Invariably, I have parents that trust me with planning their student’s career path and college choice only to be met with “but what about a good school.” It’s always interesting to me when parents feel that good schools are those that are very elite or in the top 40 of the varietal rating magazines regardless of the schools major offerings, the fit or environment for their individual student or the overall size of the school. Let’s face it, it many case they are being name brand sensitive and want to have the privilege of saying to their friends that my child is going to so and so.
Most of the times, when I show the parents the data on the schools I have fit for their students after numerous meetings and tours, they come around and are open to the schools that are best fits for their children rather than the impressive name but I do still get, with frequency, the “can they get a high paying job coming out of that school.”
At least, in my opinion, that’s a fair question, far better then what about looking at some “good” schools.
There was a time when the name of the school a person graduated from had significant bearing to the hiring of mid to upper level managers in corporate America. But those days are over. It’s a bit like being on a teeter totter however. Many parents and “average” Americans still believe that receiving a degree from a prestigious or top tier school assures the graduate of getting a high paying job. Employers on the other hand disagree.
A recent Gallup survey has found that those making hiring decisions are far less impressed or concerned with “where” one obtained their degree and are far more interested in the candidates skills set and experience than in the major they studied or where they matriculated. A student’s skill level and applied knowledge in the field are the most critical factors in the decision to hire process. The two lowest levels of concerns according to employers asked by Gallup was what degree the student obtained and where was it obtained. According to that study, 8 in 10 adults working in a business environment with knowledge and skills in a particular field are what hiring mangers look for in an applicant. Juxtapose that with current thoughts of many people and you realize the teeter totter effect. The survey found that nearly half of college graduates believe their degree was most important to employers and still 30% believe that where they went to school was the most important factor.
Over time the reality gap will shrink. The survey clearly demonstrated that employers still value a college degree but where that degree comes from is far less important in their minds than it is in the minds some of the parents. A degree alone is not a guaranty of a job.
In fact, the Gallup survey indicated that a graduate’s ability to demonstrate real value through experience and targeted learning while in school will be a key factor in that new employees long term career success.