Survey Says: The Type of College You Go To Doesn’t Matter

I do love when a Gallup poll confirms my assumptions! 30,000 adults with bachelor’s degrees were surveyed, and it was found that when it comes to how engaged you are at work, and whether or not you’re “thriving in all areas of our well-being”, the type of college you went to — public or private, big or small, competitive or not — doesn’t matter nearly as much as the type of experience you had there. And what type of experience is that? you might ask.

Instead, the study found that support and experiences in college had more of a relationship to long-term outcomes for these college graduates. For example, if graduates recalled having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, their odds of being engaged at work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in all aspects of their well-being. And if graduates had an internship or job in college where they were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, were actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and worked on projects that took a semester or more to complete, their odds of being engaged at work doubled as well.

Relevant internships, strong relationships with professors, learning useful things in class, long-term projects! All of that sounds lovely. And admittedly unfamiliar to this private school English major!

Unfortunately, these factors are pretty rare for students across the board:

Only 14% of graduates strongly agree they were supported by professors who cared, who made them excited about learning, and who encouraged their dreams. Further, just 6% of graduates strongly agree they had an internship or job that allowed them to apply what they were learning, worked on a long-term project, and were actively involved in extra-curricular activities. Those who strongly agree to having had all six of these experiences during their time in college are the rarest of all (3%).

Most of my professors made me excited about learning, and I felt like they cared about the material if not me specifically. I was never good at proactively seeking guidance from professors or, um, anyone really, so I blame myself. But I do feel like, for better or worse, my college experience was more about reading a lot of books and having my mind blown apart and developing unrequited crushes on poets than it was my post-college well-being and my well, future. I’m not sure I regret it, it was wonderful, but I’m also not sure I can recommend it as a sound investment, either. You know?


5 Comments / Post A Comment

guenna77 (#856)

honestly, that sounds pretty much like my college experience, but i was a business major so long term group projects and interning were pretty heavily stressed. with you on the professor thing though. i wouldn’t say i had strong personal relationships with them, and that’s on me. but i did have one who knew me and liked me well enough to recommend me for an internship that ended up starting my post-college career.

kellyography (#250)

I’m sure that with regard to how engaged you are at work, it doesn’t matter, but getting that job (or even into grad school!) in the first place can still matter a great deal to the person looking at your resume, especially if they’re older or more old-fashioned. My boss is one of those guys – if you haven’t gone to a school he’s heard of, he assumes you might not be as serious or ambitious as someone who has.

That’s true. As much as I love to disavow my alma mater I can’t pretend having it on my resume hasn’t helped me in ways I don’t even know.

Trilby (#191)

I don’t believe it for a minute. They are just saying that so everyone can have “self-esteem.” People who go to the top schools feel very proud of themselves and make all kinds of great contacts that help them through life. And their kids can get into these great schools as legacies. The doors of power open for them.

MissMushkila (#1,044)

@Trilby I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed between myself (state school grad – a strong midwest school for research and ranked pretty well but big and anonymous), and my friends from truly prestigious schools (Ivies, small private colleges) is the pride thing. My friends from really great schools carry themselves and interact with the world as though they expect to be valued and believe they have bargaining power even straight out of school. On the flip side, I find myself going into interactions with people from these schools feeling somewhat intimidated and automatically assuming they know more than me – even though over time it becomes clear that they really don’t. I think that benefits them a lot. #anecdata

Comments are closed!