18 answers
Updated Viewed 328 times Translate

Is it better to averagely succeed in a 'hard-to-get-in' university or immensely succed in a 'normal-not -so-hard' university?

For example:
is it better to be a below average in Harvard
or
is it better to be top in an easy going university? #university #college #college-admissions


+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you
23
100% of 17 Pros
100% of 2 Students

18 answers


Updated Translate

John’s Answer

Yes, your school matters, but... only at the beginning of your career Samyukta.

How much it matters depends on your field of study and your who your employer is. In some fields, like investment banking and big law firms, employers only hire from top tier schools. And while there are plenty of fields where that’s not the case, in most graduating from an elite or highly competitive school is still seen as shorthand for “really smart and hard-working students.” And that’s something employers very much care about.

Where you go to school can pay off in salary too. Study’s have found that the median starting salary for Harvard is 32% higher, and after 10 or more years into graduates’ working lives, that spread is 34%. But we’re just talking about patterns here. None of this is to say that you won’t be hired for a great job if you went to a less elite school, people from all sorts of schools get hired for good jobs all the time. I went to a tiny school that lots of people have never heard of, it’s never been an obstacle.

And it’s rare for an employer to look down on a mid-ranked school, it’s more about looking particularly highly at the top-tier ones. If you’re going to a solid school with a decent reputation and you do well there, your schooling is going to be just fine for most jobs. But it probably won’t be as much of a plus as Harvard. That’s just how it works. Also, prestige aside, it’s smart to go to a school where you’ll be happy — because you’ll do better and be more likely to take advantages of the resources your school offers.

As for grades, they can matter in some fields — for your first few years out of school. At that point, you don’t have a ton of experience and accomplishments, so in some fields GPA can function as a rough stand-in, an approximation of what you might be able to achieve on the job. It’s a very imperfect gauge though — there are plenty of people with high GPAs who end up doing mediocre work, and plenty with unimpressive GPAs who excel on the job. But early in your career, without much of a track record to point to, some employers (although not even the majority) will use GPA as a predictor of how well you’re likely to do if hired. So a high GPA isn’t crucial for getting a job — far from it, and plenty of employers won’t ask about it at all — but early in your career it can in some contexts open doors that might otherwise be closed to you. And it’s nice to have options, particularly in a job market where everyone’s options are already constrained.

The best advice is to take the most challenging courses available and put in the extra effort to earn high grades. However, don't sacrifice your sanity and extracurricular interests to attempt an overly ambitious academic schedule Samyukta.

Wow! Thanks John! Very, very helpful advice!! thankyou for your time and effort! :) Samyukta S.

Your Welcome Samyukta, my pleasure. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible.” John Frick

Thank You Emad. “Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place.” — Natalie Portman John Frick

John, I cant express how much you've motivated me now!thanks:D you are an awesome mentor and i wish i can find someone like you here.... Samyukta S.

Keep Reaching for the Stars Samyukta, the real opportunity for success lies within YOU and not in the job. John Frick

Thank You Rithwik. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick

5
100% of 3 Pros
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Abhinav’s Answer

Hi Samyukta I would say not to focus too much on the name of the school when you are making your college decision. Often times many miss out on great opportunities due to choosing prestige over fit. Go to a school where you will be successful and will have opportunities for professional development and personal development. Ultimately employers do not hire you for where you went into school, they will hire you based on your skillset, your personal attributes and your potential fit with the company. Likewise, graduate schools will hire you for your grades and accomplishments as an undergraduate. I will say, however, that at those "prestigious" schools you may have more opportunities that are available to you than if you were to go to a smaller school. Hope this helped!

thanks Abhinav!! It was a helpful piece of advice! :D Samyukta S.

2
100% of 2 Pros
Updated Translate

Myleen’s Answer

The reality is that some companies do look into the name of the university where a potential employee graduated from. So coming from a top university, regardless how well you excelled (or did not) in the said school, has advantages when seeking out job opportunities. With that being said, this would not be an indication on how successful you will be in the long run.

Let me share you a personal experience - I did not come from a top school in my home country. When I was looking for a job, some job postings even indicate the name of the school that they would accept for application. I didn't give up though; even if it took me a few months to finally get a job, I knew it will be worth it.

So I would say, studying in a top school has its advantages but it should not be the only reason for studying there.

