Does the Choice of a College Matter?
Does It Matter Where You Go to College?
The issue of professional self-determination is associated with a complex and difficult process. Professional experience covers the entire life of a person from the development of the professional intentions to the performance of work. The peak of this process or the turning point is the choice of profession. The time of the selection of a college coincides with the end of school. In the contemporary world, the choice of a higher educational institution plays an important role in the process of professional self-determination. Making this kind of choice is not easy as the market of educational services is very wide and varied. Currently, more and more commercial and public universities appear every year, while some of them disappear annually. At present, the choice of higher education institution and future profession plays an important role in the future of every person who is eager to achieve the highest position in their life.
The acquisition of a college degree is determined by the common desire of good employment and future career. In such a situation, it is likely that after graduation, a graduate will not be directly engaged in the work on the basis of the profession they have been studying at college. This situation requires a significant improvement of the system of vocational guidance not only in school but also in high school, which should include knowledge of students with the requirements of a particular profession and psychological testing in order to obtain a more complete picture of the individual inclinations to perform a particular work. However, in this case, it is important to establish whether the choice of college matters or not. Therefore, this article will prove that the choice of college and its location do not perform the primary role in the future career of a student. To support this idea, the article discusses such compounds of the question as psychological, economic, sociological, family, and Internet promotion.
The psychology of promotion of educational services is mainly determined by the dependence of the demand for educational services on the complex structural system of social, economic and psychological factors. The necessity or its absence in the choice of a college is grounded on the evaluation of educational services with regard to the two integral factors. The first one is the measures of demand for educational services and the relevance of the need for it. The second factor is the accessibility, possibility and reality of education through the use of the educational service that are significant to examine in order to learn whether they influence the choice of the college. The category of choice and demands of the college, according to numerous scholars, is interconnected with socio-psychological type of consumer as well as their individual and group characteristics.
The actual human need in the choice and accessibility of the educational services comprises the evaluation of the individual parameters such as the adequacy of preparation for admission, reasonable price, guaranteed support in their studies, territorial accessibility of the university, private correspondence to the college’s requirements, absence of interfering factors, the existence of cronyism, the ability to learn, awareness of the services available to the language of instruction, and others. However, each of these components does not focus on which college exactly should be chosen. In other words, all of these criteria are to be applied to applicants, regardless of the college. Hence, this is one of the proofs that the choice of college does not matter.
This subjective demand for services is estimated personally (i.e. psychologically) on the basis of such parameters as the optimal timing of training, the optimal form of autonomy in teaching, the ability to maintain an optimal lifestyle, the opportunity to combine study with work, the avoidance of unwanted problems, and the focus on personal development. Also, such aspects as a harmonious combination of different goals in life, opportunity to get the right degree and the desired level of skill, the opportunity to receive the same education as others, the relationship between theory and practice, and the compliance with education dream, among others. However, these factors are a standard set which can be applied while choosing any college.
Economic compounds can be both decisive and non-decisive in the process of a college choice. Under the new conditions, such additional requirements should be offered to ratings as increased objectivity in the reflection of the economic strengths and weaknesses of each university. The new economic trends in the rating evaluation of universities should be transformed from an aid of the educational process into its internal foundations needed. It is clear that global ratings may not be the sole criterion for students’ making a choice. In other words, even economically prosperous colleges do not provide the expected opportunities. Nevertheless, their ratings reflect part of formal indicators such as the proportion of foreign students and professors and largely affect the opinion of the academic community on national universities.
The involvement of colleges in the world educational space can be characterized by their economic position in the ranking of universities. In other words, in today’s world, there is an ever-growing demand for transparent and objective tools for assessing the quality of education. To apply, promote and advance them, the colleges need funding. Hence, the cost of education is getting higher. However, there are colleges which are not aimed at advertising their success and authority so that the cost of education therein is lesser. Thus, the choice of college is not reliant on economic aspects because the quality of education can be the same in both expensive and cheap colleges.
The accreditation procedure cannot solve all problems associated with the choice of a college or profession, placing the state order for training of specialists and the opening or closing of certain educational programs in high school, among others. Under these conditions, the popularity rating of colleges is growing due to the advertisements. Appearing as a tool for intrahigh comparisons (comparison of students, departments, and faculties), ratings have gradually become part of the infrastructure of national education and innovation systems. They are largely allowed to make informed decisions on the scale of the state representatives of different target audiences, namely students and their parents, employers and experts in recruitment, the management of universities, and education authorities.
Currently, a new form of organization of educational and scientific activities contributing to the development of intellectual potential and competitiveness is the national research universities. Competition between universities in the global educational space is grounded on the struggle to attract high-quality human, material and non-material resources.
