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Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?
16

Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

(OP)
I have a daughter that is a senior in high school. She has done very well academically and with standardized testing. She has applied to a wide range of universities, from small, prestigious schools to large state schools. She plans to major in engineering (of some sort) and has a desire to pursue advanced degrees in the future. Does a degree from a more prestigious school help? Is it an advantage to acceptance to graduate school? Does it open doors when looking for your first job? The real trade off is the upfront cost. I am willing to make this investment if it provides a true advantage. I know that once you get into your career, that performance is what matters. I have done quite a bit of research on the topic, but the conclusions seem highly subjective. I know there is a wide range of professionals on this site, and am interested in your opinions.

Thanks!

For the record, I graduated from a state university and have never seen it as a hinderance to my engineering career, but I may be oblivious to opportunities that others had.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I graduated from Marquette (ME plus minor in naval science).

I worked at Apple computer 1998-1999 (iMac debut era). I was surrounded by MEs from MIT and Stanford. I believe I was competitive in the raw IQ department, but it was clear that my cohorts really did get a better, more thorough education at their schools.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

The rule of thumb I saw is that if your school is in the top 20% then ranking matters, but outside of that nobody cares. And of course, by your third job your degree is pretty much of academic interest only (sorry).

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

The question is probably more if the school provides a better education. This likely is hard to answer. But I would trust a school that has hard academic requirements more than one that admits based on ability to pay, or based on some sort of social-engineering scheme.

Unfortunately the prestigious degrees get diluted by students who gain entrance not through academics, but because rich parents "find a way" to get their children in.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

OK, I'll fess up I went to one of the top one engineering universities globally, according to some surveys. Usually in the top 3.

While other kids were messing about with bits and bobs in their labs, we had full sized engines, and a steam turbine/generator set, in the basement. We didn't do experiments on video.


Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I graduated from a highly rated school, and the surveys all claim that there is a lifetime advantage in earnings for going to that school; I, however, went when tuition was 1/5th of the expected starting salary, it's currently more like 1/2 of the starting salary.

The other advantage of going to such a school is some cachet of credibility/reputation that comes with it; I don't get called out as often as someone from a lower-rated school might.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I think your job offers improve with a BA from a prestigious school regardless of how well you actually did. I think your BA education may be a little better at a prestigious school for some degrees but not all. The more specialized degrees such as electrical, mechanical, aerospace are probably better but civil may not be. Civil is so diverse, I doubt a BA can be that much better. Just too much unrelated ground to cover in 4 years. I do not know if the cost/benefit is there for a BA in any curriculum. It took 10 years to pay off my student loan. I know some schools were 2-4 times the cost of mine and I know I would have never been able to pay those loans off.

Masters and above is probably really worth more. I would imagine between the more advanced facilities and more interesting research projects, it would almost have to be a plus provided the student applies themselves.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

The biggest difference, education-wise, across all schools, is really how the curriculum doles out theory and practice, and how much. There are definitely highly ranked state schools that produce degrees that will get great jobs at a fraction of cost of a private school.

On the other hand, going to a top high-school didn't seem to do much for my kids, although they did get into a fairly highly rated school. Oddly, they got rejected by their "safety schools," possibly because those schools considered it unlikely that they would actually matriculate there.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

(OP)
Thanks for all of the replies! I really appreciate you all sharing your perspectives and experience. A few comments to responses:

Ron247: I could not agree more about a degree in Civil Engineering. Both my wife and I have civil degrees. We have had that discussion already. My daughter does not plan to major in civil. She wants to get a degree in something more "high tech". It stings a little, but I will not hold it against her.

IRstuff: My daughter goes to a public high school. From what I have read, admittance to a university does not take into account the quality off the high school. It seems that the folks that run higher education want to level the playing field. I am sure that top tier private high schools do a better job of preparing kids for a more rigorous curriculum.

EnergyProfessional: I agree for the most part. In our tours of schools, the exposure to cutting edge research and the general facilities seem better. In addition, some of the most impressive professors that we have met with were at the top tier schools. My thought process is more along the lines of helping her build a resume coming out of under grad for applications for her first job or grad school. I am sure that you are familiar with the phrase "perception is reality". So, when a firm is looking through a couple dozen resumes and they see one from StateU vs TopEngineeringU, does TopEngineeingU get you the interview? Obviously once the job or graduate position is landed, performance is what counts.

This has been a tough process in these times. Our plan was to make a tour of prospective universities in the spring and summer of this year. With few exceptions, these have all been cancelled or done virtually. In the next few months, she will have to put her signature on the line and commit.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

If I was to reboot my career after 25 years, I would go into biomedical engineering.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

It's not just overall quality of the school or their ME program. Some schools have specialties that attract attention from certain industries and employers.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

(OP)
TheTick - That is her first option. To me, most of this stuff seems like science fiction.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote:

From what I have read, admittance to a university does not take into account the quality off the high school

The high school I was referring to is public; but like many such places, it's a college-prep school, entrance exams and all, with a full load of AP/IB; there typically 40-50 IB diplomates every year. Nevertheless, while what's promised is a level playing field, it's not clear that really true; the acceptance rate to one specific state university is over 90%, compared to a more typical 6% for the top-tier schools in the same system. While college entrance is supposedly a meritocracy; it's difficult to distinguish oneself based solely on grades, which is why extra-curricular activities/awards and the personal essay is such a big deal. As a example, UCLA reported receiving more than 110,000 applications for about 6,000 slots about 5 years ago., so anyone entering essentially had to distinguish themselves from 17,000 other people looking for that same slot.

