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

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.

The Ivy league is a sports league and most people can’t name the schools in a conference (unless it is their own conference). When asked to name Ivy league schools, many put in MIT, Stanford, Penn State, NYU, Williams, etc, if they are thinking academics and not sports.

But it doesn’t matter. If you like the school and think that it’s right for you, that’s all that matters.

Both the UT and TAMU systems probably each educate more people than the entire Ivy League combined. How many Ivy Leaguers can name more than two or three UT campuses?

I think that about sums up this whole thread.

Most people would likely have a hard time naming more than one or two state universities* in any state other than those that they live in or have lived in for a significant amount of time.

*And in many states, “University of [state]” and “[state] State University” are very likely guesses.

No one in our area of Texas can even figure out if New Jersey even HAS a state university. (yes, I know they do…)

I never understood all those big state universities with odd private-school sounding names: Rutgers, Purdue, Clemson, Auburn, etc. I’m sure they all have reasons.

@Camasite From Wikipedia:

Rutgers: Colonel Henry Rutgers donated money when the school was struggling financially.

Purdue: John Purdue donated money to create a college named after him.

Clemson: Founded by a guy named Clemson’s will.

Auburn U: Previously called Alabama Polytechnic Institute. No real reason other than that it “better represented the varied academic programs…”

Most universities with names that aren’t the name of the state are usually named after a major donor/founder (Brown, Harvard, Vanderbilt etc.)

Camasite wrote:
I never understood all those big state universities with odd private-school sounding names: Rutgers, Purdue, Clemson, Auburn, etc. I’m sure they all have reasons.


Strange comment, what is your point? I do like the explanation above on how these schools got their name but have to add many states have a good number of state universities. There can only be one University of Virginia after that they need a different name. James Madison, William and Mary, and George Mason are all state schools (and the list goes on and on).

I personally like state schools that sound like private universities. I hate that in MA almost all the state schools are just the Umass followed by the town name, I.e. Umass Lowell or the town name followed by “state”, I.e. Bridgewater State. I think many people around here don’t even know Clemson, Mary Washington or Christopher Newport are public schools and most would think you are going to some fancy private school in the south.

However, some states have “University of [state] at [location]” when they have multiple state universities. E.g. University of Texas at Arlington / Austin / Dallas / El Paso / Permian Basin / Rio Grande Valley / San Antonio / Tyler.

Or two, e.g. Carnegie Mellon University.

No point. Just that coming from the west coast I always assumed that Rutgers and Purdue were private universities because of their names. I’m sure I’m not alone in assuming that Rutgers is some private east coast school and not the state university of NJ. A place like Rutgers is pretty far off the radar of a Pacific Northwest kid growing up in the shadow of the Pac-12.

Here in the west, named public universities usually have ‘state’ attached so you know. Not that it really matters I guess:

Weber State
Humboldt State

Both of those are named after their counties, I think. But still. It’s not Weber University or Humboldt University.

Growing up in the SF Bay Area, I didn’t know Rutgers or Purdue were public schools too. Maybe in the last 5-10 years I learned they were publics.

I have spent most of my life on the east coast and didn’t find out until I started coming to CC that Cal and UC Berkeley were the same place. Bottom line is that people are familiar with schools that are near where they live.

This is why many privates (USC, Ivies etc.) have the most % of students from their region compared to other regions (or in USC’s case, state.)