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What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name? Does the name of your college really matter? I have a degree in Political Science from DePaul University. My friend has a biology degree from the University of Illinois. Another friend has a Business Management degree from Michigan State. There are scores of schools in this country that provide similar degrees. Outside of sports and school pride, does the name of the institution really matter once you actually have the degree in your hand and applying for jobs?

The general consensuses is…somewhat. Only if you went to a big fancy Ivy League school does that really play a factor, and even then just because you went to Ivy League University does not guarantee success in the work place. For the other 99% of students who did not/cannot/choose not to attend one of the labeled Ivy League schools, a degree is a degree. It’s not where you went, rather today’s market has to do with what you have done. Experience in this world counts for more than name. In the end, it’s your motivation and ambition to learn, grow, develop, and drive to succeed that makes more of a visible difference than where you went.

Some point out the argument that a more prestige school will have a better quality curriculum. Well again that’s not necessarily true. The important thing is what the student gets out the program as well as the amount of energy they put into their studies. The quality of the curriculum largely also depends on the type of professor, and again, big league schools do not necessary have the best teachers. What makes a teacher great is the student’s ability to interact and collaborate with them. The relationship a student has with a teacher- on a strictly academic level- is a huge factor in how well a student does in class, because they have someone to actually teach them the material and not just tell it to them.

Now certain programs or majors may offer different on campus or off campus experiences, which could range from bloody terrible to utterly fantastic. And that feeds into the whole experience play. But what seems to be more important is how you use your experiences in and out of the classroom. Experience means nothing if you do not learn from it, and especially if you do not utilize it.

Empirically speaking we would all like our school’s name to carry the same weight, yet that is simply not the case. The hard pill to swallow is that graduates are sometimes judged based on what school they went to, and if it’s not a nationally recognized name or not revered as “one of the best schools in the country,” then you’re pretty much SOL and JWF.  The best you can do is go to a school that best suites your needs and expectations, and hopefully start a trend where people begin to understand it’s not the name of the boat that counts, only that it gets you to your destination.

Questions? Ideas or suggestions? Follow me on twitter @ChrisComella or email me at [email protected]

IMAGE: Courtesy of Washington Monthly

Christopher Comella

Christopher earned his BA in Political Science from DePaul University in 2011, and is no stranger to writing and deadlines. One of his greatest assets is to add humor to even the driest of subjects, which is why half of his professors love him and the other half hated his work.