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Anand’s Answer

Hi.. The reply to this again is linked to the answer to your another question which I tried to answer. Well, you should do little bit of study on the college you are trying to apply into. This is important to understand whether the college will help you to enhance your skills and give you good guidance. Of course, the renowned ones will get you a good brand name and easier to get a job. As much as the first job or break is important, so is the journey after that. If you get a good job but not able to excel beyond that, then even a renowned college will not help. Ultimately, it is you who will get the success and failure in your life and not the college. What we are measured in life (personal and professional) is by success. So if you get a reasonable good college and you succeed always, you get many avenues to refine/sharpen your skills, your knowledge then I will go with that "normal-not-so-hard University". What happens that the brand may not be as big but it will help you to become big in life, in profession. It will get you the recognition you deserve. Not that a big, named university will not help but then chances are comparatively less. Another thing which I feel and believe is that you should look for is overall development and not just academics. Academics is important but it is not the only thing. IN real life academics is the "cake" but other factors are like the "icing" on the cake.

One thing is clear, do not take the decision in a haste but do a study, meet alumni of the universities you are eyeing at. Understand the dynamics. Finally, it is going to be a package deal. It will have many factors. You have to choose the package best suiting to your needs and requirements. Best Luck!!!

Thankyou once again, Mr.Khajanchi!! You are definitely in my list of "People I Can Turn To For Advice" !! :D P.S, LOVED the 'cake and icing' analogy!! Looking forward to meeting you sometime.. Samyukta S.

You are welcome :-) Anand Khajanchi

1
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Matthew’s Answer

This question is a bit deeper than the surface level "hard" V. "not-so-hard" debate. Neither option is a poor choice, but when it comes to the job search it may give you a leg up to be average at a "hard" school. With that being said, ALL universities are hard, a small name does not necessarily mean a school is going to be easy-breezy. The thing that these bigger schools have in their corner is that employers generally know the requirements and work-loads that are carried by students from these schools. They are aware of a larger emphasis on school-work, and the fact that a person who was able to get in and graduate from one of these large schools is mentally driven to succeed, and could handle the emphasis put on work. This is GREATLY appealing.

Getting a 3.9-4.0 at a smaller school is also phenomenal. It shows employers that you were dedicated to succeeding in your studies and that your focus was on school. All people are different, employers and graduate schools will understand the reasoning behind selecting a smaller school and excelling there. Some people would struggle with a huge change in routine and having 100's of people in classes at a big school may dissuade them from that option.

In the end, neither is a bad option, but, If you have a chance to go to a school like Harvard and be average.... TAKE IT. It will set you up for networking and life beyond university better than many places could even imagine. Make the choice that will enhance your skills and compliment your style of learning the best to excel for the future.

Thankyou Matthew!! Your advice was really helpful! :) Samyukta S.

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Savanna (Savi)’s Answer

Hi Samyukta, everyone has given some great advice.

The one thing I would add is that at university's that aren't as high level you sometimes have the ability to explore really unique opportunities. For instance, I attended a pretty good university, it wasn't an Ivy League though. I performed well and was able to work very closely with a professor who was one of the top researchers in his field. I likely wouldn't have gotten this at another school where there can be intense competition around academics and working with professors. Some of it comes down to what subjects you're interested in and where you can get the best mentors for that subject/career path. While a school can be important for a resume, it is also vital to have good experience to develop your skills and stand out from others.

Best of luck!

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Dennis’s Answer

Honestly, this is just my opinion but WHERE you go to school is not so much important now. Maybe if you're competing with someone else and everything else is equal - perhaps. But having a degree is standard nowadays and they look more at your experience than where you went to school. I would say that unless the hiring manager went to that school - pick a school that has a lot of program options (in case you change your mind - it happens!) and do well. Internships and experience is key. That's my opinion. Hope it helps you!

0
Updated Translate

Nick’s Answer

Something to keep in mind about your "hard" and "easy" schools is that there are other differences to consider. The "hard" schools may not have as may "smart" people as you are lead to believe. But they certainly have very ambitious people (who often have ambitious parents) willing to pay a large price and compete among themselves. Ambition is a good and necessary trait in moderation. Employers know this when hiring from prestigious schools where they will find above average ambitious people to drive their businesses. It interesting to think that ambition can be exploited this way. In the meantime, a vast number of people have had good lives and extremely successful careers after attending state and local colleges (I will not call them "easy", myself). In some cases a degree from a fancy college can be off putting with your colleagues,, but that can work for you if you follow my meaning. Best Wishes!


0
Updated Translate

SeungEon’s Answer

If you can, go to Harvard at all cost. It will pay you back.

0
Updated Translate

Ramona’s Answer

What a great question...I believe people can be successful with either approach. Some folks are very motivated by the academic rigor in those harder to get into schools, while others look for a balance of academics and social environment. I think understanding what motivates and excites you, will be the best approach to help you be the most successful.

thanks for you advice, Ramona!! :) Samyukta S.

