Way too often, people think that the college search is all about where you get in. Sure, some folks are just about the snobbery of it, but most folks genuinely believe that the more “elite” the brand name of the college, the better the network of professional connections that their child gains access to as a result. So I can understand the belief that if parents want to give their kids a better life, they need to make that anxious scramble up the prestige ladder.
Two Thumbs Down
But the data (yeah, I know . . . again with the data!) just doesn’t support this belief. In 2019, Gallup surveyed 5,100 college graduates and asked them to judge how helpful their alumni network had been in their career so far.
So how many people described their alumni network as helpful or very helpful?
JUST NINE PERCENT??? Ugh.
Maybe more troubling, more than twice that number (22%) described their alumni network as unhelpful or very unhelpful.
And almost 70% (68% to be exact) said that their alumni network didn’t matter either way.
In reality, the notion that going to a swanky college gets you life-long membership into an exclusive alumni network that will put you on easy street is pure bunk.
The Sequel Will Be Even Better
The truth is, after college, we move on. We move to new places, meet new people, and make new connections. We change social groups and, in many cases, change careers. The further you get into adulthood, the more you determine your own future through hard work, grit, determination, and making your own luck. It’s who you are and the relationships you maintain in the present — not some vague mutual association to nostalgic days gone by — that contribute to the opportunities that come your way.
This is why it’s way more important to pick a college where the price they offer you fits your financial situation rather than hand over your financial future to a name-brand college in the hope that it will pay off in connections and influence later.
And that hoity-toity alumni club? Turns out that’s all just in the movies.
Mark Salisbury is Co-Founder of TuitionFit. TuitionFit pulls back the curtain on college pricing and gives college-bound students, families and college search counselors the pricing information they need to make the most informed decisions possible. We make it possible for more students to go to college, pay for college, and begin adult life without the burden of excess student loan debt.