describe the imageWe know that good grades and a good SAT score are important for gaining admittance to an exceptional college.  However, we typically do not elucidate specifically why a good college is so important.  The answer is more encompassing than simply a quality education. 

Though ideologues might be annoyed at me, here are the practical reasons to strive to attend a great college:

1) your resume

2) peer groups

3) networking

4) a great education

For the rest of your life, you can tell people where you attended college, and, depending on the college, people will form an immediate impression of you.  If you graduated from Princeton, for instance, people will automatically assume (with a fair amount of certainty) that you are hardworking and intelligent.  Graduation from a great school is a signal of ambition, talent, and work ethic.  You have the potential to leverage the name and prestige of your alma mater throughout your career.

It's human nature to compete and adapt to our surroundings.  While most schools have highly talented individuals, without an environment of motivated students, even the most talented students are unlikely to push far beyond their peers and truly realize their potential.  When you are surrounded by high achieving peers, you will naturally compete with and compare yourself to them.  Doing so will challenge you to match or surpass their ambition and hard-work and allow you to reach your full potential.

Networking not only helps you secure available jobs but also helps you find out about jobs, often when no openings were listed.  Without connections, optimal employment can be much more difficult.  Students at acclaimed universities often have well-connected families who can help with networking after college; the addition of surrounding yourself with driven peers with well-connected families greatly magnifies everyone's network.  These networks provide a self-reinforcing advantage that enhances the potential for success of everyone in them.

Finally, a quality education teaches valuable skills.  Your major will give you industry specific knowledge that will help you find a job after college and allow you to optimally perform at this job.  The general studies classes will help you be more well-rounded.

The benefits of a great college extended far beyond just the education.  The value of an institution's prestige, a high-achieving peer group, and great networks make reputable universities exponentially more valuable.