How did your college's prestige affect your life?

<p>When this was posted there were three threads on the front page using the word prestige. This is ridiculous. To help applying students get a better grip on how much prestige actually matters - please post your alma mater and examples of how your undergrad college's prestige helped you or wasn't a significant factor in different areas of your life.</p>

<p>Famous-name-womens-LAC followed by Top-10-for-my-graduate-field-famous-name-U:</p>

<p>I get to go to alum events that don't involve football.</p>

<p>Years ago, a classmate was offered an immigrant visa when she was renewing a temporary work permit in New Zealand.</p>

<p>In my prestige obsessed neighborhood, people slam on the brakes if I wear my undergrad or grad school sweatshirts. So I wear the one from the home-state public U where I studied between those degrees instead.</p>

<p>I struggle almost daily with the knowledge that our family can't afford the kind of college I attended for our child. That she's delighted with her (not common) major at our community college doesn't make up for feeling that somehow, somewhere, her father and I have gone horribly wrong.</p>


<p>The name has opened some doors for me. While it didn't help me succeed in job interviews - I had to do that on my own - it helped me <em>get</em> job interviews. It's one of a number of things - notice that I'm not claiming that it is the only thing - that can help you stand out from a crowd of similar job applicants. It helped me get a fellowship-funded overseas internship that has impressed subsequent grad school admissions committee members and hiring managers - the coordinator played up the college that I was from when forwarding my app around and asking if anyone was interested in taking me on as an intern.</p>

<p>I've seen similar effects for others. A friend in a fairly crowded field, with a low GPA, recently got a job, in the bad economy, after only a couple of months of looking. When she got invited to the interview, her contact told her, "We love MIT people!" I've also seen the contrast between the job searches of my school-mates and I, and the job searches of my fiance, a brilliant man with top grades from a mid-rank state university. Or those of my non-MIT friends. It is an edge, though not in any way a make-you-or-break-you one.</p>

<p>It's not the only factor out there, and it's not the most important. It's a nice little bump, though. It's less important than the prestige-crazy people say it is, and more important than the anti-prestige camp says. :)</p>

<p>This will give you meaningless data, or basically whatever confirms what you already want to believe about prestige U. First, you are doing what we scientists in my field call "sampling on the dependent variable"- but you need to get data from both those at prestige U and those not at prestige U. Even that won't help that much because unless posters have lived two lives identical, except one at non-prestige U and one at prestige-U its impossible to answer. </p>

<p>We can all make up reasons why things happen to us in our lives...and few of us have any idea how it would have been if we took a different path.</p>

<p>My experience is a bit different than most. I attended a good quality, but not prestigious state university that had a particular strength in my field. While the name of my alma mater may not command as much respect as other universities, the fact that I worked with some of the biggest names in my field gave me fuel to impress people at job interviews and resulted in me getting two different jobs in part based on assumed competence resulting from my connection to the school.</p>

<p>I guess the lesson I take is that the name power of a university means a heckuva lot less than the reputation of the department you are affiliated with.</p>

<p>The most important advantage is that I am not especially impressed when someone tells me they attended a 'fancy name' school. I withhold judgement until I know something more substantive about them.</p>

<p>The primary advantage is that those who are impressed by schools will give you the benefit of the doubt when assessing your abilities. It might get your foot in the door, but nothing after that, and certainly it carries less weight the further you go in your career. But the alumni network from grad school has been useful-I will acknowledge that connections have helped me find jobs-but I'm not sure that connections at any grad school might have been sufficient in this regard. No control group to check, right?</p>

<p>You can't rely on anecdote information.</p>

<p>Everyone is unique... </p>

<p>Obviously it has intrinsically higher value since universities is already a preselection process.</p>

<p>It's mostly the individual that gets the job. The university doesn't make the person.</p>

<p>When I mess something up simple people say...oh god this Stanford guy can't even do xyz. Oh and many people ask me how is Stanford and many confuse it as an Ivy. But I'm just a sophomore so can't really say how much more it affects in the world of employment. Also, since I spend most of my time in college, its clearly not as big a deal there.</p>

<p>Great question; I've actually done some research on the subject!</p>

<p>I tried interviewing for the same job twice, once playing up my degree from a "normal" school and once with my diploma from a "prestigious school," and boy was the reception different</p>

