By Alexis Epstein
News Copy Editor
According to US News and World Report, the top five ranked schools in the nation are Princeton, Harvard, Colombia/MIT/UChicago/Yale tied for third, Stanford and Duke. This ranking is determined based on 16 factors, including first-year student retention, graduation rates, the strength of the faculty, user reviews of schools, academics, cost, student life, services, post-graduate employment and salary outcomes among others. Although all of these factors are all important in deciding which school to attend, a university’s academic ranking does not necessarily determine one’s future success. Rather, it is about the experience the student has. No matter what school a student attends, they have the opportunity to pave their own path and make the memories they will carry with them throughout their lives. There is more to a college than the factors US News and World Report use to rank universities.
Most colleges require the same introductory and prerequisite classes for one’s major studies; therefore, they have a common foundation no matter which university an individual attends. Students learn many of the same concepts whether they attend a community college or an Ivy League university. For example, Florida Gulf Coast University and University of Florida both offer Finance as a major, and require their students to take Business Finance in order to graduate. Although the class may be more challenging at one school than another, students are obtaining the same knowledge and information. Once an individual is working in the “real world,” their experience and what they can contribute to the company begins to be more important than where they got their degree. A recent article from Forbes reported that finance courses“provide useful knowledge and techniques, but they also signal to potential employers that the student has taken hard subjects.” At the end of the day, an individual is taking the same general education and core classes; therefore, what school one takes them at is inconsequential.
College is about the pursuing one’s major and taking advantage of the activities offered outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to join clubs, participate in extracurricular activities and apply for internships. College shouldn’t be all about work, as it is the prime time of students’ lives; therefore, they should enjoy themselves as well. Students can meet new people and having unique experiences, as well as enjoying time with friends. When a student looks back at their time in college, they remember their friends and the memories they make. Almost all schools no matter their academic ranking, have diversified extracurriculars. These organizations range from social to academic, religious, political, community service, theater, cultural, sports and so many more. They can provide a sense of community and enhance self-awareness.
College is part of the educational path for most students, and eventually leads to finding a career. In the end, most people obtain a degree. The only aspect that differs between schools’ diplomas are the name of the university written on the diploma. Each company and job position have their own criteria that they are looking for when they are choosing who they will hire. Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania professor and the author of a new paper on job skills Peter Cappelli said when companies are hiring recent college graduates, they do not look at their academics as heavily as they focus on internships, as it is a “crucial attribute.” Internships occur nationwide, and do not necessarily have to be in the same city where the student attends school; it is the “work experience” that makes a candidate more competitive. Companies are more focused on how one can contribute to the organization and after a few years, it no longer matters where an individual went to school but the impact they have made.
Clearly, there is more to a college than its academic rank. Students should prioritize getting the full college experience, rather than just the school’s ranking alone. Individuals have to consider more than the academics, as their work experience and memories are what they will truly carry with them after they graduate.