If you’re a college applicant and you haven’t yet decided among your acceptance offers, you might feel as if your upcoming decision will substantially and permanently determine your path in life.
This feeling might be particularly strong if you’re deliberating between two dissimilar options, for example . . .
- a school with a recognizable “brand name” but a hefty price tag (one that would require you to take sizable student loans) and
- a school with less prestige but a more manageable price tag (one that would entail substantially less debt).
Prestigious schools can be wonderful places; however, you cannot assume that going to one will land you a better-paying job and, in the end, make you “better off” financially. As the New York Times recently noted, “few high school seniors really know what they want to do and, by extension, what they will earn” later in life. A school that would place a heavy financial burden on you and your parents is tough to justify.
However, as the Times pointed out, many students feel they have little choice in the matter. They believe that, in a weak economy, a degree from a prestigious school is the only path to a “good” job.
A recent post from the College Solution addresses this concern. It features the perspective of a recruiter from a “very selective federal agency” that draws from a wide variety of institutions—“small exclusive liberal arts schools, less selective small schools, large state universities, historically black colleges, work colleges, women’s colleges, some Ivy Leagues, some public Ivies, etc.” Click here to check out her perspective.
If working for the government doesn’t sound like your thing, know that, even in business, lesser-known colleges are common pathways to success—many Fortune 500 CEOs graduated from less-selective institutions.
In sum, you shouldn’t feel as if you must attend a well-known college if you’ve received an offer from one. (Such an offer isn’t a winning lottery ticket.) Regardless of where you decide go to college, you will continue to prove yourself once you get there. As you work hard in college, you will become the type of person employers want to hire.