You really can't buy happiness, at least not with a fancy diploma. According to a new Gallup poll, it doesn't matter so much where you went to college as it does what you did while you were there.
The survey asked 30,000 recent college grads which school they attended, their level of involvement while there, and their current level of happiness in their jobs and overall well-being. Prospective Ivy Leaguers take note: Just as many public school grads as private school grads reported being engaged at work, meaning they are deeply involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their job. Similarly just as many public school grads as private school grads say they are thriving—which Gallup defines as strong, consistent, and progressing—in all areas of their well-being.
For example, grads were two times more likely to report thriving in life if they had at least one college professor whom they felt mentored them, cared about them, and made them excited to learn. They were two and a half times more likely to be happy in their current job if they had done an internship, participated in an extended project, and were involved in extracurricular activities while in school. Whether their chosen school was high-ranked or low-ranked, selective or non-selective, public or private, mattered not at all.
Additionally the researchers found that how much money a person makes after graduation depends almost entirely on their major and not at which school that major was studied. (Good news for parents and students trying to figure out how to pay for college!)
As tuition has increased 3 percent every year for the past decade, grant money has dropped 10 percent, making it even more important that students make a practical choice rather than relying on emotion or tradition. Brandon Busteed, who leads Gallup's education work, sums it up, saying, “If you can go to Podunk U debt free versus Harvard for $100,000, go to Podunk. And concentrate on what you do when you get there.” Consider the myth that a Harvard degree will pay for itself to be busted!