4.       Quality

There are more good or top colleges and universities than there are selective colleges and universities.  The schools that are highly selective change over time, but whether or not they are good doesn’t necessarily change as rapidly over time.  For instance, the University of Chicago is highly selective now.  While it has not always been highly selective over the past few decades, it has consistently been one of the most rigorous postsecondary institutions in the U.S. 

 

Sometimes the perception of prestige is just that, a perception.  The most selective postsecondary institutions are not necessarily the most rigorous.  Some schools are difficult to be admitted to, but easy to graduate from.  Others admit students mostly based on their ability to graduate and can be more rigorous than selective colleges and universities.

 

Students should begin with the end in mind.  At some point, prospective employers will ask why the student attended a given postsecondary institution.  While an answer such as “it was the best school my family could afford” would be viewed as acceptable, an answer such as “because my family thought it was prestigious” might not go over well.  Prospective employers will also have a strong interest in what a student did in college.  Students who are good at getting into things, but then do not contribute, may be viewed poorly by a prospective employer.