<p>Long story short, my "normal" interview didn't go so hot and I ended up passed out in my underwear in a ditch next to the highway. The second interview, based on the "prestige" school, concluded with me being offered a better position than that for which I applied, and also I was in a hot-tub filled with champagne at the time eating caviar off of a supermodel, and then a bunch of F-22 fighter jets buzzed over in a salute to my new job while I made out with Natalie Portman (who was there) and like you'll never believe what happened next! One of the fighter jets landed and I said to Natalie, "you looking for a ride" and put on my sunglasses and the pilot tossed me the keys to the jet (needless to say Natalie fainted at this point) and I hopped in with Natalie and we took off and I fired all these missiles and did a sweet barrel roll and then said "let's blow this joint" and pushed the eject button, "swooosh" we exploded out of the plane and gently parachuted down onto the lawn of the White House where Barack Obama himself shook my hand and offered me a job of "chief prestige advisor" and in conclusion I think the prestige college made a big difference.</p>

<p>To clarify, this thread is not meant to attract only posters from prestigious schools. If you didn't go to a school that is widely considered prestigious, please post how this did/didn't affect you as well. Aka, they didn't go to a prestigious school but have been very successful.</p>

<p>I know people like to be private - but if you're comfortable please provide specifics such as your GPA, major, geographical location of story, and range of your school (top 40-50 USN public, HYPSM, top 20 USN etc)</p>

<p>While there is obviously alot of problems with the data in this thread, it will still be useful. The people on CC probably have more in common than they think. After all they have a personality in which they choose to frequent this site.</p>

<p>I think waldo-pepper just sealed it.</p>

<p>People who don't go to a prestigious university who say that prestige doesn't matter one bit say this because that way it seems more likely that they will be successful.</p>

<p>People who do go to a prestigious university who say that prestige doesn't matter one bit say this because that way their own successes can be attributed to their own "greatness" rather than to the boost/aid of the school behind them.</p>

<p>Both explanations have an enormous element of selfishness behind them, which undermines anyone's argument of why prestige is not so important.</p>

<p>(Please note that this same type of analysis can be done on the opposite point of view. The main point here is that all opinions should be taken with a shaker of salt, and that no simplistic viewpoint is going to be optimal).</p>

<p>I do think there is a 'virtuous cycle' of graduates from highly ranked universities preferring to hire graduates from similarly highly ranked universities. I am working at a policy institute in which more than half of the hires fresh out of university are from Ivy leagues. I asked some people about this, and they said that they traditionally recruit from these universities. I have an engineering degree from a medium-ranked public university and a business degree from Switzerland, and my application was initially rejected before I was contacted later for an interview. I can't find a causal link here, but from my discussions with others, I get the feeling that prestige is a pretty important part of how people are evaluated, and there are certain sectors that care more about these things. </p>

<p>I had a similar experience when I interned for an investment bank in the UK; most other students who were selected for the final interview were from Cambridge, LSE and Oxford. An interviewer told me they normally aren't very impressed with students from Swiss universities, and I ended up being the only 'Swiss' student selected for the program. I'm not Swiss anyway, so I think one way you can increase your chances is to study and live in multiple countries. This way, the recruiters may be more likely to assume that you offer some unique skills that you picked up in these respective countries.</p>

<p>Also, if you can't afford any ivy league education, it may be more important for you to study practical degrees like engineering or business. If you look for careers in business, engineering or banking, there's more emphasis on how much you contribute to the company's earnings, so these are things you still have control over once you're on the job. I hope this helps.</p>

<p>Neither one of my parents went to college. My mom was a waitress and did catering on the side my dad was basically orphaned in Oklahoma and survived by the kindness of strangers for whom he worked as a farm hand never knowing where his next meal would come from, or if it would come, until WWII changed everything for him. He joined the navy and stayed in for 28 years. After that he had odd jobs and lived off his pension. He then basically gave up and slept on the couch all day and watched TV. </p>

<p>I never got a word of life advice from anyone. Not a parent, sibling or guidance counselor. I was a lackluster high school student with barely above a 2.0 GPA even though I went to a great public HS in ritzy, well-off, Winter Park, FL. </p>

<p>So, when HS ended, I didn't have a clue. I didn't even take the SAT or ACT because I didn't even know what it was. My best friend went to the local CommCollege so I was like........"uh, okay," and signed up for classes too. It was amazing. It cost practically nothing, anyone got in, and despite the negative stereo-types, for the first two years, it was a top notch education. I started to catch on and figure out what all the "smart" kids back in HS had been talking about. I started to kick ass in school. </p>

