Does Going To A Good School Really Matter?

These days, it seems like everyone is doing whatever they can to get into the best possible school, from loading up on volunteer hours, to shelling out cash for SAT prep classes, to hiring expensive college counselors. And for good reason; with all the competition out there, we all want to do whatever we can to get that edge when our school days (finally!) come to an end.

But does all that matter? Does it make a difference?
As our friends at Lemondrop recently asked: does it matter where we went to college?

At first thought, I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. On the one hand, people who attend great schools (i.e. the ones U.S. News World and Report rank highly, or those esteemed Ivy Leagues) are obviously qualified, and the amount of work prestigious schools put into giving their students the best possible education is remarkable. On the other hand, there are so many people at “average” schools who have extraordinary promise in their fields and work just as hard, if not harder, than those who attend an Ivy League institution. Maybe they couldn’t attend a more prestigious school because of financial reasons, or because they didn’t truly learn their potential until college started, or because their test taking skills weren’t the best, leaving them with less than stellar SAT scores.

Yet all of that considered, Ivy Leaguers with those cushy names atop their diplomas certainly have an easier time navigating the “real world.” Hiring managers and grad school admissions counselors are naturally awed by their  education and where they received it, and Harvard grads have a much easier time landing coveted positions than their state school counterparts.

But is this the right way to go about things? Who is ultimately a better candidate – the brilliant student who aced his SATs and went on to attend a top school where he simply coasted, or the girl who struggled to make it into a state school, where she worked hard and learned a lot, earned a good GPA, participated in as many activities as possible, and held a few internships?

Getting accepted at a great school is certainly an accomplishment and should be treated as such, but it definitely isn’t everything.  Ultimately, students should choose the school that they feel will best prepare them for the future, a school that has a solid program in his or her area of interest, a great faculty, and the kind of environment that will encourage hard work, because in the long run, what a student chooses to do after being accepted at his or her school is even more important.   These days, it’s all about defining your most valuable skill and pursuing this.  If you’re great at what you do and feel committed to a certain career path, you have a much greater chance of keeping a job than someone who simply attended a great school but lacks passion and/or talent.

I’m not saying that all Ivy League grads are only good on paper, but I am saying that they are not necessarily more qualified than someone who attended a “lesser” school.  College isn’t like high school – you take what you want to out of your college experience.  I believe that we should focus more on the people who take full advantage of the resources they’ve been offered, the people with raw talent and plenty of drive – even if these people couldn’t make it into the Holy Trinity.

What are your views on this issue?  Does the school you’re at make a difference? Should it? Tell us below.

Put This on Your iPod: Alaska in Winter – Dance Party in the Balkans
Put This on Your iPod: Alaska in Winter – Dance Party in the Balkans
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