Why is WashU such a secret?

Completely disagree with the statement that the location of the college doesn’t really matter. Compare a student living in Berkeley with one at Chapel Hill. Totally different college town experience. Using this logic, no one would study abroad since they will be focused on their studies the whole time and not explore the city/country.

In addition, going to college in a certain city might be more favorable for internships and job prospects if one chooses to stay in that part of the country after graduation. The student attending college in and around Boston, NYC, or LA might have better job opportunities than say in St. Louis.

I’ve always felt that it all matters…location, fit, finances, social life, program of study, endowment per student, internships, clubs, on campus recruiting, alumni network, reputation, research opportunities. It’s all part of the college experience for 4 years and shapes who the student will become as they start their career.

Most schools, even the big internationally recognized ones, have a heavy regional bias in their job fairs. Businesses just can’t go everywhere, especially smaller ones. It’s more likely to see a Sikorsky recruiter in Boston than in St. L or LA. SpaceX will recruit more at West Coast Schools. Merck…the midwest. That doesn’t mean a student can’t seek opportunities anywhere they want or that businesses from elsewhere won’t recruit there.


Alas, it often does mean businesses won’t come. They’ve got recruiting budgets and relationships that they maintain, so unless they see some obvious advantage in coming to your neighborhood, you can ask, and they’ll tell you no. My guess is that it’d take some upper-level institutional wooing, which means you’d have to interest administration in opening up those talks. You’d also have to make sure you have enough students who’re really interested. A lot of students go to school in areas they want to stay in, or they’re not familiar with non-famous non-local companies, and it’s tough to pull them away, or it’s clear that they don’t really know what they’re headed into if they say they want to leave. (I’m suddenly remembering, and laughing about, a job interview I once had for a position in Montana just out of undergrad. Some sort of environmental thing. The poor interviewer…I was so cheerful and go-getter, and so utterly clueless about anything she was talking about.)

If a student’s really interested in a company that doesn’t recruit locally, and doesn’t know anyone, the next best is to go to a disciplinary conference with a big job fair and meet a recruiter there, get hooked in that way. But they’re still likely to face “this isn’t how our machine works” confusion on the corporate end, which will be accustomed to receiving kids from the usual recruiting venues.

I’m not sure it is such a secret! Over 33K applicants! My daughter is choosing between WashU and Cornell and leaning WashU!


That’s why I said: “Most schools, even the big internationally recognized ones, have a heavy regional bias in their job fairs.”

Again, that doesn’t mean some businesses from afar won’t come. My son went to school in CA and met with a small PA company that was at their job fair. They eventually offered him a job. It’s still FAR more likely that PA companies will recruit in PA.

Even pre-pandemic, in-person job recruiting had been declining for the last decade. With LinkedIn and Handshake (and other similar recruiting tools) companies had realized there’s much less reason to attend job fairs or visit schools in person. Do in-person recruiting activities still happen? Sure, but they aren’t coming back to the already depressed pre-pandemic levels.

The positive consequences of these changes is that students are far less limited by geography, or the certain set of companies that are visiting X fair/campus, or their own college’s name when they are looking for an internship/job. Rather students contact alumni via LinkedIn to network, and/or reach out to hiring managers directly through a Handshake job post.

I’ve seen students with literally no family connections, or personal network, develop great networking skills, a large database of contacts, and gain internships/job offers completely remotely…again, pre-pandemic. The days of saying go to X school because X company recruits there is just not today’s reality.


I don’t think anyone’s said that here. We’d been talking about employers recruiting regionally.

Fwiw, I don’t know where you are, but I’m at a school with tens of thousands of students, and job fairs are still a major part of job-getting here. I work with students who’re getting ready to apply, and I’d say the biggest routes for the students still in school are family connections, internships, and school/conference-based job fairs. I meet few kids who dig up people to talk to on linkedin (or use linkedin much at all), and handshake here has a lot of flotsam, local wage jobs.

It’s always funny hearing people say “nobody does x anymore” – it doesn’t seem to matter what it is, you turn around and there it is in some incarnation again. I’ve had people get actually shouting angry at me because, to my own astonishment, people still exchange business cards. Little rectangles of paper. I’d have thought that would’ve died decades ago, but nope, go to a conference, even go to a campus event, meet a surprisingly interesting person at an airport gate, and people give you these things. And the crazy thing is they turn out to be useful. So I tell the kids to get some, because it can’t hurt in case someone wants to swap. And I’ve literally had faculty shouting at me about this insisting it wasn’t true, that nobody uses them. Likewise: phones. Over the last year, I’ve had more phone conversations than I’d had in the five years before. With young people, too. I suggest zoom, they want phone.

A thing I wish would die, though: speed dating events in any format.

I think on this site there is a bias toward people assuming everyone want a job only in major metro areas &/or on the coasts. Not everyone desires this & not every well paying job is in DC/NYC/Silicon valley. “flyover” country overall has a much lower cost of living & ones salary will go further here with many high quality of life locations. If you have no desire to live/work in say Boston or SF - it is less important if employers from companies stationed there are at the campus recruiting events. However, multiple quality companies exist in the area between the coasts & there may be less competition to obtain a great position/internship as overall there are fewer “highly ranked” colleges within the midwest/plains region than on the coasts. Sure employers in Chicago may recruit more at Northwestern or UChicago, but IDK beyond this.

