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The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Massive debt for prestigious colleges indefensible

The children of this generation, from a very young age, fantasize about which college/university they want to go to and what they want to major in. Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgetown and Brown are only a few institutions included in the mix. Their top tier academics and recognizable names are both well-defined advantages, but is $60,000-$70,000 per year tuition really worth the education? As long as you come out of college with a degree and manageable debt then you’re in good shape.

In fact, the name of the college a student attends does not matter in their future, as long as they obtain a job after college. Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a higher-ed journalist who has contributed to the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, testified to this fact: “It matters not at all where they got their degrees but rather what they did with their time in the colleges they did attend.” If a student isn’t using their time wisely at Yale, they’re a worse student than one at a state university who is busting their ass. O’Shaughnessy goes on to cite “Mary,” a special affairs consultant for a well-known federal agency who chose to be anonymous. Part of her job is to hire new employees; she has to see which person fits best in the offered position. She said, “We have smart people from every type of college you can imagine—people from Middle Tennessee State University working alongside people from Harvard. And guess what? They’re all doing the same work with great enthusiasm, smarts and capability.”

With the outcome being the same, how can such expensive educations be justified?

In short, they can’t. The best option for a senior coming out of high school is to choose the school that will leave them with the least amount of debt (or no debt, if possible). I would recommend students go somewhere that is challenging, with a reputable name, but where they can still also hold a respectable grade point average. These reputable names don’t always have to come with a huge price tag. Especially if you’re expected to come out of college with no debt, it is most important to squeeze every ounce of education out of your college years.

Growing up, the naïve and young Liam Marmo wanted to apply to as many “big name” colleges as possible. By “big name” schools, I mean the universities that you constantly hear about winning national championships in sports, not necessarily “big name” for their academics. Boston College, the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California were only a few of the universities I wanted to apply to. But, when it came time to start my college application process, my college advisor had a bit of advice for me. She stressed that all of my choices were out of state universities and I would also end up a “small fish in a big sea.” Even if I were to get into these “big name” schools, I would be paying a lot of money to go to any of them. Also, with an average (B+) grade point average, the probability of getting a big scholarship and other financial aid at a “big name” school is slim to none. For example, for entrance in to Boston College, a student needs a 3.67 unweighted GPA, a 2116 on the combined SAT and an ACT score of a 32. For all of these standards, I was close, but nonetheless below the line.

I decided to apply to smaller, respectable schools where I had a better chance of getting a scholarship. My aspirations of going to those big name schools vanished and the names of Providence College, Fairfield University and Loyola University Maryland all popped up on the screen. All of these schools were going to be tough to get into, but with my grades the chances of getting a scholarship increased. For example, at Loyola University Maryland, a student needs a 3.53 unweighted GPA, a combined SAT of 1851 and an ACT score of 27 Loyola doesn’t even require applicants to send in their test scores. With my grades and accolades, Loyola was able to give me a $16,000/year scholarship; something I wouldn’t have even come close to at any of the other “big name” schools mentioned before. Understanding that my reaches weren’t financially possible was the first step to finding my niche in a smaller, much more affordable school.

In 2011, economists Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale published a study covering 19,000 college graduates and reached the conclusion that, “whether you went to Penn or Penn State, Williams College or Miami University of Ohio, job outcomes were unaffected in terms of earnings.” As long as you go to a credible school its name will not affect the type of job you end up with, no matter how many years of student debt it costs you.

More important than the name of the school listed on your resume is the job experience below it. Whether in the summer or during the school year, the experience you gain will set you apart from your competitors. I have heard countless of my caddying coworkers,

some of whom went to very prestigious schools like Villanova University, agonize over not finding a job because their resume is bare. This happens across the country, where students graduate with their degree from a prestigious university and are stuck in their student debt without jobs that pay enough to offset that debt.

All things considered, the name of the college you attend truly does not matter. Students, alongside parents, need to come to the realization that an overvalued, inflated education is not the way to go when sending their child off to college. If a person has a degree from a university, many internships and jobs they can put on their resume and a deep understanding of the field in which they want to work in, there is no doubt in my mind that that person will be strongly considered for that job.

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    AnonymousDec 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    This is a great piece! Should submit to NY Times! Why not?

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Massive debt for prestigious colleges indefensible