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How Much Should A School’s Reputation Play Into Your College Decision?

Tuesday, I talked about Malcolm Gladwell’s article on college rankings, as well as my own opinion of their importance. My takeaway: at the very least rankings can be a decent measure of a school’s current reputation. So then how heavy should a school’s reputation weigh in one’s college decision? Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario. You are a corporate recruiter for entry-level positions for recent college graduates. Three resumes cross your desk. One is from a student graduating from Haverford, another from a student graduating from Grinnell, and a third from a student graduating from Bard. As you scan the resumes you see that all applicants have outstanding GPAs, leadership roles in extracurricular activities, and various awards and honors. As you read through the resumes to determine who will offer the most for your company, to what degree do you think you will consider that one school is ranked 9, one 18, and another 36, according to US News & World Report? The answer, in most situations, is very little. A potential employer knows that all three applicants received an education from a great school; that what determined where they went was high school achievement and perhaps family finances- both unreliable indicators of current job performance; and all excelled in the environments in which they found themselves. The name of the school is just one line on these graduate’s resume. Yes, there are five to ten schools in the world that will set a prospect apart from the pack (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, Oxford). But for those looking at other schools, letting reputation play a significant role in a decision is mistaken. What matters more for your career prospects will be the other 50 or so lines of your resume that describe what was accomplished while at school. What’s more important than a school’s reputation are the opportunities and academic environment it offers that will present the best venue in which to succeed. So why then put so much effort into studying for the tests, getting good grades, and working on your essays? The answer is simple. It’s not to get into the best school you can get into, but to get into the school best suited to you. Top Test Prep is a leader in the college admissions industry. For a free consultation on your college admissions process, contact Top Test Prep today at (800) 501-7737 or visit TopTestPrep.com.

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