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How much does the college you go to matter in engineering?

ntktopntktop - Posts: 91 New Member
edited February 2010 in Engineering Majors
How much does the undergraduate institution you go to boost your chances of getting a job? If you go to a good school like RPI or CMU, will you get a better job with a more prestigious company and a higher starting salary?

I also heard that it's alright to study engineering in a state university, and that you can still get hired but the job isn't that prestigious and you don't get paid as much.

I also heard that you can just work your way up the ladder and eventually after your first or second job it won't matter what college you went to, and that companies will instead look at your work experience rather than your alma mater. Is this true?

But overall it's better to go to a good university to study engineering (more specifically electrical and computer engineering) right?
Post edited by ntktop on

Replies to: How much does the college you go to matter in engineering?

  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,096 Senior Member
    I do not, for the life of me, understand what is so hard about doing quick forum searches so we don't have to beat these dead horses.

    That said, it matters where you go, but not a whole lot unless you want to do grad school. As long as you go to a known school that had good career recruiting, you aren't necessarily going to be at a disadvantage for most jobs. School prestige becomes a bigger factor in grad school admissions, where adcoms are more likely to look past other shortcomings in your application if you came from a renowned program.
    ntktop wrote:
    I also heard that it's alright to study engineering in a state university, and that you can still get hired but the job isn't that prestigious and you don't get paid as much.

    Whoever your "heard" that from is a moron. Some of the top engineering schools are state universities. With the exception of MIT and Stanford, most state schools dominate the top schools list. 7 of the top 10 are public (state) schools and 17 of the top 25 are public. You can certainly get as prestigious of a job as you want from a state school.

    Yes, once you have been in the work force for 5 years or so, it is much more about what you have done/produced in your career than where you went to school.
  • saxsax Registered User Posts: 5,428 Senior Member

    It would be more helpful to new posters if you helped them learn about the options of searching in this forum.

    TO ANY NEW POSTERS: If you go to the control panel and then go to edit options you can set your options (thread display) to see all threads rather than threads from just one month etc. Changing this setting really helps in searches.

    NTKTOP: Re engineering. Not a bad idea to go to a school that is in the area that you might like to live. You will have internships with local companies that like graduates from that school. They may in turn then offer you your first job.
  • kevindaikevindai Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Graduating from a top notch engineering school definitely will boost ur chance of getting ur first job. Because i know for a fact that certain companies will only go to certain schools to look for employees. It is hard to give out specific numbers, for example, going to mit will make you 50% more likely to find a job compare to some1 who graduated from a 2nd or 3rd tier university. But it does help, especially ur first job.
    Of course, it is not a bad idea to study engineering at a state university. Universities like University of Michigan, University of Illinois, Purdue, Berkeley... They are all public/state universities, nevertheless, they all have very strong engineering programs. U of I's ece program ranks 2nd in the nation.
    To answer ur 3rd question, yes, after your first, 2nd job, where u graduate from won't matter that much anymore. Because ultimately, it is about who you are as a person. I know ppl who went to 2nd, 3rd tier universities that end up becoming very very successful engineers.
    Overall, of course, if you are a smart and diligent person, it is always a good idea to go to top notch schools to get your degree, instead of just settle for a 2nd or 3rd tier university. However, if you do decide to study engineering at a top university, be prepared to study long hrs and go through some stressful times.
  • yg7s7yg7s7 Registered User Posts: 876 Member
    But wouldn't getting a good first job lead to getting a good second job, and so on, compared to graduating from a lower tier school?
  • bigtreesbigtrees User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 1,191 Senior Member

    The school doesn't matter much. What makes the difference is your personal drive.

    I had a crappy first job and an even crappier second job. Then I got hired by my current employer and had an ok engineering job. Then I applied for a cool position with my employer and have an awesome job (I fly on experimental aircraft)....

    It just matters what you want in life.

    Now, expensive grad schools will try to sell you on the fact that you'll get a better job after you graduate. Of course, they want to get your money and need to differentiate themselves compared to cheaper state schools. But do I think it makes a difference? nope.

    Also, my company doesn't pay more or less salary based on where a person got a degree from. They actually pay most all engineers the same amount, except of course for yearly raises. This is pretty common across the industry.

    It's not like you will see a Stanford graduate making $120,000 a year while a University of South Carolina graduate only makes $70,000 and they both do the same job.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,096 Senior Member
    Yes it would, which is the advantage of going to UIUC versus U. of Toledo, for example. However, as long as you go to a school that is known at least regionally as a quality engineering school, you can get a good enough job to get that same high quality second job as long as you are a good enough candidate and work to show that. It is harder to do and may take a little longer, but you still can eventually have that opportunity. However, going to the #25 ranked school for your undergrad is not going to be a huge difference from going to #12 or something like that. Both would most likely have plenty of recruiters from around the country. The only time that school prestige matters significantly is for grad school apps or if you want to get into something like ibanking. Otherwise, with the right amount of work and planning, you can make up for many of the disadvantages of going to a less known school.

    If you have the opportunity to go to a top school, then by all means do, because they will have MORE of the top companies there so you will have a little better selection, but it is not the end of the world if you go somewhere that is a little less known. Far from it...
  • yg7s7yg7s7 Registered User Posts: 876 Member
    ahhhh I see. Thanks for the reply
  • chuychuy Registered User Posts: 3,916 Senior Member
    One of the biggest differences the school is going to make is the level of opportunities you have. Some schools are going to have more and better research opportunities than others. Some are going to have more companies recruiting there for interns and for permanent jobs later on. If you go to a great school and don't take advantage of these opportunities you'll still be worse off than someone who went to a mediocre school and did do the research that was available, and did seek out internships even though they might not have been as prestigious, even if the two of you have the same GPA. Do go to a great school if you can since you'll have a chance to do a lot of really great things, but like bonehead said, you're not going to be screwed if you go to a lower tier school. And make sure you don't get caught up in overall school rankings, since how good a school's engineering program is doesn't necessarily correlateA with their overall ranking.

    Anyway, after a couple of years in industry nobody is going to care where you went to school. Engineering is about 'what can you do for me?' and the best indicator for the second company you want to work for is what you did for the first one, not what school you went to.
  • flyingforfunflyingforfun Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    I agree with others that the school you graduate has some impact on your first job, but that is about it. From that point on, experience, performance/results and leadership are the drivers for a successful career -- not where you graduated from.
This discussion has been closed.