👑 What is prestige?
U.S. News, Forbes, and countless other websites rank colleges by a variety of factors every year. The most "prestigious" universities in America such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and a few dozen more top the list. For the longest time, attending these universities was a clear indicator of success in later life. However, is that notion still true?
Top-ranked schools boast $100 million+ in endowments, high graduation rates, and high salaries after graduation. However, this is only a small part of the picture. In reality, the students who attend top 30 schools tend to be wealthy, meaning they have fewer barriers to success. The Equality of Opportunity Project says that "more students come from families in the top 1 percent of the income distribution than the bottom half of the income distribution," in selective schools. Those schools often do have connections, an expansive network, and many resources, but at the end of the day, college is what you make of it. Pursuing interests and opportunities, meeting new people, and receiving a quality education are what matter.
Payscale.com calculates a “20-year net ROI" for over 2,000 colleges and universities. The U.S. Military Academy, SUNY Maritime College, and Colorado School of Mines are in the top 10 on the ROI list. When looking at the Forbes or U.S. News rankings, those schools are not in the top 10. The highest-rated Ivy is Princeton (#15). A Brookings Institute analysis found that the schools that had the most value (mid-career earnings) included a few prestigious schools but no Ivy Leagues.
❤️ What Matters in Choosing a College
Having a good faculty does not mean anything unless a student takes advantage of their experience. The professor, class, college, or program is not nearly as important as the student's desire to make the most of their time somewhere. Taking the knowledge, connections, and people and applying it is crucial.
This includes research, extra classes, internships, fellowships, job opportunities, and countless more parts of the college experience.
Every student has the ability to thrive in college through studying, applying their knowledge, meeting new people, and becoming a better version of themselves.
Weather, proximity to family, mentorship opportunities, career advice, graduation options, study abroad, and so much more!
💼 Business Majors
The CEOs of the 10 biggest companies in the Fortune 500 mostly attended state schools for their undergraduate degrees.
Inc. magazine’s 2020 list of the fastest-growing private companies shows that no leaders in the top 10 companies attended an Ivy League school as an undergrad.
Top management consulting firms (McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company) almost exclusively hire those with good GPAs, an impressive resume, and a degree from a Top 30 school.
🤑 Finance Majors
School prestige matters for those wishing to study finance.
In client-facing roles, analysts from highly ranked colleges (Harvard, Stanford, Penn) are preferred over those attending lower-ranked schools (such as a state school). There are many successful students from schools such as UCLA, UVA, and UMichigan, which are considered 2nd tier. It is not impossible to work on Wall Street with a lower-tier school, but can prove to be very difficult.
🏥 Pre-Med Majors
The school name does not matter to most medical schools in the US. Your GPA, MCAT score, extracurriculars, desire to pursue medicine, and your long-term goals will help get admission into good medical schools. A student with mediocre activities from an Ivy League school is nowhere near as impressive as a student from a state school who pursued research and scored well on the MCAT.
Undergraduate education is a transitionary period to prepare for medical school. Choose a school that best allows you to learn and thrive as an individual.
Important factors when choosing a pre-med school:
- Fit: Are the location, major options, proximity to important places, weather, and more things you like? You'll be spending at least 4 years at school, choose one that will make you happy.
- Cost: Many people currently in the medical field preferred to attend a school that was more cost-effective and decreased the burden on their families.
- Opportunities: Are research opportunities, hospitals/clinics, and extracurriculars accessible? These will become vital when applying to medical school.
🤩 Examples of Standout Colleges
- Eckerd College produces the largest number of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ernest F. Hollings Scholars.
- University of Wisconsin has produced more Fortune 500 CEOs than Harvard.
- Juniata College has 100% placement rates for medical and law school.
- Centre College: According to their website, “All students... are guaranteed an internship or a research experience, study abroad, and graduation in four years. If a student is unable to secure the components of the Centre Commitment within four consecutive years of enrollment, the College will provide up to an additional year of additional study tuition-free.”
- The College of Wooster requires an independent study project to be completed with one-on-one support from a faculty member.