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At What Point Do Rankings Stop Mattering?

FullMetal511FullMetal511 Posts: 11Registered User New Member
edited November 2012 in College Search & Selection
This topic came up from a discussion I had with a co worker that was advising another co worker that his daughter should go to--Institution A (ranked about #75 overall) that is half way across the country over Institution B (ranked 120 overall) but is our state flagship school. He said that Institution A was "leagues ahead of" Institution B and it would give her a leg up anywhere in the US.

Now my response was that your school's name might give you an advantage when applying for a job or grad school IF your is in at most the top 25. Also, in fields where prestige matters a lot--business school or law school then you are looking at the top 14, the importance of the school drops by leaps and bounds outside of those schools and outside of the top 25 there isn't much difference.

For programs where prestige doesn't matter as much like computer science or engineering then you are looking at the top 10 programs having any real type of advantage.

Then I said outside of the top schools what matters are the best schools in the area. For example, in Louisville, Ky, a degree from the University of Louisville will carry more weight than a degree from University of Iowa or Michigan State even though both of these schools outrank University of Louisville. UofL is a local school in the area.

What do you think of my reasoning? Do you think that school matters outside of a certain select list of schools?
Post edited by FullMetal511 on
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Replies to: At What Point Do Rankings Stop Mattering?

  • PhilovitistPhilovitist Posts: 2,737Registered User Senior Member
    Alabama's number 75, isn't it?

    Anyway, a ranking of the specific programs would be ideal. A difference of nearly 50 spots is probablg significant. But just the schools? I wouldn't base a decision off of that.
  • HotCocoaHotCocoa Posts: 51Registered User Junior Member
    Hasn't it been proven time and time again that it matters much much more what the student DOES at the school, learns, accomplishes, what connections they make, internships completed, alumni networking they do, etc than where the school is ranked?
  • valeasvaleas Posts: 168Registered User Junior Member
    At the end of day, hard work gets its place at #1
  • FullMetal511FullMetal511 Posts: 11Registered User New Member
    Actually it was Brigham Young University (made a mistake it is ~69) and Institution B is University of Kentucky. She is LDS but doesn't really want to go that far out to school. She is majoring in biology right now. However, she might move to Marketing.
  • FullMetal511FullMetal511 Posts: 11Registered User New Member
    My guess is that between the two schools, it is really the individual that will get the job or position in grad school. I have heard of people getting into top schools at both institutions but really I am guessing they were top individuals to begin with.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,297Registered User Senior Member
    Perhaps check the offerings in the majors of interest at each school, since some schools (whether ranked high or low generally) can be significantly stronger or weaker in specific majors.
  • barrk123barrk123 Posts: 3,457Registered User Senior Member
    BYU is stronger than UK in business
  • MarsianMarsian Posts: 850Registered User Member
    Then I said outside of the top schools what matters are the best schools in the area. For example, in Louisville, Ky, a degree from the University of Louisville will carry more weight than a degree from University of Iowa or Michigan State even though both of these schools outrank University of Louisville.

    Yes! I think this is true in so many parts of the country. I've been on a hiring committee that looked much more favorably on graduates from the state flagship and other area colleges than on graduates from Ivy League schools. Those area college graduates that we hired all turned out to be excellent employees. They also had local connections and had a good understanding of the local culture -- both of which were important to the employer. Other than in academia, Ivy degrees don't carry as much weight outside the Northeast as they do in the Northeast. I think that is true in general for any higher-ranked school outside its own region.

    If my goal were to be a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, however, I would do my level best to get into Harvard Law School!
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,263Registered User Senior Member
    If this is an LDS parent of an LDS daughter, his reasons for encouraging BYU over the home-state U are probably not just about the "ranking". BYU offers a young person the opportunity to live entirely inside LDS culture for several years, ready access to appropriate marriage partners, and extraordinarily low tuition and fees (the cost may be significantly lower than at State U).

