Last Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Eric Endlich, PhD
Psychologist and Founder
Top College Consultants
You might be wowed by the name recognition of certain institutions, but there are many other factors to consider when choosing a college. If you’re going to spend four years at a school, it’s important to find the right fit. Consider the following instead:
- Does the college offer the courses and/or majors you're looking for?
- How do you feel about the campus “vibe” or culture?
- Is the cost within your family’s budget?
- How convenient is the location for home visits, off-campus activities, and potential jobs/internships?
- Is the instructional approach (e.g., large lectures, small classes, team-based projects) a good fit for your learning preferences?
Many people assume that a “brand name” degree will open more doors when it comes time to start your career. For certain people like first-generation students (those whose parents didn’t attend college), this may be somewhat true. For most students, however, career “success” is determined more by which field you’ve chosen—some fields offer more opportunities—and what you’ve accomplished during college. In other words, it’s not where you go, it’s what you do while you’re there. For example, students who complete internships or independent research projects may end up with more impressive résumés.
Corporate Manager, Entrepreneur, Author
A "name brand" school can play a part in the connections you develop. The name of your school will open doors for you, and a strong network of alums in high places will give you opportunities that those from non–brand name schools might not get exposure to. However, if you don't have a name brand school on your résumé, don't worry. Your future career success is more about your drive, resiliency, and—most importantly—a track record of results. If you're a high achiever, you will get new and exciting opportunities no matter what college calls you an alum.
Many students and parents believe that attending an elite university is a golden ticket to a prosperous future. But does it really matter where you go to college? For most students, the answer is encouraging: research consistently shows that, in the end, it may be the student and not the school that makes the most difference. While top schools might give students a leg up, the best predictor of future success is, far and away, the students themselves. Factors such as the quality of the student, type of major, and student drive and ambition often determine somone's destiny more than the name of the college they attended. So rather than focusing exclusively on attending an elite school, start by thinking about your major and then seek out the schools with the best fit for your career goals. You can read more about this topic in the article “Does It Matter Where You Go to College?” on MoneyCrashers.com.
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