It matters where you go to school. People constantly say it doesn’t, but, in my experience, it does.

It matters for several reasons. First, colleges are brands, and branding matters in the professional world. Second, many employers across the country see targeting top-tier schools for recruitment as a cost-effective way of poaching talented individuals for internship or full-time positions. Third, and most importantly, a top-tier university boasts a more academic, professional and intellectual atmosphere. The first of these two reasons is unfortunate and, to some degree, the third is often overplayed.

1316126966As a transfer student from a solid — but not top-tier — private university, I’ve heard both sides of the argument. Surely, someone who works hard at a less prestigious school will do better than one who doesn’t work hard at all at a more prestigious school. This assertion is entirely accurate, but in general, is not recognized quite so much in many areas of the professional world. Employers, at least from my and many of my peers’ experiences, want students from top-tier schools because there is a pervasive sentiment that a student at a top school is an inherently better candidate. However, this assumption can sometimes be entirely wrong.

While there are certainly exceptions, I have found that students at Georgetown will outwork, outperform and outthink many of our peers across the United States. We are one of the few schools that prides itself on a culture of overachievement. Students here take full course loads while working part-time jobs or playing on this or that athletic team and fostering a culture of dynamism that few other campuses can boast. And in many ways, this makes Georgetown a “superior” university.

On the other hand, there are some gross discrepancies in the assertion that the school you attend will either make or break your professional career. Going to an Ivy League school will certainly open up the path to concerted recruiting efforts by top employers. Simply having Georgetown on a resume is an immense benefit many students do not realize. However, there are successful individuals out there who may have come from humbler beginnings or universities.

The stereotypes surrounding students at less prestigious schools make for very unfair categorizing. There are certainly stereotypes of students who attend enormous public universities — whether regarding their intelligence or partying and studying habits. However, some of the brightest people I know went to these schools. A vast percentage of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies went to these very universities, and to judge relative success based solely on one’s school would be to ignore the facts.

On the flip side, there are a distinct handful of students at Georgetown that we all scratch our heads at, and not just in the, “Oh, he’s probably just really good at [insert class/subject here]” way. I mean in the “How in the name of God did this guy get into Georgetown?” way. I know plenty of students at less prestigious universities who I would rather hire than some students here, and to unjustly categorize a student based solely on their school of attendance would be to do a disservice to the purpose of education itself.

Of course, it is very easy for me to say this at Georgetown. I definitely enjoy the reaction that the Georgetown name and “brand” brings. Every time I do it, however, I feel a certain discomfort, for I know plenty of students who are smarter, more involved and will likely be more successful than me but would not garner that same reaction.

Much like with the clothing brand on someone’s necktie or shoes, it is equally unfair to judge someone based solely on their university attendance. After all, some of the most successful people never even went to college at all.

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