The complicated but real answer is: “it depends on your future career goals.”
Some clarity first: this particular article is not about the cost-benefit analysis of attending a name brand school. The insane cost of tuition at many private schools has definitely made it sensible from an economic perspective for many students to choose less expensive schools. We totally agree.
But, the name of the college does matter for most others. I double emphasize that how much the name is worth paying for is a different and more complicated issue.
For the sake of examining a single variable, let’s simply say that a student is comparing a school that is highly regarded by many with a school that is not well known.
Moreover, most college career planning and placement offices exclusively work with large companies, non-profits and government agencies.
That large and/or prestigious organizations and companies spend the bulk of their recruiting time and resources at highly ranked universities is a simple fact.
For that reason, if having the possibility of working for large/prestigious organizations is part of your practical investment in choosing a college, then “yes”, the name of the school does matter.
Indeed, it matters a great deal.
The counter-argument may be that you can still send resumes to any organization in order to land an interview. Here’s our real-life observation and one that has been confirmed by many others in my research.
Hiring committees need to sift through hundreds of resumes to choose the few people that warrant an interview. Candidate A from Yale, or other prestigious school, had his/her resume moved to the interview pile without much consideration about the rest of the resume. Candidate B from Relatively Unknown College had to have some combination of (1) top grades (2) the right major/experiences and/or (3) a recommendation by someone with influence in the organization in order to get an interview.
If having your child have the greater ability to land job interviews after college is important, then “yes” it does matter.
There are numerous other reasons which will be addressed in separate articles.
I hesitate to provide arguments against those whose hearts might be in the right place. But, we have worked with too many unemployed 20 somethings from relatively unknown schools to believe that we should let the sentiment – that the name of the school does not matter – go unchallenged.