College Selectivity Doesn’t Equal Satisfaction

Quartz: “Many of us think the college or university we attend matters a lot. If we go to Harvard, or Oxford, we will be happier, smarter, richer and land a killer job. A new report from Challenge Success, a nonprofit that is part of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, suggests this thinking is almost entirely wrong. The white paper, A ‘Fit’ Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity, finds that college selectivity … does not determine how much a student learns, how happy they become or how satisfied they are with their jobs.”

“Better learning, it seems, is associated with better studying, not brand-name colleges. What about happiness and general life satisfaction? Since 2014, Gallup-Purdue has conducted a survey of job satisfaction and general well-being among college graduates … found no relationship between college selectivity and either broad measure of life satisfaction, arguing that what seems to matter is ‘what students are doing in college and how they are experiencing it’.”

“OK, maybe selective colleges don’t make you happier. Do they make you richer? … Some research shows graduates of ‘high quality’ institutions earn 6% to 8% more out of college than graduates of ‘low-quality’ institutions (those which accept everyone). That percentage rises to 16% to 19% a decade after college. The authors argue that it is hard to disentangle how much of this comes from the student and how much comes from the institution.”