, for Oceanography you should be going to places like the University of Washington or UC San Diego and not Princeton or Stanford.

Many middle-class careers are certificate based. Teaching, nursing, many allied health field jobs, accounting, and so forth. School administrators hiring teachers are going to look to see that they have the right certification and will look at experience but aren't going to be particularly concerned about which school you went to. Same for fields like nursing. In many instances, going to a respectable regional school might actually be better than going to some distant Ivy where employers might actually question what you are doing. And since it is doubtful many of them will have top Ivy degrees they won't be so impressed by them.

Many middle-class careers are also regionally based. If you dive into the mid-levels of business or government in many regional cities outside the Washington-Boston corridor you will find the great majority of workers are actually grads of the local regional and state universities. Mid-level jobs in Seattle are full of UW grads. Mid-level jobs in Minneapolis are full of UM grads. And so forth. So if your aspirations are more modest and you live outside the NE corridor then a good regional state school might be your best bet as it will provide the biggest alumni network from which to look for jobs and internships.

Finally there are those rare individuals who actually go to college to seek knowledge for knowledge's sake. The folks who want to study esoteric academic pursuits like ancient languages for example. In those cases you are best off seeking out the best people you can find to study with. Wherever they might be found.
Great post !

From my personal experience working and interviewing in silicon valley, for CS/EECS and related majors, employers don't really care where you went to school. Your performance in the interview is all that matters. And once you get past the interview, there is no difference in the compensation package between students who went to state schools or elites.

Secondly, attending state schools is no impediment to getting interviews. Companies like Google are now making a concerted effort at reaching out to top students in second tier universities. They realize there are excellent programmers at these second tier colleges too.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

HomerJ wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:
HomerJ wrote:No matter where you go, there will be plenty of high-achieving students to interact with.
I have sons that are at Rutgers and Yale. Their experience is different than your assertion, at least in percentage terms. There might be as many high-achieving students at Rutgers as at Yale, based on the massive enrollment, but the percentage of high achievers at Yale is close to 100%, Rutgers much lower.
Let's say there are 1000 people at Rutgers who are high-achieving, and 9000 people who are "average".

The 1000 people will be in a lot of classes together, especially the smaller upper-level classes. They will have plenty of other high-achieving
students to interact with...

They will not be taking a lot of classes (other than some huge freshman lecture hall classes) where 90% of the students in the class are "average".

Instead, even though they go to a school full of "average" people, they will spend the vast majority of their class time interacting with other "high achieving" students.

Just like Yale. At 25% of the cost.
HomerJ, would that it were so for my R kid. The problem isn't the smaller upper-level classes, where he is around peers. The problem is the huge classes (which happens when you have >35k undergraduates), and there are many of them.

Whereas, at Yale, son is also among peers in upper-level and graduate CS/Math classes, but when he's taking a (relatively) easier course (Intro Anthropology, for example) to meet what Y calls a distributional requirement, the class is taught at a high level and the students are of a high caliber. He benefits from that.

R is the right place for my son right now, for any number of (mostly non-academic) reasons; we are not griping. He does spend some class time with other "high achieving" students; I just don't agree that it's the vast majority of class time.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: Does it matter what type of college one goes to?

Post by oilrig »

Great responses so far. I think a lot depends on location. If you live in Houston, then the big state schools like: University of Texas, Texas A&M, and University of Houston are likely to open a lot of doors at Houston companies especially at the big oil and gas companies. Whereas graduating from a top tier liberal arts school in the Northeast like: Grinnell, Bard, Drexel etc wont do much for you in Houston. Conversely in the northeast they wont care as much that you went to Texas or Texas A&M.

I went to a lesser known state college with the reputation as a "party school". Graduated with a low GPA (something Im not proud of). Well after 4 years of work experience in my industry, I busted my butt and at 29 years old was making 200k with an awesome fortune 100 company. Im doing much better financially and career wise than my friends who went to more prestigious colleges. However, Im a much harder worker and have more drive/ambition than them.

The more prestigious colleges may open more doors initially right after graduation, but after that the rest is up to the person and their drive/work ethic. After your first job out of college, your work experience and network matter more than the college you went to.
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