Each year, high school seniors nervously complete their college applications, with dreams and high hopes of getting that acceptance letter in their mailbox. That time between submitting your application and receiving a response is an anxiety-filled period that seems to go on forever. But, in the end, does it really matter where you’re accepted and where you ultimately choose to go? The fluffy, polite answer is no… but that’s also the wrong answer.
The truth is, there are some things that change when you’re accepted into and attend a more prestigious college. And, with many elite colleges almost bragging about how few students they admit, while receiving more and more admissions applications, the pressure is on to nab one of the few coveted spots in those institutions.
Yes, it does matter where you go to college… And, here’s why:
You’re more likely to see financial and professional success in your future
Although it is tough to show a direct correlation between elite schools and a certain level of success, there does seem to be a strong relationship. Students graduating from more prestigious schools generally have higher incomes, usually giving them the best return for their educational investment. Only about 2-5% of graduates annually are coming out of elite schools, but over a third of Fortune 500 company CEOs and more than 44% of billionaires graduated from top schools.
You’re more likely to complete your degree and graduate
Even if all else is assumed to be equal between different colleges, those elite schools do have one easily measurable advantage; And, that is that they have the highest rates of graduation. Acceptance into college, or potential future success means nothing if you’re unable to actually complete your education. There are a few theories about why this is the case, including the fact that, because they are more selective, elite colleges will inherently take in more motivated students who are more likely to graduate.
On the flip side, there are some reasons why it really doesn’t matter at all which school you choose to attend.
No, it doesn’t matter where you go to college… And, here’s why:
Your future professional success isn’t limited by the school you attend
Students who have been accepted to prestigious colleges, but opted to attend another college typically end up earning the same as those who chose the elite college. What this shows is that, your professional success and earnings aren’t dependent on what college you graduate from, but rather what qualities you possess that caused you to gain acceptance to those colleges in the first place. In the end, it’s not graduating from the college that makes you so attractive to employers, it’s the attributes you possess that will draw them to you, regardless of what college you choose.
Your costs of attending an elite school may outweigh the advantages
What good is attending an elite college and taking on higher debt that will take you substantially longer to pay off, if you’re not going to see similarly higher earnings? For some colleges, that could mean over $100,000 in tuition costs, which would take years longer to pay off, even with a significantly higher salary as a result of graduating from a top school.
In the end, it all depends on what your goals are for the future, as to whether or not it matters where you attend college. Graduating from an elite school does have it’s clear benefits, but sometimes those benefits don’t carry the same weight for each person. Depending on your goals for the future, coupled with the resources you have at hand, you’ll have to decide whether or not it matters to you where you end up going to college.