Why You Shouldn't Waste Your Money on Harvard

Why You Shouldn’t Waste Your Money on Harvard

More and more, where you go to college doesn’t matter.
August 1, 2016
9 mins read

How Beneficial is an Ivy League Diploma?

More and more, where you go to college doesn’t matter.

By Lauren Grimaldi, Roosevelt University

Deciding where you want to go to college is a huge conundrum.

There are so many great schools and finding your perfect fit is important—what is less important, though, is choosing your school based on its reputation. Everyone wants to go to the big name schools, but if you only want to go there for the name on the diploma, then you’re wasting your time.

In fact, most employers do not care where you went to school. It might be something they take into consideration, but the name on your diploma is nowhere near as important as your job experience and work ethic. While going to a more notable school can offer you more opportunities because such schools have more resources, the fact of the matter is that if you are going up against a recent Harvard graduate for a job, your chances of getting it are likely not harmed, so long as you can prove yourself worthy.

Hiring managers and recruiters alike all agree that only your experiences can boost your resume. Of course, going to an Ivy League school or other national respected institution is impressive, but if you do not do anything in your time there, then your alma mater is not much to brag about.

Why You Shouldn't Waste Your Money on Harvard

You are not going to get a job just because you went to a prestigious university, which is why you should choose comfort over reputation. If the other school is lesser known, but there is a greater chance for success, then that’s your better option. The pressure to go to a “prestigious” school should not be there, as all it truly gives a student is bragging rights. It also marginalizes students of the working class, as they often cannot afford to attend such institutions.

Likewise, there is a certain elitism that comes with assuming that one school is simply better than the other. Often, people assume superiority over graduates from other less traditionally elite schools solely based on the reputation of their own university; this must stop. This is especially apparent in the debate against private colleges and public/state schools. Personally speaking, I cannot tell you how many people I went to high school with that had some sort of vendetta against state schools that were perceived by them to be less selective.

As Robert Reich argues for the “Kitsap Sun,” “The U.S. News rankings perpetuate the myth that these elite institutions offer the best education — as if the economic diversity of a student body and the values and career choices of its undergraduates were irrelevant to receiving a high-quality education. And as if educational excellence could be measured by the size of the wallets supporting it.”

Reich believes, and rightfully so, that perceived elitism of certain schools over others is problematic, and that it perpetuates the notion that only the already elite can be successful.

In the end, all that matters in the job market is that you go to college, regardless of where you. In college classes, your thinking will be challenged as it never has before, you will learn new things every day and grow as a person. Through all of the hard work that it takes to earn a bachelors’ degree while balancing the loads of activities that all students partake in, your work ethic will get that much stronger. This is what employers want to see. Anyone who feels they are superior to another person just because of where they went to school has the right to take pride in their success of going to a good school, but the idea of being better than someone else in the job market simply because you went to a more well respected school is entirely a myth.

Michael Bernick of “Time Magazine” wrote an op-ed in 2014 about this idea in simple terms, with data and research to back up claims that the school you attend makes little difference later in life.

“Today, whether you go to college retains some importance in your employment options,” Bernick writes. “But where you go to college is of almost no importance.

“Whether your degree, for example, is from UCLA or from less prestigious Sonoma State matters far less than your academic performance and the skills you can show employers,” he said.

So, since hiring managers could care less about where you receive your degree from, it leaves the question of what exactly they do look for.

According to Derek Thompson of “The Atlantic,” it depends on the field that you are trying to enter.

And while most professions value experience more than anything, they also look at employment during college, and extracurricular activities. Both charts used by “The Atlantic” show that your college’s reputation is one of the last things that employers care about, only further proving that it is more important to go to a school you feel most comfortable at.

“Consider the larger picture,” Thompson writes. “Every year, about 3 million people start their first year of college in this country. About 1,600 of them enroll at Harvard. That means that, relatively speaking, nobody goes to Harvard. Harvard does not exist. Add up all the capital-E Elite schools that jostle for the top 20 national universities and colleges in US News’ annual rankings, and you’ve reached just 1 percent of the higher-ed population. So, while it’s true that some consulting firms and banks take first-years exclusively from these campuses, they are fishing in a minuscule pond. Their elitism is diluted in a survey that spans the entire economy.”

As you should like the place you are paying so much money to attend, taking pride in your school is important, but the argument against choosing a school based on college rankings that favor elite schools is compelling. Such institutions are incredibly pricey, and because of that, the students able to attend those schools almost always belong to an elite, or an affluent, family. This further engrains a troubling elitism already readily apparent in a society plagued by economic class conflict.

It matters very little where you go to school, only simply that you get a degree and succeed there. It is not necessary to go to a top college to succeed in life, therefore rendering the idea of ranking the best schools in the nation utterly trivial.

Lauren Grimaldi, Roosevelt University

Political Science
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