I don't envy you the process; I'm glad my youngest is past that wicket. Best of luck, and don't forget that some schools will wait until the very last day of the acceptance season to announce their results.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

My experience has been that the biggest impact for the transition from graduating to landing a job is that smaller to medium size firms' hiring managers tend to hire from their own alma maters. So, it has less to do with the prestige of a specific school in the national sense and much more to do with the specific hiring manager and where they went to school. So, if interested in engineering I would pick a school that is known for turning out engineers, simply for the reason that you are more likely to have more "connections" that are past graduates in hiring positions now. The education itself may not be that different, but the built in connections can make a difference when it comes to landing a first job (I believe there are plenty of well known engineering schools out there that are much more affordable than the typical "prestigious" schools however).

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

OHIOMatt,
If your daughter is interested in a more "tech" focused career, something to look at is the commercialization activity out of the various universities, such as startups that originated in labs and incubators affiliated with the achool. I find this to be a more holistic indicator of the type of environment nurtured by the school and their overall attitude towards translating research into entrepreneurial success.
My alma mater (U Toronto) is highly ranked globally, but from my experiences it was not as supportive to startups as other Canadian schools like Waterloo when it came to commercialization support and IP ownership. That has changed recently, but it takes time to change the culture at an old institution like UofT, whereas newer schools like Waterloo had an entrepreneurial environment baked in from the start.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

If you aren't plastering your Alma Mater on your office walls, how would anyone really know/care where you came from, beyond such conversations during interviews or the hiring process?

Do people sit around in their 30s and 40s and still banter about what school they went to?


Anyway, I think school reputation is most important, in my experience in/with hiring teams. History of recent-grads that have been hired before, or interns/co-ops from that school also affects the reputation of that school. Hiring from "known quantity" schools seems safer than hiring from schools no one has first-hand experience with. I expect that bias is more influential than people expect.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

After a decade or two of looking at resumes, you'll will tend to see a (relatively) strong correlation between a quality school and the quality of the applicant sitting in front of you... not perfect, but a strong one. There will always be the student who rocks it no matter how poor the educational system, and always the moron who can't be spoon fed info to save their lives.

My BSEE was from UF, a school that is a good mix of theory and practicality. My MS was from Purdue, which leans very heavily on the theory side. I feel like the better education came from UF, but hiring managers zero in on the Purdue thing. This has been a relatively consistent pattern across my interviewing years. that said, after the first decade or so of experience, the schooling became less and less of an overall interest compared to my on-the-job experience.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Also +1 for biomedical engineering.

I'm a mechie who found myself in the med tech world even though the last biology class I took was in the 11th grade. It was certainly a wild ride but it changed my career outlook for the better.

I'm now working in software product management building a tool to improve design reviews across all industries, but I wouldn't be here were it not for the highly multidisciplinary team experiences I gained in medtech.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

For my first job, my school didn't really matter. I had co-oped for three summers and besides half the engineers, including the chief engineer, had graduated from the same school (maybe it did matter).

However, when I changed jobs 11 years alter, and I had my interview at McDonnell Douglas in 1980, they used a very formal procedure where they had a sort of point system. Not really a total point scheme but rather a plus/minus system. During the review of my application and resume, the person whom I was talking to noted that my university warranted a 'plus' and my field of study, another 'plus'. I know this was real as a few years later I was responsible for moving an application, for a guy we really wanted to hire, through the same process and I had to work with the corporate personnel people. Now this guy had over 20 years of experience in exactly the area we were looking for and he had great references and he was even known by one of our employees so we thought it would be a breeze to get him through the system and hired, but when I was was running the 'numbers' he got two 'minuses' one for his university and one for his field of study, which in all honestly had nothing to do with the job we were hiring him for, he had only worked in that field a couple of years and then changed jobs and learned his new one 'on-the-job'. Anyway, we finally managed to convince personnel that this was the guy we wanted and got him approved. Later, talking to my boss, we basically decided that it would been easier to hire him if he had just not listed his school and degree since it became a distraction for our corporate personnel people who were taught to 'go by the book'.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I think one needs to look more closely than "the school." Some state universities have reputations for great individual programs. If you're in one of those programs, I think there's no disadvantage compared to going to a school with huge overall name.

