Few people would argue that a good reputation helps in all circles of life. It can probably be argued that a prestigious college degree can certainly enhance your life, but it might be a tougher argument to say that it will “make” your career. A career is made up of many parts, and education is just one of those parts. Here are a few thoughts on the effects of a prestigious degree.
Prestigious degree can open some doors
In many cases, people are more comfortable with names that they recognize. The “prestigious” degree gives you instant name recognition, and for some people this is as valuable as knowledge and skill. The reason is that school is a testing ground, and if a given school consistently turns out good students, there can be a perception that you are probably a good student as well. In addition, certain schools just have a certain “aura” about them. Schools like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and CalTech are assumed to be populated by smart people. Therefore, a degree from a “prestigious” school can function as a good first impression before an impression is even made.
Some people want to hire smart people with skills, not just paper
Even though a prestigious reputation can help, it shouldn’t be assumed that it is the only path to success because people who went to non-prestigious schools get good jobs all the time. As mentioned above, the degree is one part of the equation and people often look beyond the degree to the actual person. Many people look for personality, charisma, skill set, intelligence, and relevant experience. Sometimes vocational experiences carry a person much farther than education in that they have demonstrated their ability to do work. A prestigious degree is nice, but it doesn’t guarantee that someone is going to function in a given career.
The specific school can work for or against you depending on allegiances
People take their school loyalties very seriously. Sometimes this can get carried into the workforce in the form of rivalries. Many large prestigious schools have a rival which they play in major sporting events. It is not unheard of for someone to spurn a person who graduated from their rival. This may seem petty, but rivalry against an opponent can run very deeply with some people. Therefore, there are times when a prestigious degree may work against someone in a particular organization.
Overall, a prestigious degree is usually an asset to one’s career. Most people respect the prestigious educational institutions of the world and reward graduates accordingly. That said, one should not assume that their road is laid out for them simply because of their degree. A career also requires hard work, opportunity, and demonstration of experience over time.