Competitive advantages are allowed to those colleges that have high intellectual potential, occupy a strong position in the market and have their own development strategy on the basis of several competitive positions. Each college should shape their values, which will enable it to reach the widest audience. The following indicators can be considered to reflect the fame and prestige of the university (i.e. its brand), high-quality education, professional knowledge and competent teachers. Also, the possibility of successful employment after graduation is important; however, it is difficult to forecast it. In addition, the availability of a wide range of international fellowships and practices and an opportunity to get an innovative and promising higher professional education (advanced training programs and discipline) are important. Finally, the opportunity to learn with the help of the most modern equipment (good material and technical assistance) and a wide range of training areas (specialties) play a major role. However, they cannot impact to a great extent the success of a student in their future job. Hence, according to the economic compound of the colleges, it does not matter which college one choses. In other words, it is possible to spend much money on education but be totally unsuccessful in learning (in showing perfect academic performance) and finding the job in the future.
The changes in the society inevitably entail the transformation of all social institutions and processes. Since the entire history of mankind is a continuous process of development, it is represented by various periods which differ only in the speed of change. It is quite natural for the researchers to note a permanent transformation of society mechanisms of reproduction of its members. Sociological study of socialization processes in the conditions of a transformed society took place in a number of classic and at the same time permanently topical research. It was focused on the way people make choices and how these processes are impacted.
Indeed, determining the influence of the leaders of a generation, it is possible, for example, to optimize or successfully adjust policies of social management at various levels. It means that society is a set of people wherein there are leaders. The aspect of social leadership is gained via particular contributions. Undoubtedly, these contributions are possible only having a great education. However, how the agents of socialization impact the choice of a college and its necessity is a versatile question.
It is possible to claim that socialization agents tend to impact the choice of people. In this case, they influence the need or its absence in choosing a college. The choice of the future path after leaving a school (work, college, high school, service in the army), family, and career start, among others is important. It is, thus, interesting to analyze the degree of influence of various agents of socialization on the choice of college, which forms a vital strategy for the individual after graduation. It seems that it is correct to consider socialization agents sources of information about the university. Indeed, the family, school, teachers, classmates, friends, the Internet, and other media are generally recognized as the primary agents of socialization with varying degrees of influence and specific functions. It should be noted that the analysis of the dynamics of the influence of socialization agents on rating has not only theoretical but also practical value. The emergence of new actors in the social space decreases or increases their rankings. They not only can give general information about the social transformations but also help, for example, to adjust the policy of conducting admission campaign to the college. However, each of these socialization agents cannot be regarded as objective because they are primarily impacted by the colleges’ advertisement, which has been discussed in the previous section. In other words, socialization agents impact the choice of applicants; however, in reality, their impact is not natural because they are influenced by the colleges. It means that the college’s authority is what the college advertises itself. Hence, every advertisement or promotional campaign is aimed at showing the positive sides of a college, and it is logical to state that all colleges are advantageous. Therefore, the choice of college from the social point of view does not also matter.
First and foremost, the family is among the primary agents of socialization, as it was mentioned in the previous section. This aspect is important because it comprises the family attitude toward the necessity of the choice of a college. In fact, this is a reasonable practice since it seems to be quite difficult to make a decision that affects the trajectory of life for a significant period of time when a person is 16 or 17. In addition to lack of experience, the former school students are not able to independently take responsibility for their decisions and actions, including the economic compound. At the same time, it is hardly possible to perform a clearly positive assessment of the situation, when a decision is taken by parents on their own, and applicants are simply informed about the decision. Thereafter, it is necessary to take into account the fact that the student will take responsibility for their studies at the college, which they did not choose. Hence, in the situation when the family decides which college a person should enter, the matter of choice is irrelevant.
As a consequence, the lack of motivation will inevitably affect the quality of education received by the student. Furthermore, the presence of such students negatively affects the microclimate in the group. However, there is the other strategy the parents can participate in making this important decision, namely joint discussion of options with the child. Apparently, this strategy is popular enough since the number of families which used this approach is nearly 50% of the current freshmen. Nevertheless, this represents only a slightly varying degree of democracy.
Interestingly, the indicator of the significance of family financial possibilities compared to the year 2011 has doubled, from 3% to 6.6% respectively. However, it is not as significant figure as it was expected. The financial capacities of families should not be a decisive aspect. In fact, if families are prosperous, the choice of colleges is very wide. On the contrary, if the economic situation in families is not favorable, the choice of the colleges is more limited. In any case, the choice of a college from this point of view does not guarantee perfect future for the students. Thus, students from both rich and poor families can be very successful or can fail, regardless of the college they chose. Hence, it is not important to pay much attention to the choice of a college.
