School Reputation Comes at a High Cost

Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Wouldn’t you like to have any of those schools on your diploma? Wouldn’t you like to get a graduate degree from any of these institutions? Do you think that you’ll have a better shot at a really high paying and rewarding job if you graduated from these schools? As much as we’d like to believe in equal opportunity here in the US, the truth is there is a hierarchy. Ivy League schools have a better reputation. They open more doors and can actually connect to a larger network of alumni that may lead to high paying jobs and positions. These schools can also be your gateway to exclusive fraternities of high achieving people. If you look at any industry or the history of the United States, a lot of its leaders, movers and shakers are graduates from prestigious colleges and universities. Accordingly, many people are tempted to apply to Ivy League schools because they have the grades and background, all except for the money. While many of these schools do offer free financial aid, there will still be cost that the school can’t shoulder.

Can you truly afford these schools? Are you willing to forego going to a prestigious school for a lesser renowned school but with a scholarship?

Weigh these options properly. The worst thing that could happen is not having the grades for any scholarship but having enough to get in. This is where the pain starts because you really have to step it up with tuition, living arrangements and other miscellaneous costs. These can really pile up.

What can you do?

Many applicants are blinded by the reputation of the school and automatically think that is worth the heavy debt. While these schools can open doors, your employability still revolves around you. Moreover, it is not just your school that will determine what kind of job you’ll get. You’ll have competition not just from the same school but from other prestigious schools and more experience people. This is not a decision set in stone. There are all sorts of factors to consider.

Is prestige and reputation worth the extra money?

If you can swing it, then go for it. If you can minimize your debt loan and have a network of friends that can help after you graduate then it could be all worth it. However, if you are unsure of your ability to pay the miscellaneous costs then you should seriously reconsider other schools that also have good track record of graduates. Remember, the educational system is like a pyramid. You don’t have to shoot for the top apex; there are a lot of tiers in between. Even the bottom tier may turn out to be better if you play your cards right. Sure you can get into Harvard but if there’s a lower tier school that can give you a free ride, then why not? The end result would not be any different.

Consider all these factors because prestige comes with a price. Are you willing to pay that price?

You want to graduate college with as little debt as possible because it really cuts down on your freedom. If you plan to take a few years off after school to travel the world and find your self, you can’t do that if you have thousands of dollars in debt. Being in so much debt may constrain you in making career choices that you normally would not want to make. These bad decisions may stain your permanent record and demoralize you from entering in your chosen field.