St louis has an up and coming start-up and biotech industry. It is well situated at the cross roads of North & South, East & West - directly on the Mississippi river, making it a hub for transportation & logistics/supply chain management. It has proximity to the “bread-basket” of the nation, so has opportunities in agriculture, but also proximity to the energy producing areas of the nation -be it wind, natural gas or oil. It is well regarded in any health care related field , & at or near the top of many rankings for certain medical specialties. The school sent out a brochure last week for admitted students that stated 95% acceptance rate to med school for participants in their Medicine & Society Program (open to any Arts & Science student). Law school acceptance rates extremely high as well. Last year, USNWR showed grads coming out of WashU school of law have higher overall ave starting salary than those coming out of Yale law school. It is a “well -rounded” institution, rather than having a “spike.”

Higher ranking does not always equate to higher salary in all fields. Often it is supply/demand and you will get paid significantly higher in the middle part of the country (if supply is lower) than you would on the coasts where there may be a glut of applicants. This is true for most physicians for example.


Er…I’m here in the middle, and I don’t find this to be accurate. Salaries here are lower than on the coasts, though not as much lower as housing prices are. People don’t generally move here looking for work unless you’re talking about Texas. It’s also a bit of a trap, moving to the midwest, or starting a career here – say you accept one of these lower salaries, buy a house for $210K, and seven years later you want to move to, I don’t know, Idaho, or California, or New Jersey, and you’ve got a family. Where are you going to live? The houses cost upwards of half a million dollars, and your salary will be higher, but not enough higher to cover the difference.

You can’t just reason from a supply-demand curve; people have cultural and emotional reasons as well for being where they are and going where they do.


Absolutely agree and the other thing people forget is that while the cost of living is less where you live there aren’t different prices for airline tickets, or Disney passes, hotel rooms or even college tuition for people that live on the coasts verses the middle of the country.


I would have to respectfully disagree that people only look for work in Texas & on the coasts. Millions of people live and work in the rest of the country. Also, fewer people tend to move into higher COL areas down the road once they have families. It usually goes the other way. Yes housing prices are higher on the coasts & historically there has been a greater increase in price over time leading to appreciation - but you have to be able to afford the down payment & are more likely to live “house poor”. Currently due to increasing taxes - people are tending to move out of high tax areas & so this rate of appreciation is not a guarantee. I personally know many people who have received higher salaries once they moved out of a saturated market (for jobs that required a college degree). These were in fields such as accounting, medicine & education.


Did your daughter choose USC or WashU?

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Guess Duke is out of the question then as NC elected Madison Cawthorn. Rice too.


How many colleges are most high schoolers familiar with? Most high school kids wouldn’t know where Brown is if they hadn’t joined a certain athletic conference decades ago.

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STL also has a good art museum (better collection than any museum in SF) and a terrific park (Forest Park) that WashU is right next to that’s like the Central Park of the Midwest.


Dude, I didn’t know where Brown was till I lived down the street from it. And Felicia…oh, what’s her last name…Felicia the letter-writer, the philosophy prof, used to come to my bookstore with her old-lady pull-behind cart to pick up her stacks of newspapers. Not so nice, Felicia! But a wonderful letter-writer. Ackerman! That’s her name.

I’d never heard of RISD before then, either, but a German boy across the parking lot went there, and I used to go to his architecture lectures with him, even though I’m sure I was obviously too old to be a student. Marvelous lectures. Better than the ones at Brown, if you ask me.

It’s shocking what museums get overlooked. Those 19th-c industrialists did a bang-up job buying up everything on the continent and hauling it home. I want to go back to Detroit after the pandemic wanes to have another go at DIA – I’m still haunted by a Max Beckmann self-portrait there and the whole business is just overwhelming even before you get to the Diego Rivera mural room with its wonderful docents. If you’re of a certain age and from the Rust Belt you can have a marvelous industrial conversation. Worth going to Wayne State for a year or so just to be across the street from that museum and up a few blocks from the symphony.

There’s an Eero Saarinen doc on, I think, amazon prime about the Gateway Arch competition – very good story there too. And I think I’ve mentioned this before but one of my favorite docs of the last decade is The Pruitt-Igoe Myth – what a beautiful, wrenching story of a place.

Yep. Back in the day (early and mid 20th century), the Rust Belt cities were some of the richest cities in this country on a per capita basis. A 100+ years ago, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its day, where the ground-breaking technologies were being invented and where the brightest technical minds and most ambitious young men flocked to.

StL was the 4th largest city in the US at the time it hosted the World Fair.

Anyway, here’s a sample of what’s in SLAM:


The 1904 World’s Fair was held in St. Louis. At the time St. Louis was a major railroad hub and local railroad magnates invested in the exposition. One of them, William Bixby headed its Fine Arts Commission, which in turn inspired and led to the creation of the St Louis Art Museum. His son, Harold Bixby, was the primary backer of Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. Harold suggested the name “Spirit of St. Louis” for Lindbergh’s plane both for the city where the project originated and for the patron sain of Paris, its destination.


Yowza. Well. Good thing the kid has friends at WashU, will have to go visit once the world rights itself.

Yes…we are excited that she was thoughtful in her decision making process and chose WashU over USC, UVA, Miami and UNC