Where You Go to College Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think It Does

Choosing a college is sort of like choosing your underwear. You almost certainly should put on a clean pair, but what you do next is gonna be a lot more important.

Why You Have Multiple Pairs

Almost every bit of a college marketing sales pitch boils down to this: “There is only one college or university that is perfectly suited for you, and we are it!” Not to be outdone, the rankings pumped out by higher ed “experts” just add to the spin. They perpetuate the notion that each school occupies a distinct place in a hierarchy, and that students who go to a school at the top of the rankings are somehow superior. As a result, in the minds of students looking for a college, this whole exercise becomes an anxiety-inducing horse race with permanent consequences.

Don’t Stress the Decision

It turns out that this idea isn’t worth the horse poop it’s written in. Research on college student learning and success demonstrates over and over that what you do in college matters a lot more than which school you attend. And when folks look at the factors that determine differences in income later in life, they find the same thing: major (the academic field you study in college) matters a lot more than college you graduated from.

The implications of this reality can make a huge difference when you are looking for a college. If what you do during college matters more than where you go, then the likelihood that your college choice alone could wreck your future is almost zero.

So does this mean that, after coming up with some basic criteria for a reasonable college choice, I could choose the school that costs the least and call it good?


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