The quality of the student is much more influential than where he or she goes to school. I went to a high ranking school (taught there shortly also) and I teach at an average state school. The best and worst students are about the same in each. The difference is in the quantity. At my alma mater, we would have 4-5 superstars in a class of 40 students. At my current school, we'll have about two or three superstars in a class of 15-20. Our good students don't seem to have any trouble landing excellent positions, even at top firms.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I went to a reputable state school. it is ranked highly in my field and produces a lot of solid research in that field over the years. the tuition was low. but it didnt help with the job search, i got my first job because I was computer literate, which not many were back then. i actually produced my resume on my own computer in 1985 which was fairly unusual...

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Highly rated schools are highly rated for valid reasons. They have higher admission standards, better faculty, more educational resources. So it is perfectly logical that anyone searching for above average people would recruit graduates from good schools. The other major benefit of going to a good school is that you will develop an above average social circle, which is the key to success in life. This is just a matter of statistics, but there are no guarantees.

Students who are not competitive self-starters may not do well in in these "top" schools and will not benefit from the experience.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

When assisting your child in college selection, do not focus on the school ranking or reputation. Its a trap that can be a very costly mistake.

Best advice I got and followed was to ensure your child is in the upper half of the students at the school in grades and test scores. Top 25% is even better if possible. Great book by Malcolm Gladwell talks about this. Forgot which one. Per Gladwell's book, studies show that if your child gets into a top school, and is not in the upper half, they will struggle to keep up, lose confidence in themselves, and the chance they will graduate with the degree they desired is low. Most change majors to something less competitive or change schools. The study also showed that a student in a 2nd tier school who led the pack academically made more money in their career long-term than one who just made it through the top school.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

The Gladwell book is David and Goliath. I graduated in 2014 and I went to a school that boasted a top 10 ranking in ChemE and (more importantly) gave me the most financial aid and academic scholarship money. My advice on the non-academic side is to select a school that your daughter will feel comfortable at from a living situation perspective and offers more than a few extra-curricular activities (helped me manage my stress tremendously to have a reliable source of fun to recharge that didn't involve hauling drunken friends from parties). From a money perspective, you have to really dig to get all the money you can out of schools. I got an extra 5k added to my fin-aid package from my chosen school after a couple weeks of being a pain in the rear end.

From an academics standpoint, I do agree somewhat with the advice in David and Goliath but don't take that to mean go to the school that seems the easiest. Find a school that balances the stretch she has to make to graduate well along with how good the instruction staff seem to be. If I had known about the ratemyprofessors website before Sophomore year, my Freshman year would have been a lot different.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote:

Do people sit around in their 30s and 40s and still banter about what school they went to?

No, but, some companies go through a skills-mix exercise, or something, every so often, and you have to submit a resume, or tell your team what school you went to, etc., and then word gets around that you went to blah-blah U. THAT happened when I was already 30 yrs into my career. "THAT explains why he's so weird." winky smile

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Nope, not in the least. With few exceptions for office politics, industry IME tends to be very skills and ability oriented, not focused on pedantic crap like where one went to school. I received my undergrad from a tiny state school that was mostly a retirement gig for engineers who didn't want to retire. With one exception, the staff all were top professionals, had completed Phd's, held extremely high standards, and refused to let TAs teach. They failed the typical "rankings" simply bc they regularly failed students, doing both the students and industry a favor. If you graduated the ME program, you had demonstrated capability not only in understanding basic engineering concepts but also proven ability to use modern design and analytical tools, DFMA, and could even hold your own in the shop bc you had been fabricating lab setups and projects individually throughout. My first position after college was working for a Fortune 50's research dept near a "top 5" engineering school. The research dept's senior manager's reason for hiring me was something that I mistook for common among fresh grads - motivation. I completed a bachelor's in three years, 32 credits beyond the requirement. At the time I knew three CAD packages, two FEAs, and a CFD to a reasonably professional standard and I had enough skill and knowledge otherwise to jump onto his team and hold my own immediately. Needless to say it was a culture shock when I started the local MS program and teaching bc like other "top" schools, the program standards and students there were amazingly lackluster. The required coursework was entirely theoretical so many students learned just enough theory to pass the test and not much otherwise, they didn't have to spend any time in the shop nor did they have to learn anything about modern design or analytical tools. They did everything including capstone projects in large groups which resulted in many graduates who never took a CAD course and had always been the "powerpoint guy" or "report writer" and never did anything requiring thought. They also did not have a time limit on graduation, several students had been full-time for 6+ years and had taken quite a few classes multiple times. IIRC my alma-mater's time limit on full-time students was five years or they were out.

If you want a shock, read how the various magazine "rankings" are completed with a truly open mind then ask yourself if higher GPAs, degree completion rates, reputation among other academics, or the other "standards" used indicate a high quality education or a waste of money. I would argue the "better" rankings mostly indicate a lower standards and a lousy education. To be fair, I have worked with some really good graduates from "top" schools but many more who weren't so no, I wouldn't give you an extra nickel for a MIT, CalTech, Purdue, or otherwise grad, and I have had them all for junior engineers and colleagues.

Quote:

My daughter does not plan to major in civil. She wants to get a degree in something more "high tech".

