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College rankings can matter

Gerald Bradshaw

Gerald Bradshaw

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Updated: July 30, 2012 6:14AM



Does it really matter where you go to college? It might.

When making a higher education decision, you have many questions to answer. What can I afford? What do I want to study? What school will best prepare me for my career choice?

U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of universities should be required reading for all college applicants and their parents. Although many college officials say the tier in which a school is placed does not matter in recruiting, the report does make a difference.

Dropping even one notch below where it was on the list the previous year can affect corporate fundraising efforts, and alumni donations might plummet. Potential applicants read the rankings as a mark of quality, often making their decisions based upon the magazine’s findings.

High school guidance counselors, students and parents use the rankings as a measure of prestige and academic quality. Corporations always begin their recruiting efforts at top-ranked schools, and the best job offers generally go to the graduates of those institutions.

Alumni of highly ranked colleges often have better chances to get into medical school, law school and top graduate programs. Fellowship and grant money also flows uphill to the higher-ranking institutions.

I always tell my clients that attending a small, bachelor-degree granting institution is fine. However, if you want an advanced degree on your curriculum vitae, attending a highly ranked university will give you a leg up in the graduate school application process.

You’ll find that graduation from a top university will reap benefits when the time comes to ask your professors for references. Without excellent references, the fellowship money you need to stay in graduate school will be harder to attract.

The more prestigious the school, the easier it will be to obtain financial support, take advantage of foreign study programs and teaching opportunities.

Should you not attend a top-tier college, it does not mean the end of the world.

If you take accelerated classes, earn top grades and have an extra-curricular resume of note, you still will stand out when you enter the work place.



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