Deciding where to go college is not only a big decision for a family but it is also a big financial investment. Often, students are quick to only use criteria in shaping their college list that impacts their immediate future. Are the residence halls nice? Is the recreation center updated? Does the dining hall offer organic options? These are all great questions to ask on your college tours but I propose that students, and families, take a good hard look at the long-term picture and consider the impact their college choice will have on the student’s future.
A group called PayScale.com has conducted surveys over the past few years that examine how well students do when they graduate from specific colleges and what the return on that initial college investment will look like. This past week, The Huffington Post ran a story about the twelve top paying liberal arts schools. This survey looks at how well the graduates from schools such as Harvey Mudd and Colgate University do in terms of their starting salary in a job and their career median salary.
However, considering the value of a college degree does not just mean looking at the salary you will make coming out of college. It is also about understanding the kinds of connections you will be able to make as a result of being an alumnus from a particular college. When starting to think about going to college thinking about being part of an alumni network may seem like the furthest thing away. However, the value of a strong alumni network at a college may be crucial to your success both during college, in regards to internship opportunities, but also upon graduation when you are looking for a job. Having a strong alumni base will help you draw connections when it comes to your career interest, location you want to be working, and advice you are seeking in the profession.
Therefore, when you are starting to work on your college list don’t just think about your next four years, think about the lifetime of success that a particular college may be able to provide.