It is no secret that in today’s job market it can be hard to jumpstart even the brightest of futures. Young graduates are having difficulty entering the real world, facing the prospect of no available jobs, as well as no way to gain their independence. When it comes to situations such as these the college a student attends can make or break the quick jumpstart they may be hoping to use to invigorate their budding career. In a normal or prosperous economy, there is money and jobs to go around. An education is an education; it does not matter where it comes from as long as the young professional who enters the workforce is knowledgeable and competent. But in a job-loss economy, such as the one we are in now, employees often use college rankings as a basis for hiring, according to Michael N. Bastedo and Nicholas A. Bowman. The authors of “U.S. News & World Report College Rankings: Modeling Institutional Effects on Organizational Reputations,” published in American Journal of Education conducted a study on how college rankings impacted the college’s reputation, but also the reputation of the student’s education’s competency when being hired. Bastedo and Nicholas found that graduates from lower ranking schools were often just as qualified as students from higher ranking schools, but were often passed over because their education would not garner the company the same reputation (175). Studies appeared to show that bragging about an Ivy League graduate was more appealing than bragging about a state school graduate. The graduate’s accomplishment became a reflection not only of the graduate themselves, but of the company they represented. Employers were more eager to hire graduates who had attended prestigious schools in an effort to make their own brand, company, or name look more desirable and respected by those around them (179). In short, while education is all that really matters, employers are obsessed with image and college ranking is a part of that. Bastedo and Nicholas also found that graduates of schools that were ranked higher received interviews and job offers 75% more often and 50% faster than graduates of lower ranking schools (181).
If getting a job quicker, as well as more easily, is not enough to make college rankings matter, it has been found that graduates of higher ranking institutions are also taken more seriously in their future profession. In “Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter,” written by George D. Kuh and his associates, they found that many colleges around the country are proficient in preparing students in their future careers. Though, something new that the studies yielded was how seriously new graduates were taken in their field. State school graduates were not taken as seriously or shown the same amount of respect as alumni from college such as Harvard, Yale, or MIT (87). Employers tend to ignore qualifications, and in some cases, even general intelligence, and only notice the college written on an individual’s resume. Kuh and his associates also found that graduates of schools that rank higher often experience more success throughout their career than those who graduate from lower ranking schools. Individuals who graduate from community colleges or state universities are capable of seeing ample amounts of success in their lifetime but Kuh found that graduates of schools such as the aforementioned MIT, or Sarah Lawrence often see more promotions and are promoted quicker than those who graduate from lower ranking schools (101). Graduates of higher ranked schools are also given more responsibility, with or without promotions. Many of the first employees within companies who receive assistants or the capacity to commission their own projects are graduates of prominent universities. In addition to this, Kuh also found that in professional fields such as medicine, psychology, technology, and science, graduates of higher ranking schools experience less difficulty getting papers published, receiving grant funding for studies, or having theories taken seriously by others in their professional community (105). Essentially, the school a student chooses to attend can make or break their reputation in the professional community they choose join.
If the idea of a speedy hiring process and profound success was not enough to make college rankings matter to a student, money will certainly do the trick. William Schmidt and his associates published an articles entitled, “Are College Rankings an Indicator of Quality Education?” wherein they asked if high college rankings really made the student a more learned individual who attended a low ranking school. The studies found that indeed higher ranking schools usually elicited smarter graduates, for several reasons. Higher ranking schools often received more donations, anonymous or otherwise, more funding, and were more current with their teaching methods and information than lower ranking schools (506). Typically, especially concerning professional fields such as math and science, this meant that the graduates were better educated than those who were taught at a lower ranking school which received less money and were more behind in methods. Higher ranking schools also tended to have a more motivated student body than those attending lower ranking schools. These simple changes in atmosphere and educational delivery have an impact on employers. The impact is so great that graduates from higher ranking institutions such, such as Stanford or Princeton stand to earn anywhere from $200,000 to several million dollars more than an individual who graduates from a lower ranking school (512). It is important to keep in mind that the amount of extra money made is over a lifetime and based on professional field.
In summation, there are several reasons why the rank of a college is very important when picking a school. College rank can have a potential impact on how quickly an individual is hired. In today’s economy it is very difficult to get a job; many professional fields are very competitive and students need to understand that they should take an edge wherever it is offered. College rankings can also offer more success. If a student graduates from a college that is ranked high they may experience promotions quicker, as well as more often. Depending on their field of study, they may also experience less difficulty attempting to receive grant funding or publishing proposed theories. Finally, and most importantly to many, college rank can effect one’s earnings over a lifetime. Graduates from lower ranking schools will make significantly less than graduates from higher ranking schools. Over all it is very important that students pay attention to college rankings and it is overwhelmingly clear that college ranking to matter when picking a school.
Bastedo, Michael N. and Nicholas A. Bowman. "U.S. News & World Report College Rankings: Modeling Institutional Effects on Organizational Reputation." American Journal of Education (2010): 163-183. Print.
Kuh, George D., et al. Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter. Chicago: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Print.
Schmidt, William, et al. "Are College Rankings an Indicator of Quality Education?" International Perspectives on Teacher Knowledge, Beliefs and Opportunities to Learn (2014): 503-514. Print.