The Prestige

I have to decide on which graduate school to attend by the end of the week. My decision as of Monday night was all but set, but then I received an email yesterday morning that changed everything. The email was an acceptance letter to a very prestigious university. I never thought I would ever get into a school like this one. I never even entertained the possibility of getting in. I always felt that it was beyond my caliber.

My dad has been ecstatic ever since I told him. He has told me repeatedly that this is a dream school: most people only dream of being accepted to this school. He keeps saying “How can you say no to (name of the university)?!”

I have always felt that prestige is highly overrated. The content of a product is far more important than the label. If you go to a well known school but learn nothing, the degree is meaningless. What you learn matters more than where you learn it from. Unfortunately, from what I have seen and heard, prestige does matter. Employers often do care where the degree is from.

Despite the amazing reputation of this school, I’m ambivalent. Having the name of a very prestigious university on my resume/CV would definitely be a plus. I don’t know if I’m resisting because my dad is so insistent that I go (teenage rebellion, except that I’m not a teenager) or because this might actually be the best school for me and I don’t want it to be. I was ready to accept a different offer, and now I have to reevaluate everything. How terrible would it be if the decision I make coincides with what my parents want?

Do you remember in Gilmore Girls how Rory was always set on going to Harvard but then was accepted to Yale too? She made a pro-con list and felt that Yale was the better choice, even though Harvard had been her only goal for years. My dilemma feels a lot like that (except I’m not deciding between two Ivy League schools).

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4 Responses to “The Prestige”

  1. Lisa Says:

    As long as you feel the program they have is a good fit for you (and it won’t kill you financially), then go to the better school. No question in my mind.

    It shouldn’t matter as much as it does…. but it does! The name of that school on your resume will indeed open doors. Not only because of a perception of a ‘better’ education (which isn’t entirely inaccurate, I would definitely concede that an MBA from Wharton or Harvard is a better education than mine from SUNY Albany) but the networks from more elite schools are much stronger.

  2. Amy Says:

    Remember to consider the money. If a degree from prestigious U will cost you $60,000, and a degree from Regular U comes with a financial package, that’s a consideration. Also, it’s your life, not your dad’s…

  3. Jonathan Says:

    Take. The. Fellowship.

    That is all.

  4. Monte_Carlo Says:

    I’d choose the school that wants you for Ph.D.


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