How does the importance of prestigious national colleges vary by region?

Being an elite private college with a large endowment and smaller classes does not necessarily mean that the education is better.

Here is a thread where a student at such an elite private college is disappointed that the content of the courses there is less than that of “equivalent” courses at a relatively economy-class public university:

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Those stats about the NE schools are great - IF people know them. If you have to say “I went to Amherst because it has small classes and the quality of education was better for me because I got a lot out of small discussion classes” then it loses its punch. Lots of student DO go to the elite schools because of the quality of the education and that should be enough for them.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t impressed by my friend who went to Yale (and he really was a friend and I liked him), it was that I wasn’t oohing and aahing when he mentioned Yale.

He did everything he could think of to let us know he went to Yale. It was important to him. We appreciated his education, but no more than those who went to Minn or Wis. I thought that was what the OP was asking - do the elite east coast schools hold the same ‘Aah’ factor in every state. Nope. I’ve lived in 8 states and the local schools get the most attention from the locals. Kids in California want to go to USC. Kids in Atlanta want Emery or Vandy. Kids in Florida want UF.

I’m in NC and I would say most students do go to in state school just because it’s hard to beat the cost+education, but we certainly have students and families that go to all the schools mentioned. I know of folks with kids from NYC (Pratt) to MA (Smith) to FL (Tampa) and more. That’s just off the top of my head.

It seems a little snobbish to say that people in Texas can’t name 4 Ivy League schools? Yeesh.

I really think Ivy League for undergrad can be overrated and expensive. I think grad school is much more important for connections. Go to UNC for undergrad and save some $$ and get a great education and then go to Yale for grad school or a postdoc. I went to high school with someone who did that and he is now very well known and at the top of his field.

It is interesting to hear y’all talk about kids who go to in-state schools and then settle down in the same state. That is not my experience. I know tons of families who had kids who went to in-state schools and then flew the coop for a job on the other side of the country.

@twoinanddone, that Yale guy sounds like the Andy Bernard character from “The Office” who couldn’t stop talking about how he went to Cornell.

“Kids in California want to go to USC.”

Not here in NorCal. Still the choice for Spoiled Children who can’t get into Berkeley or UCLA. Stanford has a wow factor as do some east coast schools (Ivies and MIT, Georgetown also impresses), but not USC. I think it’s partly due to the prevalence of parents who attended Stanford or Berkeley and decided to feel academically superior to USC to make up for losing to them in football.

@socaldad2002 You assume, incorrectly, that those who attend schools like TAMU and UT don’t get a great education. The reason the network is so strong at schools like these is because the overwhelming majority of grads feel strongly that they received a great education and had a great overall college experience - one they fondly tell their kids and grand-kids about. Their educations stay with them for their entire lives. They are not pining about the NE schools and do not think they missed out on anything. Your perception that they did is irrelevant.

I went to the Wesleyan NPC and loaded a bunch of data for a fictitious Seattle family earning $113,000 a year, the median income for families with kids attending the University of Washington. The results were interesting. There is fodder for both sides:

  1. Total expenses were reported as $76,693.
  2. Grant was estimated as $41,727
  3. Net Price after the grant is subtracted was $34,960.
  4. With work-study and loans, the out-of-pocket expenses were estimated at $28,710.

So, yes. One could argue that the grant award by itself may not make a Wesleyan degree as affordable to a Washington state resident as attending UW-Seattle. But, it comes close enough to bring it into the realm of fiscal possibility. The loan amounted to $3,500 for the first year.

That was for a Seattle family with a single wage-earner. Interestingly, when I split the income between two wage-earners, the net prices came down a notch: $33,324 and $27,074 after the loan and work-study were factored in.

And, before anyone else says it, YMMV. I gave my fictional family a $100,000 savings account and a $500,000 home that was 50% paid off.

It took about 10 minutes:

My thoughts exactly. For instance, what about students who prefer the small learning environment of a LAC but are not fortunate enough to live in a state with a good public LAC like the New College of Florida or St. Mary’s College of Maryland? The smallest public college in Arizona has more than 25,000 undergraduates.

I knew going into college that I’d pursue a PhD and that no one would ever care about where I went to undergrad, so I wasn’t worried about prestige. I picked a selective university because it offered some of the best programs in the country in my areas of interest, had a bright, driven, and diverse study body, and had abundant funding, advising, and resources for undergraduates.

It helped that my family was dirt poor, which made it much cheaper than my in-state flagship (UNC Chapel Hill).

D18 attends Amherst College and almost her entire high school class went to college within 50 miles of home. So at least here almost no one knows of it and they are not impressed. If you explain, you risk annoying people.

We have in-laws on the East Coast who are all about prestige and the Ivies and making sure their kids have the best education money can buy. When we shared that our daughter would be attending Amherst College, they couldn’t believe it. They later texted our daughter and asked her if she was attending UMASS. That’s when I knew it carried more weight there.

The hubsy went to UT in Austin and we have been to many graduations in TX so I understand what it means to have that kind of backing when you wear your gear almost anywhere.

One of the funniest comments I received was from an older gent who as we passed each other saw my Amherst sweatshirt and said, “That sounds really expensive!”

My grad school roommate at UW-Seattle was a Harvard grad. He used pretty much every single euphemism he could think of to avoid admitting that he attended Harvard. “I went to school in Boston” “I went to school in Massachusetts” “I went to school back east” etc. etc. But never “I went to Harvard” In the context of grad school at UW with a bunch of west coast public school graduates, he was just vaguely embarrassed to have attended Harvard I think.

