Universities are often judged by their acceptance rates. The idea is that the more students a university rejects, the better the university is. High school administrators, teachers, and parents pressure students to attend the most selective universities they can get in to. Students are convinced that earning degrees from prestigious educational institutions will guarantee happiness and prosperity. As a result, they are willing to accumulate a substantial amount of debt to attain these degrees. But does a brand-name degree really ensure success?
Frankly, the answer is no. According to the article “It Doesn’t Matter Where You Go to College” by Michael Bernick, most employers do not hire people based on the selectivity of the colleges they attended. Employers want to hire people who are skilled and experienced. Therefore, students who desire to succeed in the workforce are more likely to do so if they devote their time and energy to gaining work experience instead of being accepted to top universities.
That doesn’t mean that students should abandon their academic work. In The Financial Aid Handbook, admissions officers Carol Stack and Ruth Vedvik write that a college degree is almost as necessary as a high school diploma. For most jobs, prospective employees are required to possess at least a bachelor’s degree.
Stack and Vedvik also note that it is better to earn degrees from affordable universities (ones that will award plenty of need-based and merit aid) than prestigious universities that offer scholarships only to top applicants. Students who graduate from affordable universities will have less debt, meaning that they will have more freedom to accept unpaid internships that will give them the experience they need to flourish in their fields. If a brand-name diploma leads to heavy debt after college, then it is most likely not worth it. Those with high student debt have to make earning money, not chasing their dreams, their first priorities to avoid the terrible consequences that could arise from not repaying their loans. High college debt is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, even if it means removing your “reach school” from your college list.