The Top Schools In The Nation Are All Party Schools!

What do Penn State, Texas A&M, University of Illinois, Purdue, and Arizona State University have in common?  They are considered the Top 5 best schools in the nation according to recruiters!  Wall Street Journal has this unique ranking system where they essentially ask corporate recruiters to rank their best schools.

I’ve seen a lot of college surveys before, and not once have I ever seen any of these schools in the Top 5, let alone in the top 10.  Let’s be honest, for the same cost, would you go to one of these schools over Harvard, Yale, Penn, MIT, Michigan, or Berkeley?  Most would say “probably not,” so what gives?

Let’s have a look at why recruiters are so excited about these schools.

* Size. The average student population of the top 5 schools is around 28,000.  This means that out of a class size of 7,000, there’s a higher chance of finding someone they like.

* Sports. The top 5 schools all have big time basketball and football programs.  Americans are obsessed with sports, which is why every single one of you should also play and at least follow sports.

* Public. All five schools are public schools.  We are in a period where it’s all about the middle class and not standing out.  Anything private, that costs more than the average annual income of an American isn’t going to fly.

* Competition. It’s much easier getting into these top 5 schools with an average acceptance rate of ~50% vs. 15% for the traditionally accepted top schools.  As a result, there’s a less “the world owes me” type attitude as students are more humble and eager to please their perspective employers.

* Representation. Being a recruiter isn’t exactly the hardest job in the world to land.  As a result, there is a high likelihood that most of the recruiters come from the very schools they have voted to the top!  We all want to take care of our own, and recruiters are no different.

CONCLUSION

Surveys are great because they can be manipulated to suit the surveyor’s beliefs.  Everybody looks out for their own, and the Wall Street Journal is no different.  Look into the management of the WSJ and I’m sure you’ll find one of them who is an alumni of their Top 5.

Penn State, Texas A&M, University of Illinois, Purdue, and Arizona State University are all fine schools.  They just aren’t the top schools the WSJ believes them to be, otherwise they’d have the most Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, Nobel Laureates, endowments, and so forth.  Frankly, the WSJ might as well rank colleges by their proximity to the Pacific Ocean!  Now that would be a great survey!

Recommendation:

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Getting by the recruiter is the ultimate goal, so shouldn’t this ranking system be perfectly legitimate?

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. David M says

    IF I got in, I would go to Harvard, Brown, Yale, etc. However, to be honest, I applied to Harvard and was rejected.

    I think being able to say/put on a resume that you went to Harvard, Brown, Yale, etc, is priceless. It can open doors that will not open other ways. It gives credability that you may or may not deserve.

    I worked for a Big 8 public accounting firm right out of college (yes I’m dating myself as they are now the final 4 and were last the big 8 in 1989). If I mention I worked for a big 8, I automatically have credability that I would not have, had I not worked for one of these firms.

    I think hiring people like to see Ivy league schools and well known company names because if things do not work out, they can just say, “well the person went to … or worked for …”

  2. says

    I’m surprised that those are the top 5 schools. With that being said, some people go to college for the experience. They already know that they want to be entrepreneurs after college. College is simply a time where they meet people, enjoy life, and try to grow their business.

    What advice would you give to these people?

  3. says

    It is funny how the slumping economy put these schools into the top 5. (Recruiters going to bigger schools over smaller, possibly more prestigious schools because it is a bigger bank for the buck. Costs a lot less to hire your people at one school then traveling all over to a bunch of schools.)

    I know tons of people that did not go to Ivy league schools and they are incredibly successful because of the person they are. I would rather hire someone that made the most of their public education than someone that just did the bare minimum at an Ivy League. I am sure there are plenty of very good candidates at all of these schools, so this strategy may not be that bad!

    • says

      It is all a matter of perspective, you’re right.

      It’s not so much the Ivy Schools… but frankly so many other schools that are perceived much better than these top 5 i.e. MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech, Virginia etc.

      Recruiter’s market, and they are partying it up!

  4. jumbi says

    Recruiting for what exactly? My niece attends London Sch. of Econ. and there are always recruiters on the tiny campus. The big 4 accounting firms, plus the big name banks.
    No, absolutely would not select on those those 5 over the big names. In fact, I would recommend if you are an out of state student you do not pay large sums to attend those top five.

    • says

      Recruiting for everything, and also perhaps student who like to have a great time?

      Perhaps getting a 4.0 at one of these schools is TOUGHER b/c there are so many more distractions and less Type A gung ho people?

  5. says

    While I didn’t go in the States, I have studied for 6 months in a private university in France and it was the same thing. Since most people who can afford to go to these school are talented and rich, you get the craziest parties ever :-).

    Money brings a lot of good things… and bad things at the same time ;-). Mind you, I really liked partying but I didn’t feel like I was learning much during this session. It seems like you are “buying” your diploma.

