As you're deciding which colleges to apply to and considering which college you want to be a student at, it is important to consider these three factors before making your decision. The social prestige of a college, the graduate school placement of a college and how employers view the college should all impact where you decide to study. With the economy the way it is now, it is imperative that you do your research in order to find out which college will present you with the best opportunities after graduation. Not all colleges will give you equal opportunities, so be sure you know what you hope to get out of your degree and what you're hoping to achieve afterwards.
1. How Do Other People View the College?
How other people view the college you may want to attend, or more simply put, the social prestige of a college, may affect your post-graduation opportunities. While Ivy League colleges clearly have a very high social prestige, students should not disregard other colleges with the assumption that their social prestige is unsatisfactory just because they are not of Ivy League status. Social prestige goes beyond just the name of the college. Small class sizes, low acceptance rates, highly accredited faculty and fantastic teaching resources are all factors that give colleges a caliber of prestige. Interestingly, those who attend an Ivy League school and those who attend a local college tend to earn the same income after twenty years. Don't pick a school based solely on a name, but consider other factors that influence social prestige.
2. What is the Rate of Graduate Student Placement?
Another factor to consider when choosing a college is the graduate school placement prestige. Generally, colleges that have a high rate of graduate student placement tend to be ranked and perceived more highly. Do not simply consider undergraduate statistics, as many rankings are also based on the number of graduate and doctoral students the college accepts. What makes a college prestigious in this sense is the number of students accepted, the type of research they're doing and the personalized evaluations that they offer. Whether graduate school is in your future or not, consider this factor as it will attract the attention of other schools and future employers. Also keep in mind that it is important to choose a school that specializes in your area of interest. While one college may be highly accredited for engineering, it may not be for history.
3. Which College Degrees Do Employers Want?
In addition to social prestige and graduate school placement prestige, when picking a college to attend students should also consider employer prestige. That is, which colleges produce students that get a job right after they graduate and earn the highest paychecks? In a recent study, Manhattan College and Colorado School of Mines both featured in the top 25 colleges in the USA because of their high rate of employment after graduation. While social prestige plays a part, the resources a college offers students for networking opportunities and to form alumni connections is also hugely beneficial. If you are looking to get a career after college, it is a fantastic idea to consider employer prestige when picking a college. Considering the economic uncertainty facing new graduates today, it is very important to plan your post-graduate direction and know what you're hoping to get out of your undergraduate experience. Know that having an undergraduate degree from any college is no longer enough to guarantee your dream job. Know what you want to focus on and choose to take a unique path. Do your research to see where the colleges you're interested in are ranked in terms of social, graduate school placement and employer prestige and then work hard to get there!