I usually counsel younger folks that "tech" and manufacturing tend to be very urban-centric and that they should base their lives around where and the type of lifestyle they want to live, not a job. I thoroughly enjoy product development but as someone happiest in the mountains, I do occasionally consider pivoting to civil or other fields due to location and ease of working for oneself.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Every response here was very good. A couple of points I have not seen.

Many companies only recruit at a few colleges. Look at where the industry she wants to be in recruits.

Personally I think participation in collegiate design competitions is overlooked. Some prestigious schools don't participate or aren't competitive.

I went to the highly ranked engineering school in my state. It has the nam e recognition nesicary to get through HR to get an interview. However, 5 times my boss has been from the not so well known Engineering Technology school. In discussions with them my degree is worth more outside the state than theirs. If HR has to google the school it hurts.

I can not believe a private school is 10X more valuable than a public college unless you want to be a lawyer or dr that gets paid more for the diploma.

Co-Op programs can be a game changer for preparation a career. Also many Co-Ops discover what they really want is not where they started. So look at who has the best Co-Op or at least internships available from on campus recruiting.

Don't let her get scared if the engineering schools don't have enough girls.

Congratulate her on the hardwork that gave her the chance to consider this.


RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

In some engineering disciplines, internships are a MUST; both my sons had computer science internships every summer, during college. Both sons got, and accepted, offers from their final summer internships.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

6
So as a female engineer - let me say that having graduated from a REALLY good engineering school made people take me more seriously, when they were tempted to pass over me as a "cute little girl who thinks she can do engineering"... (at their own peril!)

I'd get the "well, honey, where'd you go to school?" and I'd answer and they would suddenly be willing to listen to me.

I hate that it matters, but yes, for women, it does.

Best of luck to your daughter and I'm cheering for her!

Please remember: we're not all guys!

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

(OP)
SLTA, thanks for your perspective. While I do not face the issues that you do, I am very aware of them. My wife is an engineer as well. She has had to battle for respect her entire career. We met in school, so she has a degree from state u as well. I had not thought of this being a way to gain more credibility in the field, but I can see were it could be a benefit.

For some additional information, it is our plan/goal for our daughter to graduate from school with little to no debt. My wife and I have been working and planning for this, since before she was born. Some may disagree with our approach, but we have approached parenting with the idea that we provide tools, resources, and guidance to provide our children with the highest chance of success (it is up to them to utilize the resources provided). In return, we have asked and in some cases demanded that they dedicate themselves to schooling, community service and extracurricular activities. My wife and I have tried to live our lives as examples of what delayed gratification looks like. My oldest daughter has embraced these principles. She works harder than any kid I know. She has tremendous intellectual curiosity, and she has a desire to succeed. She plays sports and is a great team mate and friend, but she refuses to engage in activities that would jeopardize her academic standing.

You all have provided valuable insight. I truly appreciate this community.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Given that applications are due within the coming month, I won't bother to harp too much on RANKING for extra-curricular activities; being recognized at state or national level puts your student in a much better position, but stay away from violin or piano, simply because there are just way too many of those.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote:

In some engineering disciplines, internships are a MUST

I would be surprised if anybody said that internships were not. Most hiring managers list a 2-3 year minimum experience requirement in entry level job ads today specifically to weed out lazy grads. Most students not hired prior to graduation and those struggling to be hired afterward also usually had little/no working experience during college.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I love SLTA's perspective. And I agree. Women most likely need everything they can get in this field to highlight their accomplishments. Prejudice will exist until until Webster's defines Prejudice as "An archaic term that applies to people who were not as smart and fair as they thought they were".

But here is my question. Being from the deep south, who is viewed as less competent, a female with no southern accent or a male with a really heavy Jethro Bodine accent? I ask the question to spur debate, because I know from past experience, I have been judged after saying about 2 words, and they were not "Uncle Jed". With that I state, I really feel sorry for females with a heavy southern accent.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I once had a supervisor working for me, she was from Atlanta, GA, and a graduate of Georgia Tech, and yes, she had the accent to go with it. We were working in the Detroit office at the time, and trust me, the people who got to know her learned very quickly that she could more then hold-up her end of the log. In fact, after about a year, I lost her to a hot project at corporate headquarters in Saint Louis.

I wish I could say that it ended well. While she was more than capable of doing the job that she had been handed, she ran into something that unfortunately has been a problem for individuals like her, that is smart, good looking, single women. Note that this was back in the mid-80's. While there was never any issues with her abilities and she was on the fast track, she ran into a sexual harassment problem. Now while there was no evidence that it ever interfered with her job nor her movement up the corporate ladder, it did have an impact on her mental state, and since the perpetrator was a highly regarded corporate executive, she decided to quit rather than have to put up with the crap (I said this was the mid-80's). She went back home and joined the family business, general contracting, and has done quite well for herself, eventually forming her own company and working her head off and loving every minute of it (we happen to share birthdays, month and day, and one of us calls the other every year to wish the other a happy birthday so we catch-up at least once a year). BTW, the "highly regarded corporate executive" finally crashed and burned and it wasn't a pretty sight, unfortunately it didn't happened until a couple of years after Ann had left the company. The really sad part is that while Ann has been successful in her business career, she never got over the personal scars, never marrying or even coming close, which I always felt bad about and wishing I had known what was happening to her back then, but she was no longer in my group, I got transferred back to SoCal, and when I finally did learn what had happened (from her) she had already gone back home.

