Why It Doesn't *Really* Matter Where You Go To College

by Kiersten Hickman

For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.

Choosing the *perfect* college for you can be an incredibly anxiety-inducing process. I know it may seem like your entire future hangs in the balance as you try to pick out the right school — trust me, I've been there too. But, my friends, I come with good news: where you go to college doesn’t matter — at least, not when it comes time to find an actual job.

Hear me out. Obviously where you go to school will have some impact on you; the friends you make and the experiences you have unique to your school's campus will stay with you for years to come. But as far as bolstering your resume later in life goes, there are so many other things that are going to matter more than the name of the university you attended. Sure, there is a certain level of prestige associated with attending big name schools, but more often than not, that's not what's going to set you apart from other people applying to the same job as you.

For those of you who are thinking about colleges or are already applying to schools, my advice is to relax. When it comes to your job search, here are all the things that are more important than what college you went to.

There is a lot to keep in mind while you're looking for schools, but this is a big one. Students spend time in a classroom with a professor for multiple hours a week — and this professor can turn into a huge job connection in the future. Smaller, lesser-known schools can often bring in huge talent, and professors at these schools often have more time to spend with students one-on-one than professors who are lecturing at larger, well-known schools. Make sure to pay close attention to faculty as you're figuring out a college for you. Where have they worked? Who do they know? If someone's career trajectory lines up with what you're trying to accomplish, that could be more helpful to you in the long-run than going to a different school with more prestige.

When looking for colleges, picking out a big-name school is less important than finding a program that is best suited toward your needs and interests, and will provide you with the most thorough, in-depth education you can get in your particular field of study. After all, that's why you're at college in the first place, right? Ultimately, having the name of the university you attended plastered on your resume isn't going to matter to employers as much as the skills you've mastered.

At the end of the day, experience is what employers want to see most. They want to see dedication (did you actually graduate?), skill (did you get internships?), and proof of your work (do you have a portfolio?). As I was job hunting out of college, employers never asked me about my school, or why I didn’t go to a prestigious university. Instead, they asked me about my work, and why I’m fit for the job. Go somewhere that will allow you to get experience in the field you are studying.

Professors are certainly people to network with, but you’re going to want to expand past your university. With internships and other opportunities, you will get the chance to know people within your field that you can connect with and meet others through. I promise, once you graduate, those connections are going to be a key part of your job search — even more so than where you graduated from college.

Where you went to school will not save you from the fact that you still have to job hunt like everyone else — and I promise, it’s going to be hard. You know what they are going to look for when you start interviewing? Experience. I keep saying it, but it’s true. Get the experience, be good at what you do, and forget the title.

Mark Zuckerberg was at Harvard... but you know who wasn’t? Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz (Northern Michigan University), Apple CEO Tim Cook (Auburn University), and CEO of Walgreens Doug McMillon (University of Arkansas).

Obviously, where you go to school is important — but it's not the most important thing employers are looking for at the end of the day. Go ahead and include it on your resume, but make sure to play up your other accomplishments, too. They're likely going to matter more, anyway.