      • says

        I don’t know much about U Brit but McGill is a great school. It is one of the best University in Canada. Mind you, if you are looking for a place to party, all University in Montreal (there are 4) are all Universities of Party ;-)

        Best place for Party: McGill and HEC Montreal (it’s the administration/finance branch of the Montreal’s University).

  6. says

    I went to Rutgers (also on the list) and paid about 1/4-1/5 what many of my colleagues did who went to Princeton, MIT, Harvard and other very expensive schools. We make roughly the same and have advanced at the same rate, even after 10-12 years. In the end, who had the better ROI?

      • says

        Well, we all know the rule about not telling people what you make. But it’s pretty easy to deduce where you stand in contrast to others you started with. For one, when you’re rated top 10-20% each year, statistically, there’s only so many of your peers that were ranked higher. Next, promotions are pretty telling. It’s all merit, not pedigree where I’m at. I’m sure it varies by company, but I’ve gotta say, some of the best and some of the worst I’ve worked with have come from both small no-name colleges, as well as top Ivy League schools.

        • says

          Income is one thing though, and wealth is another though.

          I really do believe the wealthy have a much more sophisticated way of NOT showing their wealth. They make it seem like you are like them, by them being like you in display. But secretely, they have A LOT more money than you would think.

          Remember, $200,000+ = persecution by the gov’t.

  7. says

    You get out what you put in to your college education; in the end, it might be nice to put a prestigious university name on your resume, but is it all that important if it sinks you into debt? Now, if I had been offered a full ride to Princeton or Harvard, I would have definitely taken it. But I wouldn’t have wanted to borrow tens of thousands of dollars just to say I went to Harvard. I went to a piddly state university (decent, but unknown), so maybe I don’t completely understand the value of saying I went to an Ivy League.

    • says

      Yeah, tough to know if you didn’t go. Debt is seriously a killer, tough to say. However, people make a lot of money over their lifetimes. The debt after a while will look like nothing.

      • says

        Debt will indeed be nothing after decades but it wears on you for a LONG TIME. I have friends who are only 5 figures in debt after grad school (modest in today’s standards) but even though they are making 6 figures, it’s much harder for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel when others who got to live life debt free after college start to buying their first homes.

        It’s not in the best of our interests, but like it or not we all compare ourselves to people who seem to have it better than us :)

  8. says

    For recruiters, going to a large school with a good program is perfect.

    For students, they can get better jobs by attending a better school.

    I don’t think any of this is surpising.

    Students shouldn’t want to go to a school just because of the rankings because they’ll be up against a lot more competition when it comes to jobs. I went to Maryland, another large school with solid programs, and every job fair was completely full of long lines. It wasn’t fun for me and my chances were small because of everyone else.

    For recruiters it was a dream because they could pick whatever they wanted from the large crowd.

    If anything, i think these rankings are a reason NOT to attend one of these schools.

    • says

      I like the Terps! Doesn’t sound like fun at all, but tell me… how did you end up finding your job then? Was it not through the job fair?

      What about attending Johns Hopkins instead of UMD? Would you have done better you think?

      • says

        Not positive…either career fair or through the UMD career website. I got contacted afterward, I think I had specific skills they were looking for.

        And I know many UMD grads who didn’t have the luck I did. Better schools = better jobs straight up.

        They definitely helped, no doubt, but I think a school like JHU would have put me in a better position (though I wouldn’t have had as much fun at the sporting events!).

        • says

          I enjoyed the old days with Joe Smith and Steve Francis. UMD was awesome!

          That’s what I’m talking about.. sports! Recruiters and students love sports. It’s part of the reason why these schools are Tops according to the WSJ.

      • says

        I agree, was a blast! Great parties, quality education, and one of the coolest locations in the country with tons of hiking, biking, and good sports teams. Plus you got a small school feel even though there were 30k students (you run into people you know everywhere you go, rather than getting lost in the mix at like say Penn State).

        Studied Accounting and MIS.

  9. says

    They may all be good schools but there is no way that these schools should be higher ranked than any Ivy League institution. Employers are much more impressed by a degree from Harvard or Brown than one from ASU. I think that the sports component plays a large part. The top 5 schools in the survey offer tons of socializing activities through sporting events and parties.

  10. says

    I went to one of those schools. The cost-to-quality ratio is great compared to some of the higher-level schools. That being said, for the exact same cost, if given the opportunity, I’d have gone to MIT.

    As we all know, the educational cost in the United States is completely out of control.

    One thing to note is that just because a school is known as being excellent doesn’t mean that every program in that school is equal. For instance, the school I went to is known for having a great engineering college. Of course it’s not MIT or Penn, but it actually rates better than some Ivy League engineering programs on some legitimate metrics like research quality, student recruitment to prominent jobs, activities for engineers, and so forth. That’s because some of the Ivy League schools put less emphasis on their engineering programs while my school put quite a bit of emphasis on it, and due to its larger size could also perform some of the largest scientific research around.