0
Updated Translate

Lisa’s Answer

I went to a small, liberal arts school for my 4 year degree. It's really a personal choice/preference. I had a 3.5 GPA, so I guess I fit into the second choice :) Best to you! Lisa

0
Updated Translate

Lisa’s Answer

I went to a small, liberal arts school for my 4 year degree. It's really a personal choice/preference. I had a 3.5 GPA, so I guess I fit into the second choice :) Best to you! Lisa

0
Updated Translate

SeungEon’s Answer

If you can, go to Harvard at all cost. It will pay you back.

Thanks SuengEon!! Samyukta S.

0
Updated Translate

Regina’s Answer

Such a great question, Samyukta! And it really depends on a couple different factors that relate to where you are in life and what field you may be interested in pursuing. I would start by asking yourself what you are seeking in a college experience and what kind of field you may be interested in. If you have more of a set focus and path to follow, I suggest looking at the schools for those specific programs because some lesser known schools may excel in a certain area above IVY league schools.
Other factors or questions I might suggest asking yourself is:
does location matter to me? does the location of the school provide certain unique opportunities? for instance, an university in a city may provide more types of unique internship opportunities or exposure to a diversity of companies.
does cost play a role into my decision? if not, great. If so, that's okay, too! The cost of attending a university is absolutely variable and is important to consider when making this decisions. A more affordable school can also provide a great opportunity- it all depends on what you are looking for. In my experience, you will have colleagues from all types of universities and each has followed a different path to get to the same place.
does cultural experience matter to me? Some cities may offer more cultural diversity than others, which can play a role in your college experience.

Overall- pick a place that you can envision calling home for a couple years. It can be overwhelming to pick a university and it's great to seek counsel from others who have gone to that university you are interested in. My best advice is to give yourself grace and compassion during this time- you will know what feels best.

0
Updated Translate

Andrew’s Answer

There was a research study for this for US market. If you study humanity subjects, your school matters to your future advancement. If you study STEM subjects, your field of study matters most.

0
Updated Translate

Michelle’s Answer

Hi Samyukta,

I am a current college student and want to share my personal experience attending a medium-sized university that is not considered "prestigious" or "hard-to-get-in." I work hard to achieve good grades and am involved in an organization on campus. Attending my school has given me opportunities and experiences that I may not have received at a larger or more competitive school in which many students are competing for opportunities.

For example, through my school I was able to apply and obtain a major scholarship to study/intern abroad. Before that, I did not think I would study abroad in college because it was not a financial priority for me. I would bet attending a "hard-to-get-in" school and being average might still offer opportunities and experiences, perhaps majorly in terms of networking. However, in my opinion, working hard to succeed in a "not-so-hard-to-get-in" university that offers various scholarships or extracurricular activities you'd be interested in can allow you to have some awesome experiences that will set you apart once you graduate! So I lean more towards immensely succeeding in a "normal" university.

(As a point of reference, I am a business major so I can't speak to whether a degree from a top school would really make a difference in the future for other fields - that could be the case but I think using alumni and career events, you can still make the best of what's available to you!).

Thanks, Michelle! You were very helpful. :D Samyukta S.

0
Updated Translate

Tara’s Answer

I would agree with those who emphasize fit here! I am someone who excelled in a school that is not well known. I went to a small liberal arts college with virtually no name recognition, but I received an excellent education. Because of the small class sizes and close interactions with professors, I was able to get involved in research opportunities across different departments and disciplines. This is not easy to do in a large school where students receive less 1:1 attention from professors and departments are more isolated from each other. My interdisciplinary background and unique experiences helped me to get into a top tier PhD program where I am fully funded on a fellowship and really enjoying myself! I use the skills I learned at my small undergrad school every day in my research.

It really comes down to what you want and need from your education experience. When you leave college you will have gained more than a degree, but the foundation of how you will approach challenges in your career and beyond. Personally, I don't think I would have done nearly as well in a different environment. Consider what kind of learning environment works best for you and you will find the school that will ultimately bring you the most success personally and professionally.

0
Updated Translate

Stephanie’s Answer

I will say, once you get that first job, your GPA really doesn't matter. And depending on where in the country you are, there some places that have never heard of some schools. It all depends on what that employer is looking for. My sister graduated from Purdue, the first couple of places she worked, very few had heard of Purdue. In the midwest, that would be shocking.

My school changed their name the year I graduated, so they would stand out more. Once again, its really about that first job, career choice, location, and connections that matter. Some careers, it makes a difference that is Harvard or Yale. There is also the other potential that you could be discriminated against it as well. Pick the school that is going to be the best suited for you. If you fit better at school, you will succeed more. If you are forcing it where you don't fit in, your grades will suffer and networking potential as well.

Things to keep in mind.

Thanks Stephanie. I will definetely keep what you said in mind :) Samyukta S.

0