College Counseling For Connecticut Students: Prestige – How much does it matter?

By College Counseling

An interesting paradigm shift seems to have occurred in my second decade of providing college counseling to students from Connecticut’s affluent suburbs.  When I started college counseling in the 2000s, most parents from Madison, Guilford, Essex, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, Stonington and other Shoreline towns, the parents were highly focused on the prestige of the college.  The students were somewhat interested, depending on their psychological type. Of late, as odd as this sounds, the parents have downplayed prestige more than students.  The name brand of the college matters more to the child than the parent.  Strange!

Our college counseling work is designed to guide our clients strategically towards goals that serve them.  My comments are as objective as possible.

Prestige matters a great deal to some from a psychological perspective.  My first book – Motivate Your Son – described different psychological patterns.  Some “Star Boys” and to different degrees “Boss Boys”, “Dreamer Boys”, and “Worry Boys”, prestige matters a great deal from a self-esteem perspective.  To others, prestige is not that significant a factor.  Some parents, in an effort to lower the stress of both their children and themselves, will say “we don’t care about the name of the college.”  And, for some – both parent and child – this is true. For others, as noted increasingly the child, this is a false front.   When I’m alone with the student, the student will tell me that he/she cares about the school because it will make them feel good if they went to a “good school.”   Some parents also seem to be fooling themselves.  They do care.  But they don’t want to feel stressed.  I get it.  I really do!

Prestige matters a great deal to some from a practical perspective. I was a lawyer before starting The Learning Consultants.   In my big city, big firm legal world, the pedigree of applicants was an absolute screening mechanism.  I recall vividly telling the hiring partner at my Washington DC firm that I knew of a lawyer from my previous job who was amazing.  The partner asked where the guy attended school and then simply replied “we don’t hire from that school… we only hire from ….”.   I saw variations of this pattern while I consulted to venture capital firms and other elitist organizations.  Believe me… I moved to small town Connecticut because my values were not aligned with such views.   Nonetheless, I am highly aware of what’s called the “good school head nod”.  Those making their way into investment banking, management consulting, law, medicine, and other prestigious professions should know that a prestigious college is what I call “an asset with leverage.”   Yes, people can always point out outliers – the uncle who went to community college and became a millionaire with his car dealership – but those who go to name brand schools typically dominate the hiring classes of certain fields.

Prestige does not matter – or at least matter that much – for some professions.  Elementary school teachers in Madison, Guilford, Essex, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, Stonington and other Shoreline towns do not need to attend a top tier college.  The same is true for many other jobs and career paths.  Again, all that matters is what’s important for our college counseling clients.

More information on college to career can be found here:  Career Counseling Connecticut

In any event, we will help you sort out this question and others as you move through the college process.

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CEO, The Learning Consultants and Connecticut’s top private education consultant
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