Alma Mater Doesn’t Matter

According to a recent study, graduates of prestigious colleges are no happier than graduates of less-celebrated institutions:

Researchers found that attending a public or private school, whether it was elite or less selective, had little bearing on one’s feeling of well-being or how engaged graduates were with their post-college work. Gallup defined well being based on measures of social, financial, and physical status, as well as how the survey’s 30,000 respondents rated their sense of community and purpose. The type of school graduates attended had little impact on whether they reported high levels of well-being more or less across the board.

What did affect well-being for graduates were factors such as having professors and mentors who cared about them, winning a relevant internship, participating in extracurricular activities, completing long term projects, and feeling supported by their school. Although graduates of prestigious schools may earn more, money didn’t translate to a greater sense of well being.

And debt matters:

At a time when parents, graduates and lawmakers are increasingly concerned about the crippling impact of student loan debt on recent graduates, this report’s findings confirm that the issue is critical to their overall well-being. The data are clear and dramatic: 14 percent of graduates with no debt reported thriving in all areas of their lives, compared with just 4 percent of graduates with $20,000 to $40,000 in student loan debt and 2 percent of graduates with more than $40,000 in debt. According to the survey, “the higher the loan amount, the worse the well-being.”

Caitlin Emma reviews more of the study’s findings:

On the whole, 51 percent of 30,000 college graduates surveyed said they’re not engaged or “actively disengaged” in the workplace. But about half of graduates said they’re thriving when it comes to their sense of purpose, community and social lives. Forty-two percent said they’re thriving in financial management and 35 percent said the same of their physical health. In one “inspiring” finding, Gallup Education Executive Director Brandon Busteed told Morning Education that minority and first-generation students are just as likely to feel like they’re thriving post-graduation, even though they’re statistically less likely to graduate.