How Important is an Ivy League Degree, Anyway?
Last week we examined whether or not your undergraduate major is a big deal in the scope of your professional life. The conclusion: what you study may not matter so much. But what about where you study?
In the not-so-distant past, a fancy name under the “Education” portion of your resume was a sure fire way to the land of gainful employment. Now, not so much. As I always say, competition is fierce and the economy is not great.
So, is that pricey university worth it now? Does the name matter? Or is it a waste of money? The big-name universities generally cost more. A lot more. A study of the real cost of higher education puts the average tuition at a four-year private university at $129,700 as of 2013 compared to $38,300 at a public institution. And this is only tuition. These numbers don’t factor in room and board. So, is it worth it? It certainly was once, but maybe not anymore.
A few weeks back The Atlantic published an article stating that businesses generally are more concerned with experience and what you know than the name of the school on your diploma. According to the article’s survey, only nine percent of business leaders consider where a job candidate went to school as “very important.”
That number is surely down compared to years ago. Private institutions will have to eventually come to terms with these changes and the shift in priorities. Until then, where does that leave someone considering his or her options for college? It’s daunting, to say the least, to consider that a decision you’re making at such a young age will have a direct impact on your life, career, and financial success or failure in the future.
What is means is: don’t worry about where you go, or what your major of choice is. Do worry about building your portfolio of skills. Your future boss will want to see work ethic, and a diverse set of abilities. Take extra classes. Most private schools even offer affiliate programs you can take at a lower cost at night. That way, you can still get the big-name credibility without shelling out the big-name cash. Focus on constantly learning new and relevant skills to bulk up your resume. Do internships. Get into real-life work environments as soon as possible.
I think this changing of tides is actually really beneficial to coming generations. Employers are starting to consider applicants as whole people, rather than a set of criteria on a piece of paper. Take care to always try to grow in the direction of your career goals, regardless of where you graduated.
Alexandra Saville (@CapitalistaBlog) is the Media and Writing Specialist at Law Street Media. She has experience in the publishing and marketing worlds and started her own publishing company right out of college. Her blogs, The Capitalista and Capitalista Careers, focus on the young and the entrepreneurial.