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Colleges with true "name recognition"

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Replies to: Colleges with true "name recognition"

  • simba9simba9 Registered User Posts: 2,654 Senior Member
    edited September 9
    Even USC, outside the region, isn't known well and if you used the initials in the south, many would think South Carolina.

    USC is one of the most well-known universities in the country, but mostly for football rather than academics. It's similar to the way people know Notre Dame. When I was a kid growing up in Ohio, USC was the second most despised football rival of Ohio State, after Michigan.

    It is true that if you go to the Southeast, people refer to South Carolina as USC.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,625 Senior Member
    I remember just after graduating high school, someone thought that "MIT" was a local trade school where you essentially learn how to fix TV sets and other electronics (at the time there was such a school near where I lived).

    I think that @gearmom said it best: "In the real world, most people are just getting on with life and don't care where you went. Your work will speak for itself."
  • MrSamford2014MrSamford2014 Registered User Posts: 277 Junior Member
    The proverbial "average person" has probably heard of
    1. Harvard, Yale and [perhaps] Princeton,
    2. the major sports powerhouses, which includes a mix of publics (Alabama, Michigan, etc.) and privates (Notre Dame, USC, Duke, etc.),
    3. his or her state flagships,
    4. other nearby state schools (e.g., the so-called "directional universities"),
    5. and perhaps a private liberal arts college or two in the immediate vicinity.

    If we remove the purely regional bias built in to categories 3-5, then the "random average person/stranger" will have heard of HY[P?] plus the traditional football and basketball juggernauts. These are the colleges with true nationwide "name recognition."

    Said person will probably have a sense that HY[P?] and some of the big sports schools (Duke--"What a great b-ball program!") are for "smart" people.

    However, that won't necessarily mean that he or she will be more impressed by these schools than by other well known but less "nerdy" schools. Based on my experience, for example, I'd say that a hard-core Gator fan from central Florida will be more impressed by learning that you attend UF (or even a hated nearby rival like Alabama or Miami) than by learning that you attend some far off--but occasionally good in football--school like Northwestern or Stanford.
  • Econman2001Econman2001 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Why would anyone care if the "average person" is impressed by where you go to college? In the end, you want a job and to be taught how to navigate a career. If your potential bosses and your professional community is aware of your school, you are only searching for meaningless status! Why waste the money on undergrad when your graduate education will be what matters?
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 14,037 Senior Member
    I consider my mother to be average. She did not go to college, but she did live in Amherst because my father attended. So she knows Smith, MHC, Amherst. She knows Williams because my uncle went there and he's married to someone who went to Pomona. And my mother knows Harvey Mudd because of Jeopardy! and a college tournament winner.

    She also knows all the football schools like Stanford and ND and Duke. She knows the engineering schools because she worked for a big engineering company and paid the expense accounts for the tuition covered by the company. She was in her 70's when she was learning about RPI and Case Western.

    I think most people know the service academies and Notre Dame.

    No 'every man' outside the east coast knows Vassar, and if they do, they still think it is a girls' school.
  • GreymeerGreymeer Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @Flambeau "I'd probably add UC Berkeley and Columbia too."

    I'm going to channel the average guy...

    Q: What do you know about X university?
    A: "Columbia? Where is that at?"
    A: "Berkeley? That hippy place?"
    A: "U California? Their football team is terrible."

    Q: How good of a college is X university?
    A: "Columbia? Where is that at?
    A: "Berkeley? I think that's in California. Dunno."
    A: "U California? It's like Penn State, or Maryland."

    Knowledge of colleges is regional.
  • wisteria100wisteria100 Registered User Posts: 2,976 Senior Member
    I don't think any LAC would be well-known by the average person, except maybe Vassar.

    I agree with the LAC comment, but not sure Vassar would be the most known - probably would be Amherst
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,898 Senior Member
    I am always surprised that people forget the Oxbridge schools. I would say that most people who really aren't aware have probably only heard of Oxford and Harvard, perhaps Cambridge and Yale. As far as famous LACs, my mom thought my daughter should have applied to Radcliffe. Lol! Bottom line, the people who need to know, know. If the point of college is to be employable for better paying jobs once you have a degree, the important thing is the degree, not the name of the college. Higher-end companies will be delighted with a degree from WUSTL or Oxford.
  • hebegebehebegebe Registered User Posts: 1,810 Senior Member
    edited September 9
    I remember just after graduating high school, someone thought that "MIT" was a local trade school where you essentially learn how to fix TV sets and other electronics (at the time there was such a school near where I lived).
    @DadTwoGirls, was that the Missouri Institute of Technology?
  • blevineblevine Registered User Posts: 646 Member
    Yes it's regional. Here in NYC USC means nothing outside sports discussions.
    Penn, Columbia and Cornell mean a great deal to New Yorkers, despite the HYP threads on CC.
    But there are plenty of people who don't know difference between Penn St and U Penn, even so.
    But WUSTL despite being a great school, means little to NYers, outside parents of bright HS students.
    SUNY Binghamton is a big deal here in NY, nobody heard of it elsewhere.

    Sports team success does cause kids to apply, makes competition for admission tougher but
    does that make the school better ? Makes the students better maybe, but not the professors nor
    administration. Villanova is a great example, win national title in basketball, of course applications
    will rise, and name recognition, but that does not cause impact on employment opportunities.
    Not even thought of in the same league academically, right or wrong.
  • GreymeerGreymeer Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @TomSrOfBoston "Prior to becoming a CC denizen .."

    Until I started paying attention to rankings when my kids got older, simply based on experience, I never thought of Texas, Cal, or Michigan as good engineering schools. I didn't think they were bad just OK and typical for large state universities. I mentally lumped them in with other like universities Florida, Tennessee, Maryland. And I work in R&D...in Austin... with graduates of these schools... and I interview candidates.

    When I saw the reputations reflected in the rankings, I was surprised. My experience with the graduates differs from the rankings. The rankings are greatly influenced by research dollars and not the undergraduate product. The thing is, the rankings haven't changed my opinion. I still think they (Texas, Cal, Mich) are just OK. I'd say roughly 50% are good candidates... only 10% are excellent.

    You can tell the difference between kids that went to an engineering school like RPI and the large state schools. They simply work harder and are more efficient.
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,378 Senior Member

    Just try asking an average family member, who isn't an education geek, to name as many top 10 American Universities for academics, according to US News. See how many they can name. In my family I did ask a few people and got between zero and two. Of course that is out here in fly-over country. There is just no reason for people to know or care out here. One person did get Harvard and Yale though.

    Surprisingly, even the person who got none was familiar with the term "Ivy League." I asked what it meant and they said it meant "The best schools." I also asked if they had heard of Harvard, and they said "Yes. That is a great school. I bet it was in the top ten." Try something similar with your relatives and see what results you get.

    As others have said, they did know many of the in-state universities.
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