For decades, the honour of graduating university or college with a degree has been a strong one. Students learn so much over the course of their degree, but the most important lesson is value for money – specifically, their money. Grad school is expensive; there are some prospective students that choose not to attend before they even get the chance to experience even a millisecond of it. For some of the lucky ones that can afford to go, the decision of which institution to attend is the next big question. While it is tempting to go to the same university or college as all of one’s friends, it pays (literally) to sit down and really consider which college options are viable, which you like personally the most, and the kind of kick start to the career that each school can offer. Perhaps surprisingly, studies and research show that the school one opts to attend can have a significant impact on their future graduating income. But that is not there it stops.
Statistics consistently showcase that individuals with a degree of some kind will do significantly better than those with no education past high school at all. It is important to note that these statistics reflect only those that chose to participate, but nonetheless it seems to be the same consensus. Millions of students every year put their trust and relentless hard work into earning a degree, and while that trust is not entirely misplaced, it turns out that working one’s behind off for a degree at one university does not always amount to the same graduate financial success as it does at a different university. Some universities operate more smoothly than others. There is nothing wrong with that; it is just the way it is. Somewhat understandably, however, is that schools that have a reputation for being exceptionally excellent by academic standards are likely to give students that attend them a literal pay rise. Students that attended universities that were more exclusive or known for their academic achievements, often go on to be higher earners than their fellow students, despite them studying the exact same degree.
It sounds far-fetched, but it checks out. And more than the school’s exclusivity, is the family history. A student that sees their parent kill spiders every day will kill the spider. A student that sees their family find another way and capture and release the spider, is likely to go further into the unknown to make the impossible happen. It is for this reason – among others – that there absolutely is a graduate income gap that is entirely dependant on which grad school one chooses to invest their time and money into. The family background, for example, is tipped to have influence on any given student’s achievement as well. students that come from more wealthy backgrounds inadvertently set themselves up to be the Queen B’s of grad school, the ones that complete their degree not only with a qualification in their profession, but job offers of more income and better duties. The phase ‘it’s all about who you know’ could not be truer in this sense, and it seems that the children of the wealthy and privileged are given the upper hand purely for being born into substantial wealth. While unfortunate, it is a fact of higher education in the US education system that many have come to accept.
There are different approaches to higher education. What works for one student will simply not work for the next. Some students take on additional intellectual stances, opting to learn German online or teach themselves how to write in Japanese, while others prefer to party or volunteer to build houses over the summer. Students that pick up an active learning interest for their studies will foster their own sense of wonder and intellectual adventure. The most selective graduate schools take it even further, with their hyper exclusivity acting as a kind of additional bar that sets them even higher than the rest. The offset consequence of this exclusivity is that graduates from those prestigious grad schools are greeted with an extra layer of kindness during interviews for graduate jobs and a higher regard for their degree – even if the schools in question do not technically perform any better academically than other schools.
Students gain a healthier understanding of what they want from their first graduate job when they have been given the tools to exceed by their chosen college or university. Generally speaking, these tools range from anything between college exclusivity to family income. While a student’s chosen graduate school does not sign the dotted line for how much money they can earn as graduates, it certainly helps to have some kind of luck or privilege on your side, whether that be in the form of extraordinary academic performance or grad school exclusivity. It pays (literally) to think about which school a student wants to go to before they get there, even before the application process begins. College is a whirlwind – every student should be able to enjoy it without wondering if they have chosen the right institution to kick start their career.