Prestigious College or Affordable State School?

Veronica Kuffel, Editor

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Every parent’s dream is to open their mailbox and find that bulgy envelope from Harvard, Notre Dame, or Northwestern, addressed to one of their very own children. It’s a common desire to be one of the few accepted for such an honor, an opportunity only available for the best of the best. These and many other prestigious universities are said to be the best in the nation and everything—programs, education, opportunities, success—is top notch.

It’s said that these schools breed the most brilliant minds in the nation, and so far, it seems to add up. However, what about all the other geniuses? The ones who graduated from the state or small colleges? Even the average joe is able to succeed without a diploma from Yale. Thus, while attending an Ivy League could most likely land you a job within the first five seconds of an interview, the question arises whether or not the cost is worth the outcome… and if it’s somehow “better” than the others. Are the stereotypes of success really better than state schools?

To find an answer, 10 seniors were given a series of questions about these universities and their worth. In a general census, students considered a prestigious college at some point in their high school careers. Reasons why included better programs, broader opportunities, and the recognition in general. “I have considered prestigious colleges because of their reputations,” Dylan Sable states. But what really is reputation all about? A much deeper response from Owen Schultz brings a unique approach. “I consider prestigious colleges due to the desire to be deemed as ‘smart’ by society.”

What gives prestigious schools the “prestigious” title? Schools like Notre Dame may say that they have better programs and opportunities, but the truth is, the same, quality education can be found at the University of Minnesota. And the best part is that it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. When researching comparable qualities of the schools, the only differences were ranking, money, weather, and acceptance rates.

So what is the difference? What makes some schools prestigious and other schools fall short? It’s all about how a college presents itself. If a university limits the number of applicants, advertises their resources like a business markets a product, people will be interested. We only want the best of the best, and if a school is offering that, chances are… WE WILL WANT IT. The greatest opportunity a prestigious school can offer, though, is a community of intelligent, hardworking people. Intellectual collaboration is key to any learning curve. This is the real draw and the actual advantage a prestigious school has over a state school; this is the opportunity that is worth your money.

So back to the question: prestigious schools, are they better? Yes and no. The idea of better opportunities may be nothing short of stereotypes, but the intellectual community is something you can’t get anywhere else. However, there are many state schools that are stepping up their game and offering similar opportunities. Pretty soon, there will be little to no difference in these universities. All except for the cost of your education.