    All that said, a potential Biology major is probably better served at State U where he/she will have professors who are not restricted by a specific faith statement. Much of the cutting-edge work in Bio is conducted by free-thinkers agnostics, and (yes I will write it) atheists.
  • FullMetal511FullMetal511 Posts: 11Registered User New Member
    Definitely, happymomof1, when it comes to how well a college fits you and your lifestyle, that is something that goes way beyond rankings. That is something a lot of kids fail to take into account when they are selecting a college.

    That is really interesting, Marsian, I didn't realize how much industries put weight on local Universities. When I was younger, my parents knew some CFO's, Law Firm Partners, etc. It turns out most of them went to a local college.
  • LHSCaryLHSCary Posts: 156Registered User Junior Member
    I would agree with Marsian^^ that IF you want to stay local when you graduate the best bet might be to graduate from the local university--you have the chance to make wonderful connections with future local leaders in business. law, medicine & politics, etc. (That UofL degree is golden in Louisville, I used to live there so I know what you mean :-) ) However, if you want to spread your wings and go further afield you might be better served in the long run to have a degree from a more well known institution, especially in certain fields, like say engineering. (Better to have an engineering degree from a Purdue, GA Tech, VA Tech than Local State U.)

    That said, the fact that the other alternative in this situation is BYU makes this an entirely different issue. As happymomof1 pointed out, BYU offers immersion in the LDS lifestyle, the opportunity to make professional and personal connections that could last a lifetime and, on top of all that, BYU is significantly cheaper than a local college for a member of the LDS church (I challenge anyone to find a 4 year university, private OR public, with a cheaper tuition anywhere in the nation).
  • CreeklandCreekland Posts: 3,015Registered User Senior Member
    I am not LDS, but from what I've seen, BYU has a very reasonable cost and gets many students into top med schools (if that's the eventual goal). BYU has a good academic name.

    Whether a student should go there or not really depends upon the student. I believe they are rather restrictive with their student code of conduct. One has to want to be part of it to not feel restricted. Some students I know who went there loved it, but it's certainly not for everyone.

    Like any other denominational school, there can be pros and cons for future hiring based upon the individual doing the considering. It's illegal to make decisions based upon religion, of course, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen when a degree is right there staring out at you. There are definitely pros and cons - people who prefer graduates - or don't.

    Overall ranking differences? That depends upon the depth of the major and the college more than any overall ranking number. How respected are the graduates in the field (assuming they want a job in the field)?
  • annasdadannasdad Posts: 4,825Registered User Senior Member
    Hasn't it been proven time and time again that it matters much much more what the student DOES at the school, learns, accomplishes, what connections they make, internships completed, alumni networking they do, etc than where the school is ranked?

    Indeed it has. But some people are just very slow learners, it seems.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,297Registered User Senior Member
    All that said, a potential Biology major is probably better served at State U where he/she will have professors who are not restricted by a specific faith statement. Much of the cutting-edge work in Bio is conducted by free-thinkers agnostics, and (yes I will write it) atheists.

    BYU NewsNet - Science professors don't view evolution as an 'either-or' proposition indicates that most at BYU do not see conflict between evolution and (LDS) theology (unlike at some other religious schools with respect to their theologies).
    LHSCary wrote:
    BYU is significantly cheaper than a local college for a member of the LDS church (I challenge anyone to find a 4 year university, private OR public, with a cheaper tuition anywhere in the nation).

    BYU is even low cost for out-of-church students. Cost of attendance is $17,530 in-church, $22,240 out-of-church, according to BYU Electronic Brochure .

    However, South Dakota State costs less at $13,896 in-state, $15,846 out-of-state, according to Cost Estimate .
  • bclintonkbclintonk Posts: 6,484Registered User Senior Member
    Marsian wrote:
    If my goal were to be a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, however, I would do my level best to get into Harvard Law School!

    And there you'd be mistaken. The present Supreme Court has 5 Harvard Law School alums (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Breyer, Kagan), 3 Yale Law School alums (Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor), and 1 Columbia Law School alum (Ginsburg). But since Harvard Law School is almost 3 times the size of Yale Law School, statistically your chances are better at Yale.
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