<p>I transferred to FSU in Tally. </p>

<p>A football school with a party rep. Had outstanding teachers and small classes. I majored and then mastered in accounting. I passed the CPA exam on the first sitting. </p>

<p>My schools rep has helped me every time I've applied for a job. Yes, it is a party school but in this part of the country, and even in Texas, when I took a job I desperately wanted out there, the name carried just on recognition. No one thought less of me and I am sure it helped that I had a CPA license which proved I was legit and sort of validated the schools I had been too. </p>

<p>I graduated with $8,000 in debt for the whole ride and lived in dorms the entire time although not always on the meal plan. My dorm room at FSU cost $167 a month. Very little debt and no trouble getting jobs. For example, I once moved from my home town, WP, near Orlando, to Miami with no job. I sent out a bunch of resumes before I left, this was before the Internet was common, so I used a phone book I found at the public library to get Miami addresses. Anyway, I had a job within a week and I found a place to stay. Granted, it was two FL cities. It might have been different if I had moved to Cali but even there I think people recognize FSU's name. </p>

<p>I will say this -- I did apply for some Cali jobs later and didn't even get a sniff. So, my schools prestige, again even as a party school, carried some weight but not across the country. In Atlanta, yes, in LA, no. </p>

<p>Good luck. Study hard. Look at value and don't get into crazy debt in this economy which is going to be bad, job wise, for a long time.</p>

<p>I don't think the state college I attended has hurt or helped--other than helping to develop my charming personality, hahahahaha.</p>

<p>However, DH is a West Point grad with 27 years of service; he's now been retired nine. I am certain his training helped him throughout his career although he was not one to tell you where he went to school. Additionally, his current boss is a West Pointer as are a number of his colleagues. Those guys stick together and I reap the rewards.</p>

<p>I did my undergrad at a top 10 engineering school (public) which was considered very strong for my major, but not a USNWR top 20 school. This resulted in tremendous on-campus recruiting and >10 job offers before I graduated. Admittedly, this was a period of high demand for my major. So, you can say that the prestige was high amongst those that mattered to me (those that would hire engineers). My alma mater is well respected by my company and I have been with the same company ever since, so I have not tested whether the prestige has had a lasting effect in the job market. My assumption is that it helped with the 1st job and would have helped if I had job hopped in the early years of my career, but at this point it really doesn't matter. </p>

<p>We did consider prestige within her major for my daughter's undergrad choice. She plans to get a PhD immediately following her bachelor's degree and we felt that it was important for her to attend a school that is in the top five for her field. This is because it would provide her the best undergrad research opportunities and letters of recommendation from top profs which is important for getting into a top PhD program. If you are planning a career in academia, then you have a much better chance of landing the job if you get your PhD from a top program.</p>

<p>"prestige" (more the fact that many top finance employers recruit at columbia) definitely greatly helped me land a prestigious and high paying internship my junior year summer and then a high paying full time job, both on wall street in this economy. Many of my friends even with gpas south of 3.5 have landed trading and investment banking jobs and could easily earn north of $100,000 their first year out of college. Some were pretty average candidates in my eyes, but the bank was just used to interviewing and hiring many columbia kids. It seems absurd and incredibly unfair, but it's not untrue, some might call it luck, some might call it personal greatness, but it seemed pretty clear to me that some of these kids would have no shot landing such a job if the employers didn't recruit so heavily. At a company presentation once, I just met the Columbia alum analyst and networked the **** out of him and got him to give me a trading interview, I might have gotten this interview anyway, but I pretty much sealed getting the interview in the first place because of the networking.</p>

<p>I too can comfortably say that I would not have placed as well as I did in this economy and a significantly less prestigious school.</p>

It might have been different if I had moved to Cali but even there I think people recognize FSU's name.


<p>As a UF alum, I hate to break it to you but most people do not know the difference between UF and FSU and think they're the same school.</p>

<p>I went to Rice, but for me it was my major in Elec Eng that opened doors. When I graduated engineers were in high demand and women engineers in even higher demand.</p>

<p>My son is at CMU and he got a summer internship after his sophomore year for two reasons - the right contacts and the coursework he completed. The CMU name helped, but without the inside contact and without the major and coursework that matched the job description, he wouldn't have gotten the job. I think CMU provided the coursework, though. At a state school he would still be taking prereq's in his sophomore year. At CMU he was well into courses in his major.</p>

<p>I don't know if my undergrad would be considered to have prestige or lack of prestige by this board's standards, but it has never affected me either way, and since I've gone to graduate school, I doubt it ever will.</p>