When Shakespeare’s Juliet asked “What’s in a name?” she posited that names shouldn’t mean as much as the people or places to which they refer. But when it comes to college, does the name matter?
As high school seniors begin the end of their grade school years and plan for college matriculation in the fall, they wonder what kinds of experiences they will have there, who they will meet, and what classes they will take. They also wonder if their new college’s reputation will help them get a job after their four-year journey is over.
In an increasingly competitive job market, names absolutely can help. Colleges and universities are ranked annually by U.S. New and World Report, and every year, Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton top the list. Surely, these schools, many of them older than the United States itself, are impressive resume toppers. They carry with them a certain reputation, and a certain set of assumptions. If a student has graduated from a place like MIT or Stamford, surely he or she must be intelligent, hard-working, experienced, and motivated.
Some people, however, argue that names aren’t actually as important as we may think. In her book, Launch your Career in College: Strategies for Students, Educators, and Parents, Adele Scheele suggests that what’s more important is what a student does with his or her college experience. Learning skills, making connections, utilizing resources, and participating in activities are all critical keys to success.
If financial concerns are the roadblock to an Ivy League degree, as is the case with many prospective university students, perhaps one might consider the course taken by Gac Filipaj, who worked for years as a “heavy cleaner” at Columbia University to ultimately graduate this spring at age 52. Or, get a taste of branded higher education with some of the new, and free, education initiatives from Harvard and MIT
So recent graduates, be forewarned. While Juliet coos “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” to her lover, don’t be fooled into thinking you can say the same to a potential employer at the next networking event.