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Does It Matter Where You Attend College? Absolutely!

Does It Matter Where You Attend College? Absolutely!

I often hear from parents, students, high school guidance counselors and fellow educational consultants that it doesn’t matter where you attend college, as long as where you attend is a “good fit”.  Actually studies show it does matter where you attend college!  It’s also important that you are happy and have a great and memorable college experience– a good fit. 

Obviously, there are many people who are happy, quite successful and have had wonderful college experiences without attending Ivy League or highly competitive colleges.  However, in this tight job market, recent college graduates increasingly find that higher paying jobs are very selective.  While attending an Ivy League or selective college may not guarantee financial success or happiness, to buyers of talent (HR professionals, employers, personnel departments) it certainly does matter. One of the first questions they consider while perusing a job applicant’s resume:  where did you attend school? 

(1) A study in the journal, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, confirms parental suspicions that the best route to a top job is to attend an Ivy League school. According to Dr. Lauren Rivera, the author of the study, "Elite professional service employers rely more on academic pedigree more than any other factor. Where you went to school rather than what you did there makes the difference".

(2) PayScale Inc., an online provider of global compensation data, in a survey demonstrated that an Ivy League diploma is still worth its price of admission and tuition. “An Ivy League education makes a job candidate stand out, even before a recruiter talks to them! The median starting salary for Ivy Leaguers is 32% higher than that of liberal-arts college graduates and at 10 or more years into graduates' working lives, the spread is 34%.”

(3) Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, stated:  "Because of the bitter competition for premium salaries, elite educational credentials are often a precondition for even landing a job interview. Degrees from elite schools clearly open doors.” 

Let’s face it.  We live in a competitive, meritocratic and global society where brand, image, prestige and reputation certainly matter.  The answer to the question: does it matter where you attend school, then, is rhetorical.  Still believe it doesn’t matter?  Just ask the record number of students (an estimated 30,000) who apply to each Ivy League school where the rejection rates can be as high as 90% for these colleges. 

Dr. Lowe is President of Pinnacle Educational Center and Managing Director of the Admissions Advisors Group.  He is the lead admissions expert at the Admissions Advisors Group: Woodbridge Admissions Advisors (www.woodbridgeadmissionsadvisors.com) and Greenwich Admissions Advisors (www.greenwichadmissionsadvisors) Tel: (203) 387-1574 | (203) 542-7288

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inquiring mind January 09, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Beyond scaring parents into continuing the hysteria, and subsequently paying you a lot of money, what's the point???? There are not enough spots for all of our kids to attend these elite schools. Period. You need to spin this differently.
Dr. Paul R. Lowe January 10, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Dear Inquiring Mind, Thank you for responding to the article and sharing your thoughts. College admissions is certainly not about promoting hysteria. It is about students (and their parents) who are concerned about their educational future and life options. There have been studies by the U.S. Dept. of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education and recently a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project (See NY Times, January 9, 2013) that highlight the benefits of a college degree, especially during a recession. College admissions like job hunting is competitive in nature...there are only a limited number of spots available. It is also a lesson in life for a student - prepare and surround yourself with the best possible advisors to help you achieve your educational dreams. As far as what you may consider a lot of money, the adage, "you get what you pay for" stands. When you have a medical issue, a disease or a malady of some sort, do you "shop" a surgeon based on how much it costs or do you want the one with experience and the highest success rate? As a professional educational consultant and admissions advisor, who has experienced the competitive nature of college admissions (personally, with my children and with my clients), I view a college education as an investment in one's future. The return on investment - priceless! Paul R. Lowe, M.D

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