Admit This

The Problem with Prestige

It's what you do when you get there that counts . . . Either way, if you're thinking about college quality in terms of rankings or prestige, you're looking at it all wrong.

That provocative statement is part of an interesting Forbes article by Joie Jager-Hyman.  Here's another:


Simply put, where you go to school is not as important as what you bring to the school where you go.

This article caused quite a stir on the College Confidential discussion forum.  Sample comments there include:

Here's what I think. I think that many people are too caught up in the prestige/rankings factor. I think you can be a success no matter where you go to college. In that respect, where you go doesn't matter that much.

But I do think where you go to college matters in a different way.....certain schools would be a more ideal environment for an individual student. So, it matters where you go to school in terms of finding the most appropriate environment for yourself where you would be happy and thrive.

One example would be if you are a student who is very driven, craves challenge, highly motivated, enjoys being around an abundance of peers with a similar type of drive, you likely would be happpier in a more selective college setting.

Another example is if you have a very specific interest, you would want to find a college program within a university, that excels in that area.

And so on and so forth.

Prestige is not what matters but where you go to college matters for each student and finding the most suitable match is important.

Therefore, the title: "where you go to college doesn't matter" really is not true overall......and it depends on how you interpret..."doesn't matter"....doesn't matter in what respect?

And . . .

Where someone goes to college depends on the person, duh, right? But still, you have to realize that there are many students that want to go to top college to learn, not just earn a prestigious degree and name (I am one of these). I've been rejected at Stanford and MIT this year, but I didn't want to go because of the prestige (granted, that is a plus ), instead, I wanted to go because I knew I would learn from the very best in the field of engineering and that I would be with students with similar mindsets to me. Not a prestige wh0re and I'm not an "Ivy or bust" kind of person either so I have little worries about rejection.

If offered the opportunity to attend a top school, why not take that opportunity? In a way, I do agree with an above poster who stated that this article is written to make people who were rejected feel better. Had those people been accepted, they wouldn't worry about having to attend a less prestigious university.

Of course, students who attend top tier universties aren't guaranteed success and those who don't aren't guaranteed "non-sucess" I'm going to say (these terms are very relative). But, a degree from a top tier university will go a long ways in helping succeed, both because of the brand-name and because of the education and experiences a student will have at the school.

What do you think?  Feel free to join the College Confidential debate.

Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.