I was at a party recently in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Sometimes I avoid gatherings were parents are because they know of my college counseling work! This topic was of particular interest to me: one of the parents was lamenting that her son and “everyone that he knows” isn’t working full time, nearly two years after graduation. This wasn’t quite right as her son graduated in 2020. And, of course, the pandemic certainly is part of the blame.
But her son was a mediocre student at a college that is not known – fairly or unfairly – as a good college. Yes, I realize the groans… Yet, I must forewarn parents of younger students that all the blather about not mattering where one goes to college has to be one of the most ignorant comments I hear. Where one goes to college has all sorts of life implications unrelated to careers but given that I spend some portion of my practice working with recent college graduates trying to gain career footingI feel morally obliged to warm parents who are about to invest money in college that being penny wise and pound foolish makes no sense.
Given my work, I likely know more recent college graduates than just about any adult. I keep in touch with many of my former college counseling students from different parts of Connecticut’s shoreline area (Guilford, Madison, Old Lyme, Essex, East Lyme, and Old Saybrook). Some tell me their great news (one of my former students who went to Princeton is working on a huge project for Microsoft) and some tell me their tough news (one of my former students who took five years to graduate from a fairly unknown college is “desperate” to find a job.).
Research bears this point out but I’ll simply suggest with distinct anecdotal evidence: my former college counseling students who are attending top colleges are pretty much all employed with good full time jobs. The most distinct common denominator of those that I am working with in my career counseling practice (at least in terms of finding work as opposed to finding more enjoyable work) went to colleges that are not considered “good”. Yes, I know the groans occur and some part of me agrees with the somewhat silly notion of what makes a college good. Don’t shoot the messenger. Focus on helping your child.