Our 3rd roomate in our shared house was from Emory. I had honestly never heard of Emory and I don’t think many others at UW had either. So I don’t think being from a “southern Ivy” without big time sports carries much cachet in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t until much later that I realized it was a really good school.

I’ve found that a masters degree impresses more people than school prestige. It’s a genuinely measurable accomplishment. And it does a pretty decent job of shutting-up the self-absorbed twits at dinner parties.

Along with people who parade Ivy League degrees there is the whole thing with academics who insist on being called Dr. It is especially pervasive in my field of education where a lot of school administrators get EdD degrees often online ones from places like University of Phoenix, and then insist that all the school staff address them as Dr. so and so. I’ve had at least 3 different school principals do that, all with EdD degrees from online schools or minor directional schools. And who supervise teaching staff, most of whom have masters degrees from legitimate institutions. It is kind of a running joke in education.

Camasite-- I bet you also deal with guidance counselors who insist on being addressed as Dr. They got their online doctorate in school counseling and take umbrage that they aren’t somehow on the same footing as a clinical psychologist with a doctorate from a research university!

IMHO, low cost, local popularity, proximity to home and strong sports are the main factors for most Texas families to prefer Texas public universities.

Public schools here tend to be huge and guidance counselors usually have little knowledge or willingness to help students look outside. It’s like a whole sales business.

On average most Texans wouldn’t even know much about Rice, let alone Brown or Amherst.

Most Texans know about Rice, in my opinion, but it’s just a whole different animal than UT and A&M (or Tech, for that matter). In our part of Texas Rice still has a lot of appeal to high level students who do NOT want a large university.

In the past most parents and students thought locally/regionally. I think the majority still do, however, due to the amount of information, the cost of travel, the common application, the proliferation of information, testing and rankings etc., I think there are far more students thinking nationally. When I graduated and each school required a separate application and getting information on schools required going to libraries or writing to the school to request information, it was much less common for a student to look beyond their state or region. There were no weighted grades and students usually took the standardized test once. There were far fewer students with high standardized test scores and fewer still actually applied to college. CC is an unusual group of people. I think more of the parents and students who are looking for information on CC are likely to look nationally. Their students are usually higher achieving and often represent the top 10% of the overall group of students who apply to colleges. This group makes it seem like more people are thinking nationally than really are.

There’s another smaller school not too far from us called Southwestern (Georgetown, TX). It’s more like a LAC than a university, but it also attracts students who don’t want a huge school- especially from other parts of our state.

Yes, but this, too, varies regionally. Just look at the figures on how many college-bound students in each state actually leave the state for college… The variation is enormous. Here in the Midwest, Illinois is a large exporter of college students. That’s partly because the state schools are very expensive and in some cases not that good, but there are also large numbers of high-achieving students in the Chicago suburbs who aspire to top private colleges in the Northeast, and in turn the top Northeastern schools recruit heavily there. In Michigan and Wisconsin, in contrast, relatively few students leave the state for college, or even apply to top private out-of-state colleges. Michiganders and Wisconsinites are proud of their state flagships, and they see little need to go elsewhere. At Michigan in particular, popular programs like engineering and business are truly elite, ranking among the very best in the country.

Here in Minnesota, it’s a somewhat different story. People regard the University of Minnesota as a good school, but not a great one—probably a fair assessment. m For many, that’s good enough. For others, UW Madison with tuition reciprocity is a more attractive option not only for academic reasons but for the college-town atmosphere that’s somewhat lacking at UMN. Some with higher aspirations apply to leading private schools in the Midwest, especially Northwestern and Notre Dame (less so to U Chicago) as well as LACs like Carleton, Grinnell, Macalester, and St. Olaf. Applications to top private Northeastern schools seem to come mostly from a handful of exclusive private high schools in the Twin Cities and a few high SES suburban public high schools, which again are the only schools heavily recruited by top private Northeastern schools.

In general, employers in the Midwest are pretty down-to-earth. They won’t be impressed by the name on the sheepskin (which they may have never heard of anyway if it’s a fancy Northeastern school) so much as the fact that you’ve earned the sheepskin. After that, everything will depend on how well you perform on the job.

It’s an interesting mix around here, and it depends on who you’re talking to.

The general population is a lot of Pitt and Penn State. While they enjoy the rivalry, I think there’s a mutual respect and they jointly look down at the smaller colleges. Pittsburgh has a much greater outflow than inflow, so there’s not a lot of “prestigious” college representation.

I worked at what most here would call an “elite” company, we had a fair number of top college folks, and tended to work with senior executives at clients, so I didn’t see it college attendance as anything meaningful. We’ve been out of school for 25+ years.

My wife took an executive job at a local/regional construction company, and I still remember (10 years later) talking to someone at her first holiday party, when she asked where we went to school. I told her we both went to CMU and she seem positively petrified and quickly wrapped up the chat. I don’t know if she was offended, threatened, scared, etc. It was very weird. I’ve run into seveal other situations where others seem to assume that I assume I’m superior based on college education, 30 years later.

Then again, where you went to high school is still a big deal around here.

And also a lot of prestige, we all know how tough it is to gain acceptance.

Huh? The point is exactly the opposite of snobbishness. It is, in fact, pretty snobbish and elitist to assume that knowledge of Ivy League universities is somehow an indicator of class, culture, and education.

The fact that most Texans cannot name four Ivies tells us about how unimportant the Ivies are for a smart educated Texan, not about how educated Texans happen to be.