Sorry about the sad tale, but...

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote:

Most hiring managers list a 2-3 year minimum experience requirement in entry level job ads

Not sure how THAT works; 2 yrs = 8 summers

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

My sons did internships every summer, but only the last two summers were meaningfully related to their majors; often, at the post-freshman year summer, you've really not yet learned enough to be productive in your major. So, if you're normal, you've only got barely 6 months of meaningful experience by graduation; both sons were lucky enough to get offers from the companies they interned at.

I don't know that companies necessarily want "experience," per se; they possibly want people that have had meaningful work experience to weed out potential problem employees.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I think there's a perception problem with internships. Students want them to be relevant to their amazing future career trajectory designing interstellar sub-atomic photocopiers, we just want to know that if you are plonked at a desk you'll be able to figure out where the printer is and how to make coffee without bugging everybody else.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote:

Not sure how THAT works; 2 yrs = 8 summers

Summer internships haven’t been “a thing” in many years. When I graduated a decade ago, working full time throughout your final two years + summers was already common as it is today. I’ve had interns that worked full time from their first semester onward, $20/hr vs minimum wage is a good motivator even if the work is boring at times. My current intern just started her second year, and while it doesn’t seem like they have much to offer you’d be amazed at their immediate usefulness handling grunt work in the “other” aspects of engineering like product definition, project management, warranty claims, process engineering, test, print approvals, etc. I’ve also had several that took advantage of the online corporate training and experience around them to become very talented design engineers by graduation. Incompetent management might be happy hiring junior engineers for peanuts who can’t contribute much, but most employers and staff want grads fully capable day 1 and are willing to pay for their efforts.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

In my second job, this one with a major EPC firm, it was clear that new hire graduates from the "RIGHT" schools had easier access to employment and a higher starting salary. If they stayed with that firm, and were good at their job, they were more apt to be promoted. But this was 50 years ago.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Not much different than large law firms hiring ONLY from Harvard Law.

But, not all companies are like that; we tend to hire local, mostly CSULB or CSUF. But, I think that's possibly because we're too cheap to hire up; of course, we probably expect that high flyers will get bored and leave, so that's always a piece of the equation. I personally tend to be biased against anyone changing jobs too often.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote (OHIOMatt)

My wife and I have tried to live our lives as examples of what delayed gratification looks like. My oldest daughter has embraced these principles. She works harder than any kid I know. She has tremendous intellectual curiosity, and she has a desire to succeed. She plays sports and is a great team mate and friend, but she refuses to engage in activities that would jeopardize her academic standing.
I think this is a pretty accurate description of my family dynamic. My step-daughter had to choose between multiple sports she was really good at and enjoyed (volleyball, basketball, and softball). Despite being 5-foot nothing, she is a beast on the court, and very aggressive/fast (the same applies to her studies). In the end, softball won out... she has been told by multiple coaches she could make it in Div I with some practice, we nudged her towards Div II/III schools so she could have time for studies, knowing she would not be the type to try to play professionally (in the end she wants to manage a team, not play on it). She has also mentioned possibly going for her law degree after her Sports Management degree is in the bag. She is highly driven and ultra-competitive, even more so than her mother.

Because of that drive, I have had zero second thoughts on purchasing her a new vehicle, paying for her schooling, etc. I know she appreciates it, and she will walk away at graduation debt free. Of course, I'm quite happy she decided on a school that was ~$35k/yr rather than some of her options that were ~$85k/yr wink

Summer internships are still a big thing in my field... the company I work for brings in ~15/yr, just for the summer months, and many receive an offer. I cannot imagine, however, going to school full-time while trying to work similar hours at a job. I did full-time school and work while studying towards my Masters, and I do NOT recommend it to anyone who doesn't have to. I view nothing wrong with a student being a student and only that, but they should be doing SOMETHING at all times (if you're not in school for a semester, you should be working), which is why I prefer to see summer internships on a resume.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

2014 BS grad. In my opinion, there is too much fixation on the sticker price of private schools. For people of meager to modest means, financial aid is substantial for schools with decent endowments. I attended a "prestigious" school with a current tuition sticker price in the 50k range, at a price below in_state tuition at StateU. I am very happy with the quality of education I received and based on the many stories I have heard about the lack of funding for undergrad lab supplies, and excessive use of underprepared TAs for lectures at StateU, I think the overall decision was a slam dunk in my particular situation.

I agree with other posters that internships are really the golden ticket for engineering jobs upon graduation. They were used as try-outs for the big leagues at my first employer.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Interesting thread, I went to a small private school in Florida for by BS in Civil. This was the early/mid 90's and most classes were taught by tenured professors. The advantage to small school was the small class sizes and strong relationships developed with classmates and professors. The downside was very little recruiting at the school by large employers. Out of my graduating class of 25 or so in Civil I was one of the few (maybe only) person with a job before graduation. In my case the job was with a major firm in offshore engineering where I had interned with one of their government contracting units. I think it also helped I was a veteran so older and more experienced in dealing with people than my peers. Plus when I went to interview in Houston the department head was also a veteran, albeit a former officer in the Turkish army.

I would second (maybe third) is to look at the job placement history when comparing schools. Larger more prestigious schools seem to have a national presence in recruiting where as smaller regional schools are more regional.

I am in Ohio as well and most engineers I meet in my area (Cincinnati) all went to UC.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote:

I have had zero second thoughts on purchasing her a new vehicle, paying for her schooling, etc. I know she appreciates it, and she will walk away at graduation debt free. Of course, I'm quite happy she decided on a school that was ~$35k/yr...

So long as parents' can afford to pay cash, I don't take issue with anybody spending their own money on their kid. The part that has bitten a significant portion of millennials in the ass however is that their parents either chose not to pay cash up front or had a change of fortune and could not afford to pay down the loan by graduation, leaving the student with a big debt on their credit report and thus largely unemployable at graduation. Probably the worst bit of parental advice since "any degree is better than no degree" is when parents suggest that >$50k debt at graduation is no big deal.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Eh, its just another luxury, and the practical usefulness of luxuries will always be questioned but not the enjoyment of them. An overpriced degree that's used is still more practical than a cheap degree that's not. As moltenmetal and others remind us occasionally, there are many engineering grads who never become engineers, so even the jokes about the usefulness of art degrees vs engineering degrees do have their holes as some art majors do earn decent incomes from art. To each their own.

Personally, I dont believe adding $100k to the cost of most folks' degrees would ever be recoverable in income in the first few years of a career when folks might actually care where you went to school, but if the kid's dream is to go Ivy and they really understand the monetary tradeoffs then so be it. The only issue I take is when clueless parents or faculty provide lousy guidance based on yesteryear rather than pushing the kid to determine the reality of today. My first semester of college at a tiny StateU campus, both Engineering 101 and Business 101 required students to write various reports/business plans for the next few years of their life so they learned about various niches' income potential, the cost/benefit/usefulness of their degree, and how the hiring process actually worked. Probably bc it would cost some programs their students, that bit of education is somewhat rare today and I have known many who took for granted the income potential and difficulty of landing a well-paid position in their field. My personal favorites are when students do something which is a major disqualifier at most employers (drugs, crime, big debt, etc) or simply embarrassing like being inappropriately dressed for interviews. The bottom line I see today is that once a kid goes to college they start being judged as an adult by the rest of the world, regardless if parents or local faculty choose to treat them as such.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

This is why I do not understand the huge political push to reward incompetence by forgiving massive student loans. It just punishes the people who made better choices or worse worked harder.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

2
In my personal opinion, when it comes to engineering, ABET has levelled the playing field somewhat. Obviously it is in the nation's best interest to have all engineering graduates up to a certain level of knowledge when they graduate, for safety reasons.. Hence, ABET accreditation. NO matter where you go, as long as ABET has signed off, you can guarantee you will be taught some minimum standard. Look at the curricula for a BS at any state school and then look at the same degree curricula at MIT. They are virtually identical.

Now, you could argue that a "prestigious" school will have more seasoned, better professors, better labs, etc. But I'm not actually sure that is true all the time. I have seen a lot of open courseware lectures at some top schools and some of those professors are awful.

Another thing I think people ignore is that for engineering undergraduates, you will likely spend 95-100 percent of your time working. At least for me, so many credits were required just to graduate that I never had less than 18 in a semester, usually over 20. You have to look at where the supposed advantages are and if you will even be able to make use of them if your normal schedule is so jam-packed you can't do anything.

I got into a well ranked school in MA and they offered me a ~30k grant. Even after that, it was still more expensive that my in-state school, which I opted for. Never regretted it.

I have met many engineers from "prestigious" schools who weren't the brightest bulbs on the tree to be honest.

Remember, it is more about the student / engineer than the school.

For undergrad I would prioritize cost. Save your selection of prestigious schools for a graduate degree if you want that. It means more in that case because schools have more specialization.

If you can't go to a school without coming away >20k in debt, time to look elsewhere.

Keep em' Flying
//Fight Corrosion!

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote (ProEpro)

It just punishes the people who made better choices or worse worked harder.

In what way? What, exactly, is being taken from the people who made "better" choices?

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote:

In what way?

A loan represents some present value, and forgiving the loan erases that present value, so if the loan is a government backed loan, the government pays off the loan to the lender, and taxpayers foot that bill. If it's a purely private loan, the lender declares it as a bad loan and reports it as a loss on their taxes, assuming it doesn't bankrupt them outright. That loss represents a loss in tax revenue, which the taxpayers eventually foot the bill somewhere, and/or the shareholders of the lender get less value for their shares or gets their shares erased in the case of bankruptcy, etc., etc., etc. Furthermore, that erased PV means the lender has less money to lend for other people who could borrowed and repaid on time.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Some things that may be true:

1. All things equal, GPA matters more than school. A 4.0 from StateU looks better than a 3.5 from PrestigiousU.

2. A quality co-op rotation or internship is much more valuable than a degree from PrestigiousU by itself.

3. Managers like hiring from schools at their level. StateU managers will find PrestigiousU grads think they know too much and want a higher salary, compared to another StateU grad, and vice versa.

4. On average smarter, harder working kids tend to get into better Universities. So, on average, those kids end up becoming smarter, harder working college students. They, in turn, become smarter harder working engineers, on average.

I have yet to meet an engineer from StateU that thought they would have had a better career if they went to PrestigiousU. Additionally, I have yet to meet an engineer from PrestigiousU that did not claim that it had a major impact on their career trajectory, though I cannot refute SLTA's point above.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

IRStuff--swing and a miss. Actually two misses with one swing. Quite an accomplishment

You're describing harm to parties other than the ones I asked about.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Those that made "better" choices are taxpayers.

I paid off my loans, am a taxpayer, own some stock, so I'm definitely going to pay somewhere for any loan forgiveness or defaults.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Student Loan forgiveness will cost every taxpayer more, whether in increased tax revenue or in budget cuts to other programs. This is the same as any other federal program, with the glaring exception that it does not benefit the working class at large, and selectively benefits middle-class workers who may have been capable of paying them off eventually.

A refundable tax credit up to $10,000 for absolutely anyone that has ever taken out a loan might make more sense than just forgiving loans that are on the books, but you are still leaving out those who chose not to bear the expense of going to college. Many people enter the workforce right after high school and/or go to a trade school or community college making a conscious choice not to go into debt for a college education. Imagine how many would have attended college instead if they knew their loans would be forgiven.

For the record, federally backed student loan forgiveness exists today in the form of income-based repayment. If you make honest payments on your loans for 25 years (I think) the rest of your loans evaporate.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Sounds like trickle-down economics only works when giving money to people who already have it.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I paid off my loans (and my wife's). It would be nice to have that money back.

I'm just not going to go into crybaby tantrum mode when examining whether it is beneficial to the country to pursue student loan forgiveness.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Its likely difficult to quantify, but I wonder how "better" schools' staff experience in industry compares to their peers at "lesser" schools. Anecdotally, I would suspect that those teaching at "better" schools' would have more years as full-time academics and less full-time working experience in industry than their "lesser" peers. Given that the purpose of education is to prepare students for careers which generally dont involve working in education, an argument could be made that more industry experience ~= better teachers. Interestingly enough, modern K-12 and collegiate education philosophies both argue the opposite but for different reasons, that real-world experience is irrelevant vs coursework in education (K-12) or vs coursework in your subject area (collegiate). In either case, its interesting to note that our education system seems bent on maintaining a gap between academia and industry rather than bridging it to prepare students for reality.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I paid off my school loan. We also paid for son #2's BS degree (son #1 joined the Army and #3 learned on-the-job with his employers paying for his outside classes). Now we're paying for one of our granddaughter's college, at least the first couple of years.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

universities reward those that bring in the most grant money for resarch or endowment money. they dont get rewarded for their ability to teach. the research is conducted by masters or PhD candidates along with undergrad assistants and they all get some direct benefit from the experience. but for the Joe Average student, no benefit at all. some PhD's go into industry, most stay at the university. by and large, very few practicing engineers quit their industry jobs and decide to teach. over the last 35 years, I know of only one engineer that went back to a university to teach after working in industry. that lasted for about two years and he is right back again working in industry.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Quote (cvg)

universities reward those that bring in the most grant money for research or endowment money. they dont get rewarded for their ability to teach.

Unfortunately this is true and it is part of a trend away from professors with real-world industry experience I'm afraid.

During my time at my alma-mater, the ME program had a solid core of about 5-6 professors who had been there for at least 20 years. Many were in industry at some point, and several still working actively as industry consultants.

One of our professors specialized in solar energy and thermal efficiency and was a major industry consultant. Another (my thermo and heat transfer prof.) had several papers published onthe NASA NTRS written for industry. My dynamics and thermo 1 professor excitedly told us about his time in industry, mainly at Lycoming.

Sadly, in the years after I graduated, many of these profs retired. Today the faculty has almost no full Professors. Instead the staff is filled with "lecturers", assistant profs, and "associate professors" who started in graduate program. They are merely an extension (and still part of) graduate research, lecturing on the side. This is just a tactic by the university to pack the department with "researchers" to bring in money.

The process started when I was there, and those lecturers always had awful reviews. I strategically avoided them and stuck with the old-timers when I had a choice. But I think that is no longer an option.

Keep em' Flying
//Fight Corrosion!

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I never understood why U's reward research. As someone who ran a Fortune 50's grant program I can say with confidence that the same schools would've received grants every year had they put a Phd or the school's janitor in front of us. Ultimately, the purpose of the program wasn't that we were hoping a school with a tiny lab, little funding, and a few engineers & students with rudimentary knowledge could create amazing new technology in a few months that we couldn't in years given our dedicated $1B+ research campus and plethora of expertise, we just wanted tax write-offs. Usually the report-outs on university "research" were poorly attended as the conclusions drawn were already common knowledge. I would actually wager that U's would get more grant money if they requested it as rewarding good teachers and directly improving the quality of students' graduating as the argument could then be made that is directly benefitting the company.

Quote:

I'm just not going to go into crybaby tantrum mode when examining whether it is beneficial to the country to pursue student loan forgiveness.

The problem with that statement is that its difficult to take any argument for loan forgiveness seriously. Aside from the mentioned an unmentioned ways of earning loan forgiveness and/or free education stateside, the entire argument is based upon a rather ridiculous premise - that a college education is necessary and beyond the financial means of most. Last I checked ~70% of folks stateside had attended college, ~30% had graduated college, and of those who graduated only ~50% actually used their degree. That would imply that its NOT beyond the means of most and most do NOT find it necessary.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Seems to me that depends A LOT on both the university and its research faculty. CRISPR was invented at UC Berkeley. The Moderna vaccine, and Pfizer's, has its roots in mRNA research done at Harvard.

One reason many of the companies I've worded for have given up basic research is that probability of success is 10%, if you are really, really lucky.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

so at 10% success rate, it really makes sense to let somebody else do the research and get a nice tax write-off at the same time

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I think that's been the trend for many companies; they concentrate on medium-term payoff projects, where the success rate is more like 30% to 50%. Moreover, since grad students are "cheap" labor, they gat a better cost/hr of potentially useful work, if it comes to fruition, and if they fail, the cost invested might only be about 50% of what they might have spent internally.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

>4. On average smarter, harder working kids tend to get into better Universities. So, on average, those kids end up becoming smarter, harder working college students. They, in turn, become smarter harder working engineers, on average.

At the university I went to, they liked to show a scatter plot chart that showed that their zero correlation between high school grades and university grades - it was a scatter plot, and hard work in high school seemed to have no relevance to university success. Likewise, they shared that university GPA seemed to have little correlation to career success, and the engineers that went on to become CEO's that donated money that paid for large portions of the engineering buildings and research graduated with atrocious GPA's like 2.0.

I'm not sure it's even true on average and other than at small companies with less than ten engineers it appears that networking, social skills, and the ability to maintain the facade of working hard via chargeability metrics (regardless of whether you actually do so) is more important for success than GPA or going to Harvard.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

Not a lawyer and prefer Hampton to the Holiday Inn, but there's a ton of legal-sleaze...err...legal-eze that precludes corporate funded academic research from benefitting donating companies. IP typically becomes property of either the school or goes into the public domain, at least to get a write-off and avoid accusations of govt impropriety. IOW the old "no free lunch" from which only the academics benefit.

JMO but I couldn't imagine working for, much less investing in any OEM without a dedicated research dept. Even many contract design firms have their own nowadays to develop IP to sell. The statistics around academic research today are abysmal and any company depending on them for future growth is well-deserving of any resulting bankruptcy IMHO. Exceptions obviously apply for the occasional novel idea, but academia only accounts for ~1% of patents annually, hence the common Bayh-Dole defense that academia has little impact on industry. Also not sure how anyone defines success, but the corporate research teams I've been on have all been narrowly focused on technology development for near-term use and consistently had massive ROI. We're working engineers with corporate funds and a ton of oversight, not unsupervised academics blowing donated money chasing endless rabbit holes. Our job was to thoroughly benchmark the capability and cost of technology, and get it to ~70% maturity for future use. If the product development folks weren't likely to have it in production in 5-8 years then we quickly moved on to something they would. Several former colleagues actually went over to academia specifically to chase a rabbit hole we had given up on, be able to freely publish work which was rarely allowed, and work a relaxed schedule.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

I think that's a slightly dubious comparison. The CRISPR patent started a chain of inventions that other companies made from using CRISPR. Likewise is true of some bleeding edge quantum mechanical properties discovered by a potential Nobel Prize winner that we are exploiting; he gets the Prize, and we, using his invention, have invented 3 or 4 things of our own.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

The same thing happens in private industry with a small percentage of new patents/technologies spawning new businesses and industries. Personally I’d much rather have 1% of a large number than 1% of a small number.

RE: Are there true advantages in degrees from prestigious universities?

What you know is the most important in the long run.
Who you know is important if you dont know as much as you should or the company expects.
What you say you know or who you say you know is important if you don't know anything or anyone.
If you dont know anything or anyone and you can't talk the talk, then going to the "best" school can't hurt.

Regards
Ashtree
"Any water can be made potable if you filter it through enough money"

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