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Does It Really Matter Where I Go?


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This may seem like a weird post, but I'll try to explain myself as best as I can. First off, I do care about the quality of the program I attend. I do want to learn as much as I can. However, my question pertains to getting jobs only. I am currently a state employee and administrative manager. I manage the project and all the things that come with it-- people, contracts, federal/state grants, etc. I'm a mid-manager essentially. I'm happy with my job and the level of my job. I don't really want any more responsibility, clout, money, etc.

I want to earn an MPA to learn, gain more job security, and be a bit more competitive in the job market. I do not want to be a high-level government employee, I do not want to work in policy, nor do I want to work in the federal government. Basically I want to keep doing what I'm doing with a bit more knowledge and credentials. Also I work with Ph.D.s all day long and I would feel better if I had more than a BA, which is probably insecure and ridiculous, but I'm being honest. I know that in the environment I work a masters from any decent institution would be sufficient. So, at the end of the day does it really matter what program I graduate from? I can see that many people on this board want to work in public policy or higher levels of government and therefore it makes sense that they attend a more competitive program, but does this really apply to me? Or am I missing something?

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As someone who kind of cherry picked his program to tread the line between prestige and affordability, I'd have to go with ... no. I agree with the above. I'd contend that there is functionally little difference in quality between most programs (not to say that there isn't one, but it's an issue of marginal value) and the greatest issue is one of name recognition/access to opportunities. If you're happy where you are - absolutely not. One should try to go for as little debt as possible anyway (as a general, but moderately bendable rule), and even more so for you. Best o' luck.

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Thanks everybody for your feedback. It is very helpful. I do care very much about the quality of the program I attend. However, I am trying my best to keep my ego in check and instead focus on what should really matter to me. Your insights have served as a good barometer. smile.gif

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Yeah, I completely agree with everyone else here. It's the same thing for people who choose to do MBA at night or part-time and continue in their current role, company and field versus those that choose to do it full-time and try to switch some combination of location, department or industry. The big name programs can be recruiting machines but if that's not one of your needs, the name on your degree means a lot less IMO.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'd echo everyone else that, no, it doesn't seem like it would really matter for you. I'd say you should probably try to go to the best program in your geographic region, though, because the networking opportunities will probably be helpful.

Are you interested in going part-time while you stay at your job?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes and No, mostly no... Most people realize that the quality of education you will receive at Harvard is the same that would be offered at State University X. Most employers know this, and therefore treat everyone equal in that regard. However, connections are what can be made from going to a certain college that can make Harvard better than State University X. For example, if you went to Michigan State University while another student attended Harvard, the Harvard grad would probably know the employer through different connections if the job was in Massachusetts. If this job were in Lansing, Michigan then probably the MSU grad would have made some connections through profs and alumni, making getting a job there a bit easier. However, in general the education is the same but it is the connections you make.... Therefore, your education is what you make of it....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Where is there evidence for the statement that most employers view a Ivy League graduate education as no better than whats offered at State Univerity X?

Yes and No, mostly no... Most people realize that the quality of education you will receive at Harvard is the same that would be offered at State University X. Most employers know this, and therefore treat everyone equal in that regard. However, connections are what can be made from going to a certain college that can make Harvard better than State University X. For example, if you went to Michigan State University while another student attended Harvard, the Harvard grad would probably know the employer through different connections if the job was in Massachusetts. If this job were in Lansing, Michigan then probably the MSU grad would have made some connections through profs and alumni, making getting a job there a bit easier. However, in general the education is the same but it is the connections you make.... Therefore, your education is what you make of it....

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Where is there evidence for the statement that most employers view a Ivy League graduate education as no better than whats offered at State Univerity X?

Through my experiences in a real world setting. Though this differs greatly in New England, or maybe even in other parts of the country, internship supervisors that I have had declared they have real reservations about hiring ivy league graduates. I had experience clerking with a judge, working for a NGO, and also working for a state agency. I specifically asked them about if it mattered where I went to graduate school and they all three stated they had reservations about hiring ivy leaguers. One of them (working for an NGO) stated that he noticed that many ivy league graduates he had interviewed in the preceding three year period were arrogant, and did not fit in with the "mood" of the office and organization. Therefore, I don't think statistics can back up anyone on this page, however experiences can.

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Through my experiences in a real world setting. Though this differs greatly in New England, or maybe even in other parts of the country, internship supervisors that I have had declared they have real reservations about hiring ivy league graduates. I had experience clerking with a judge, working for a NGO, and also working for a state agency. I specifically asked them about if it mattered where I went to graduate school and they all three stated they had reservations about hiring ivy leaguers. One of them (working for an NGO) stated that he noticed that many ivy league graduates he had interviewed in the preceding three year period were arrogant, and did not fit in with the "mood" of the office and organization. Therefore, I don't think statistics can back up anyone on this page, however experiences can.

So you met three supervisors who anecdotally said they were prejudging all "Ivy League" grads? Good on you...?

Of course there's the flip side, I'm certain, where someone will come back and say they know someone who burns all resumes from state school grads. Meh.

Go to the best school for you. The one that offers you the best education at the best price point. OP it's probably not worth you "breaking the bank" to attend a marquee school. Get a good balance of location, curriculum, and cost.

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So you met three supervisors who anecdotally said they were prejudging all "Ivy League" grads? Good on you...?

Of course there's the flip side, I'm certain, where someone will come back and say they know someone who burns all resumes from state school grads. Meh.

Go to the best school for you. The one that offers you the best education at the best price point. OP it's probably not worth you "breaking the bank" to attend a marquee school. Get a good balance of location, curriculum, and cost.

@Fadeindreams- Correct! I totally agree with that statement. What I was trying to say was that schools like Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown might look nice when it comes time to apply for jobs, but everyones needs are different. If Yale has the program, location, and price you are looking for then apply and see what happens. If a smaller state school is what you fancy, then it seems that ivy league schools such as Yale do not meet your criteria. In all, everyone has a different opinion about "what a good school is."

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