College Admissions: Does It Matter Where You Attend College? Absolutely!

Dr. Paul LoweBy Dr. Paul Lowe – College Admissions Guru

I often hear from parents, students, high school guidance counselors and even fellow educational consultants that it doesn’t matter where you attend college, as long as where you attend is a “good fit”. Actually studies show it does matter where you attend college! My recommendation to my U.S. as well as international clients is that one should attend the “best” school possible where you will happy and have a great and memorable college experience.

Obviously, there are many people who are happy, quite successful and have had wonderful college experiences without attending Ivy League or highly competitive colleges. However, in this tight job market, recent college graduates increasingly find that higher paying jobs are very selective. While attending an Ivy League or selective college may not guarantee financial success or happiness, to buyers of talent (HR professionals, employers, personnel departments) it certainly does matter. One of the first questions they consider while perusing a job applicant’s resume: where did you attend school?

(1) A study in the journal, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, confirms parental suspicions that the best route to a top job is to attend an Ivy League school. According to Dr. Lauren Rivera, the author of the study, “Elite professional service employers rely more on academic pedigree more than any other factor. Where you went to school rather than what you did there makes the difference”.

(2) PayScale Inc., an online provider of global compensation data, in a survey demonstrated that an Ivy League diploma is still worth its price of admission and tuition. “An Ivy League education makes a job candidate stand out, even before a recruiter talks to them! The median starting salary for Ivy Leaguers is 32% higher than that of liberal-arts college graduates and at 10 or more years into graduates’ working lives, the spread is 34%.”

(3) Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, stated: “Because of the bitter competition for premium salaries, elite educational credentials are often a precondition for even landing a job interview. Degrees from elite schools clearly open doors.”

Let’s face it. We live in a competitive, meritocratic and global society where brand, image, prestige and reputation certainly matter. The answer to the question: does it matter where you attend school, then, is rhetorical. Still believe it doesn’t matter? Just ask the record number of students (an estimated 30,000) who apply to each Ivy League school where the rejection rates can exceed 90% for these colleges.


Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Greenwich Admissions Advisors. Tel. (203) 542-7288.

Dr. Lowe is an active member of several professional organizations including: the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the New York Association for College Admission Counseling (NYACAC), the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC), the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), and the Admissions Leadership Consortium (ALC).