It Does Matter

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It’s now April, the time of year when many high school seniors are getting acceptance and rejection letters to college. Adele Scheele says not to worry about it, writing in the Huffington Post that where one goes to college doesn’t really matter. As she says in “Does Where You Go to College Really Matter?”:

Most of us go to college to have a better life, meaning a professional career and life-long friends. But just how important is the institution where you choose to get that degree? Sure, Ivy League schools, the Yale’s and Harvard’s of the world, carry a status that employers find impressive and assuring, especially if they themselves went there. But I will argue that a case a can be made for a state university or local college –if you’re willing to be an active participant.

The trouble is that this piece has the a feel of oh-it’s-April-and-you-just-found-out-you-didn’t-get-into/can’t-afford-your-top-school. The actual evidence here is kind of weak. Most of us go to college to have a better life. Really?

Scheele (who incidentally earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania) is a motivational speaker and “career strategist” who specializes in encouraging “people to claim themselves and empower their lives.”

Though ultimately people are pretty much in control of their own destinies (once you get to a certain age it ceases to matter where or even if you went to college at all; you’ve achieved something or you haven’t and no one much cares if you went to Amherst or whatever), Scheele seems a little dishonest when claiming that one’s college choices are irrelevant.

In fact, at least for entry-level careers, it matters a great deal where one goes to college.

Though the academic major might ultimately be more important in terms of salary, in fact the median starting salary for graduates of Ivy League colleges is 32 percent higher than that of other liberal-arts college graduates. That might be kind of unfair and it might have more to do with social class and opportunities than actual education, but it’s still a reality. Let’s acknowledge that.[Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer