College Brand Names- What is the value?

How important is the brand name of your college- in your career, compensation, network, etc?

My husband and I are embarking on a journey.  It’s exciting, terrifying, stressful and full of anticipation.  Our daughter is a High School Junior and we have been looking at colleges and making our “list.”  Now, we actually started looking when she was a freshman but, as this leg of our journey nears it’s end with one visit left (Boston), we are having discussions about the ROI of a big brand name college on the resume.  Pretty heady stuff for a 16 year old.  The good news- she’s a great student, a very talented and gifted musician (no, I am not biased at all), and a pretty good athlete.  We think she will have some great options.  The bad news- she’ll have some great options which will lead to lots of angst and household drama. But hey, I am not complaining.

Here are the questions that cause so much discussion in our house:

  1. Does the brand name of your college or university make a difference in your career?
  2. Will all students need a Masters in order to compete in the future and if so, is it better to go for the big name college during that next phase or pay the piper now?
  3. What is the ROI if a student and family decide to go for the big name, big (really big) price tag school?

I have some strong opinions.  I believe that the brand name of your college can have a significant impact on your career.  It can open doors and allow the graduating student an advantage right out of the gate.  But a big unknown is, what does that student want to do with their career?  The ROI is only apparent if that student wants to be a leader in business or an attorney, etc.  But if that student wants to be an amazing nurse, I would argue that the big name undergrad degree doesn’t pay off financially.  I think the key is just how motivated is that student?  Are they driven and can’t stand to fail?  Will they be the type of person to take advantage of the great network they will have access to in their career? 

Lots of questions.  Not all of the answers.  Big decisions!  What do you think?

About annspoor
Ann Spoor is the Jerry McGuire to Corporate Executives and Professionals. She is an Executive Talent Agent, Executive Coach, Career Manager, Executive Branding Expert, and Social Media Coach. Ann lives in Denver with her husband Mark and their 2 kids. The Leadership Lattice is an interview series conducted by Ann Spoor CEO & Founder of Executive Lattice. The series focuses on Leadership in the private & public sector. Please subscribe to this blog to follow along in the discussion.

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