Currently, the topic of the impact of the Internet on social life is one of the most popular. The study of the phenomenon of receiving such a large-scale distribution and so radically changing society is a necessary measure. The process of prediction of the outcomes of these transformations does not always work since it only identifies certain patterns and the main vectors of development. Moreover, it can show the way to use the possible opportunities. Starting with the simplification and improvement of the comfort level of different types of social interaction, the Internet has gradually become not only the tool of change for the forms of interaction, but it also replaced their virtual activity, changing the nature of work, communication, leisure and social activities.
At the same time, it began to transform the system of values, standards, patterns of behavior and communication norms, replacing it with a new ‘light’ form and extending it to all the other spheres of life. Thus, the Internet has gradually acquired the status of an agent of socialization. It is worth noting the fact that the Internet can be included in the primary and the secondary stage of socialization. However, the extent of its influence on a person’s choice of a college or its absence is considerable. Being a tool for advertisement, the Internet dictates a student whether they should enter a college and which college is better. However, such situation does not provide a truthful answer to the question whether a particular college is the best. Hence, the Internet compound should not impact the choice of a college. On the contrary, it should confirm the fact that notwithstanding the college choice, a person is not guaranteed against failure in their life. Thus, this is another argument in favor of the fact that the choice of a college does not matter.
The Necessity of College Choice and the Intellectual Elite
Having analyzed the possible compounds which determine or eliminate the necessity of the choice of a college, it is important to note that professional viability is not always dependent on the recognition of other professionals and their experience from a particular college. Among the options related to professional self-realization and career alternatives, there are the achievements in the chosen profession and a position which is located significantly further in the hierarchy than the matter of college choice.
According to the investigation conducted by Davis et al., it is also vital that respondents tend to be little risky since almost 90% of respondents’ value is constant work and a guaranteed future, while only slightly more than 40% of respondents stated that a choice of college is the most important thing. For young people, it is important not only to work but also to have a varied and interesting leisure and create a strong, prosperous family. The majority of the respondents did not recognize the necessity of choosing the most expensive or the best college to succeed in their lives. On the contrary, the results of the investigation showed that a successful job and a good family are not determined by the college choice.
In a study conducted by Davis et al., the professional self-determination after graduating from the school is associated with two choices, namely education (focus on a particular university) and profession (the realization of the future employment of the sphere). According to intellectually gifted students, the most important factor when choosing a college is a high-quality education that is supported by strong competition among colleges for gifted students. In determining the desired place of study and the choice of profession is impacted by interests, aptitudes and abilities of gifted students. To receive education in their chosen profession and to do what is interesting are among the most vital factors in most cases. However, they cannot be guaranteed by the college choice. Evidently, the researchers’ investigation aims to show that colleges are important, but their choice plays merely no role in one’s success and future. The importance of colleges is in their ability to create the so-called intellectual elite.
People always feel an inner need to comply with the authority or principle, which they freely and willingly serve. Talking about the matter of college, it is possible to state that the college’s educational ideal is to graduate not only trained but also well-brought-up people as well as not only knowledgeable but also understanding members of society. Evidently, education is not only learning but also training. The established Western notions suggest that colleges must provide the specialty but are not obliged to teach students to be responsible and loyal.
Another point in the choice of the college is employers. For the employer, obviously, professional knowledge is important. However, it is obvious that the higher education should prepare professionals. That is why today there are more and more differentiated specialties because knowledge of the structure becomes more complicated. Thereafter, the colleges must create the conditions for the development of abilities and inclinations of each individual. In fact, this also applies to those whose capacity is already evident and those who need help with understanding themselves. Apparently, even those students who initially refuse any social work and believe that the main thing is to attend classes evidently develop the idea that in both cases the choice of a college is not that important. Hence, the intellectual elite can be created in any college since everything is determined by students and their intentions. The choice of college is not the matter of fact for the process of employment. Thus, it does not matter which college a person enters, while it is more important whether a person wants to study and perform tasks on the life-long basis.
We have analyzed the essential compounds which are likely to contribute to the fact that the choice of a college does not matter. The aspects discussed state that colleges are more or less standard educational institutions. They do not determine whether a person will succeed or not in the future. In addition to the content of education and general scientific and specialized training, the college should provide development of students’ critical, analytical, and problem-dialogical thinking. It should contribute to the improvement of the capacity for strategic goal setting and scenario analysis and create the consolidation of the organizational and command skills and interpersonal group interaction. It has to develop the skills of innovation and experience in decision-making under conditions of growing uncertainty. It should stimulate the process of obtaining the skills of critical thinking and those reflective of contemporary global problems.
Hence, these qualities can be gained, regardless of the college and its location. Each college provides a wide array of educational training, owning information technology and foreign languages on the profile of training, and receives instruction in special programs of high complexity aimed at deeper specialization. Finally, it is necessary to claim that the choice of college does not matter.