Harvard. Yale. Princeton. These are household names that automatically call to mind prestige, molding young minds into the elite earners of the future. These schools are among the best places to pursue a higher education and that reputation brings with it a pretty high price tag where tuition is concerned. Since these institutions are so revered, they see thousands of applicants each year, many of whom do not get accepted for whatever reason. That can be soul-crushing for students who had high hopes for attending one of these so-called prestigious colleges or universities. Costs are also a big factor, with some students unable to attend the school they really want because they don’t have the money to pay the myriad of costs associated with that institution.
This brings up the age-old question, how important is prestige when it comes to choosing the right college? Does your choice of school have a lasting impact on the rest of your life, dictating how much you can really earn over time? Well, that depends.
One of the big reasons many students might be better off at a prestigious school is centered on the fact that those who attend top-ranked institutions are more likely to get advanced degrees. That additional step is what represents a major distinction for choosing one of the more prestigious universities over a school that may not have as high a ranking. But that is where the distinction is most prevalent since a student who graduates with a degree in a certain major from Yale would likely earn the same amount of money as the student who may graduate from a school like Hofstra University. According to studies, it’s the Yale grad who will typically go on to get a Master’s or Ph.D. in their chosen field and that is the primary reason why prestige may have agreater influence on future earnings.
Another determination that makes prestige more beneficial is networking. Majoring in a specific field means you’re probably pursuing a certain career and that job path may benefit from having a prestigious school on your resume. That’s because many schools are tailor made for helping to provide access to companies and high-worth individuals that can play a large role in helping graduates succeed towards their chosen career goals. Since these schools come with a high price tag, they are predominantly attended by students who come from wealth, enabling them to participate in unpaid internships that can provide the necessary work experience to get them in the door at the prestigious companies.
Let’s be honest the best education programs are those that offer what you need the most to pursue the career you want. That might include the prestige that comes with a top-rated school, especially if you’re majoring in business or liberal arts. However, if you’ve chosen to major in engineering, mathematics, science, or technology, just to name a few, you have your choice of schools, prestigious or not, that can get you where you want to be and have you earning the salary commensurate with your field. Spending more money for a name brand isn’t really going to make that much of a difference in those fields and industries and that includes pursuing online programs as well. Click here if you are interested in USC’s online MPA degree option.