As it is spring, many of my co-workers’ children are anxiously awaiting acceptance letters from the colleges they applied to. The biggest worries I hear from the parents is the costs. And why wouldn’t it be? College tuition has skyrocketed , while student loan debt has outpaced other forms of debt. My son is not even two yet, but I’m a bit of a planner so I wonder what the costs will be for my son in about 16 years. With the rate tuition has been increasing, college will not be affordable for the majority of people. I have a feeling though, that the college tuition and student loans are in a bubble which will burst much like the housing/mortgage bubble. The costs are just unsustainable. Mark Cuban also thinks that there is a tuition bubble and you can read some of his reasoning on his blog. Nevertheless, the price of college will always be expensive. But is going to a big name college, no matter the costs, a good idea?
Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be
Even though it has been many years, I still remember fretting about scoring high on my SATs, getting high grades, and padding my resume with extracurricular activities so that I could get into a good school. Because getting into a good school would determine the jobs I could get, the money I would make…ultimately it determines how our lives will turn out. Right? Well, Frank Bruni argues that this is not true in his book published recently titled “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania” While going to a big name school will undeniably provide some networking value and look good on a resume, these benefits are probably overstated. He contends that motivated kids can get a good education almost anywhere they go, and lists successful Fortune 500 execs, Pulitzer Prize winner, among others, who went to public universities and schools that don’t have major reputations.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a journalist and author who is a college expert, wrote an interesting post regarding this issue, saying:
It matters not at all where they got their degrees but rather what they did with their time in the colleges they did attend. It matters what kind of person they are, how persistent they are, how hard they work, how creative they are, and how they present themselves.
I couldn’t agree more. Ultimately, a hard-working, intelligent and ambitious student will make the most of themselves and become successful no matter where they go to school. Furthermore, if you equate earning power to success, I think the major you choose is sometimes even more important. Another statement that Mrs. Shaunghessy makes which I found quite intriguing is that:
Sometimes the poor kid who had to pay his way through Chico State has the most pluck and is the most driven. These types of employees are sometimes the most successful of all, because they are used to working hard from the get-go and did not come by anything in life through their dad’s connections. They have no sense of entitlement, so are willing to get their hands dirty for the mission.
I’m not sure if all employers will have this mindset, but if I was in charge of hiring, I would feel the same way. I think many times those students who have grown up with many obstacles, but are able to persevere and overcome those hurdles have the abilities to be successful. I was accepted to a relatively “big name” university, and did receive some scholarship money to help out. However, it was still expensive and my father said that we could not afford it. I can’t say for sure if my career path would have been different if I had gone there, but I did go to law school so my undergrad degree probably wouldn’t have been as important. What would have been a certainty, though, is that I would have much more student loan debt. Both my wife and I went to public universities, and I would have no problem sending my son there. Of course, if he is accepted to the “big name” school and we had the financial ability to send him there, I don’t know if I would deny him that opportunity if he really wanted to go. But, going to a big name school no matter the costs is just not a good decision.
Do you think going to a big name college is a requirement to have a successful career?