    • says

      An excellent point and something very true. Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon rock most other school engineering programs, if that’s what you’re after.

      That said, why be an engineer when you can rule the world? :)

  11. Charlie says

    Wow I do not agree with their list. I think your representation point & alums at WSJ is the likely explanation. If I’m looking at a party school resume it better have good grades to get in the call back pile. Not to say there aren’t any good students at Arizona, but the AZ candidates I’ve seen didn’t make the cut. I think experience outside of college is the most important part of a resume though so I always look at that first.

  12. says

    Quite a bit different than the small private school I went to that was actually smaller than my high school. Much different than a life at ASU or the like. Don’t know if I’m buying an ASU grad is more desirable than a Harvard grad, that is unless they are applying for a job at a strip club.

  13. Mike Hunt says

    I went to Johns Hopkins Undergraduate and got a Masters at University of Virginia. Both degrees were in Engineering.

    I think the schools I went to didn’t hurt, especially when getting my first job out of school, but I never got hired because of my education. Hopkins & UVA are not in the same league as the Ivy League although they are not bad schools.

    Now that I am looking for other jobs back in the USA while working as a CEO for a small / medium company in Asia, I don’t think my degrees or my career experience are worth much in landing a job…

    -Mike

    • says

      Both very honorable schools! If I paid instate tuition, i’d rather go to UVA over any private school frankly.. except perhaps Harvard.

      Why are you looking for other jobs back in the USA? Sounds like you have a cushy job in Asia!

  14. Sparky says

    Man, not much love in the comments on my alma mater – Arizona State. It was the best 6 years of my life! Man did I party!

    All seriousness, I graduated ASU w/ decent grades, a decent major (finance), and most importantly- no debt!

    I also played 4 years of rugby, was in a killer fraternity, and had the time of my life ( ASU COEDS are notoriously HOT)!

    I have also managed to do ok after school.

    I make around $200k. Live in Newport Beach, CA. And still know how to have a great time (this is a requirement to graduate)!

    Not bad ROI!

    • says

      6 years???? Sweeeet! I would have done 5 yrs if I could go back again instead of 3.5-4 bc college was so fun!

      Super seniors rock! 200k is great man. Right at te maximum income level of happiness! What industry are you in?

  15. Tom says

    I went to UChicago where the graduating class was ~900. A poll with a recruiter bias would reasonably put these larger student body schools at the top–more candidates to choose from. It’s like polling 1000 obese people what their favorite sushi restaurant is and ending up getting Todai ranked at the top instead of a small, yet pricey, but delicious place like Matsuhisu. The quantity and quality of the restaurants’ fish would be, I imagine, similar to those of the schools’ students. And yes, I had sushi for dinner.

  16. says

    Sam, I agree that the survey was biased, but I don’t know about student preferences. For example, my wife turned down both Harvard and Stanford in favor of a lesser prestige school. It had nothing to do with finances. Instead, it was about the environment, career interests, and a personality fit.

  17. craig gonzales says

    Texas A&M sends the most grads into the armed forces as officers and the CIA as entry-levels than any other university.

    Academic ability does not determine professional ability… use Enron as a case study.

    CG

      • craig gonzales says

        More students go to A&M. A&M has the largest ROTC program in the nation. Students join the program, spend 4 years wearing their khaki and shit, and then get school mostly paid for. Military mentality is drilled into them the entire time.

        They follow orders, they have respect, they have engineering mindsets. Perfect personality type to be a loyal analyst and graduate of officer candidate school.

        CG

        DC types do go to those places, but many DC types go to graduate school, do other government work, or work in boston/new york as finance and consultant. [smarter people tend to stay away from war]

  18. says

    I hate to say it, but I don’t think I could have afford to go to a place like Harvard. It would be a great for bragging rights and confidence! But the cheap state university that I went to did the job. I’d say I still received an excellent eduction, and it was a tough program (dropout and fail rate for some classes was over 80%)…

    If I could have afforded it, and if I were accepted, I would have gone to an Ivy League college though…

  19. says

    I will just say that I went to a big nerd school: Washington University in St. Louis.

    When I took a road trip to Mizzou for a football game, I saw more hot girls in the first five minutes on campus there than I saw in my years at Wash U. Public schools have their advantages. :)

      • says

        Yep, it’s a private nerd school. Lot’s of Pre-Med undergrads because of the great Med School Reputation (right behind Harvard and Johns Hopkins).

        I got my engineering degree there. You can imagine the lack of women in those classes.

  20. Brad says

    I attended Washington State, which has a big reputation as a party school. What found was that the reason it’s such a party school, it’s isolation from any urban cities, is the same reason the academics were great. When there’s nothing else you can do, you either party or study.

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