Is That Famous College Right for You?
No matter where you live, you have probably heard of certain famous colleges. Their reputations are often well-deserved, derived from renowned faculty members or even celebrity graduates who have impacted technology and culture. These schools are often highly ranked, very selective in admitting students, and offer top-tier programs of study. They’re also very expensive, and that fact can complicate your decision. Do you choose a school with a good reputation and affordable tuition, or a famous college that puts you in debt? Will a diploma from a prestigious university really make that much difference in the long run?
As you narrow your college choices, ask yourself these questions:
Why do I really want to attend this school? If you mostly appreciate the architecture, the school’s reputation for parties, or the fact that your favorite celebrity went there, it’s probably not worth the extra tuition dollars. On the other hand, if this school offers a program of study that is not offered at many other schools, or it has earned a reputation as the best place to study that particular field, then the school is worth a closer look.
What are my odds of getting in? Top-notch schools often turn down highly qualified applicants, simply because they can’t admit everyone. If your odds of admission aren’t high, you should at least choose a back-up school.
Are you ready for the pressure? You aren’t just competing for admission. Once you’re in, you will spend the next four years competing with other super-students. Is the prestigious diploma worth four years of stress? For many people, the answer is still yes, but others want to enjoy a more well-rounded college experience.
Will you even spend time with those famous professors? Investigate your program of interest. Often, professors who are famous in their fields don’t even spend time with undergraduates. You might be wise to attend another university for your undergraduate years, and then apply for graduate study at the top-tier school.
Is the debt worth it? If you will go into debt in order to earn that pricey degree, investigate how valuable the “brand name” really is. Do graduates from this program earn more than graduates from other schools? If not, the school might not be a smart investment.
No one is saying that you shouldn’t attend a highly-regarded university; only that there are good and bad reasons for doing so. In some cases, less famous schools offer programs that still fit your needs without breaking your budget. On the other hand, sometimes that famous, highly competitive college will be the perfect fit for you. Just do your research ahead of time, so that there are no unpleasant surprises down the road.