Choosing a College: The Fame of the Name

Deciding what college to attend is one of the most difficult decisions a high school student has to make. Many times, a student has a preference for one special school based on its location or student culture.

But there is one aspect of a college that some students can not get over: the name. You know them all. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT..

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. The list goes on. For some reason, students believe a “big-name” university like these will give them a better chance in the real world after they graduate. Unfortunately, it is the exact opposite. Prestigious universities lead to tens of thousands of dollars in student loans debt, and the degree you receive at graduation, if you can even stay long enough to get it, is equivalent to any other degree from any other college.

The question you must ask yourself is: Is it worth it? There are ultimately two paths a student can take when deciding what college to attend: the cheap unfamiliar school or the expensive prestigious school. If you choose the cheap unfamiliar school, you do give up the bragging rights to say you attended one of the best schools in the country, but you will still get a degree, which is the ultimate reason for attending college, and for much less than what others pay to receive the same degree. If you choose to attend your dream school, three things can happen. The first possibility is the extremely rare occurrence in which you are given a full scholarship that pays for every dollar of your tuition, and you graduate in four or less years with a stable career waiting for you the day after you graduate. Virtually impossible.

The second possibility is more likely, which includes a small scholarship that pays for a percentage of your tuition, and graduating in four or more years with possible career options but overwhelming amounts of debt. Most people fall into this category. The last possibility, the scariest of all, is the one no one expects to happen to them. Imagine being accepted to your dream school, but you have to pay for every dollar of your tuition, and you realize it’s so hard that you flunk out and don’t even receive your degree. Not only do you have overwhelming amounts of debt, but you still don’t have a college degree or job, either.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for many students who feel they can take on their “dream” school. In summary, before deciding to attend a prominent college or university, know the tuition cost, your scholarship terms, and the difficulty of graduating. Keep in mind the real reason for attending college: the degree. The name is only important if it’s at the top of the diploma.