Prestige isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be

Amidst all the outcries against the tuition hike, I am surprised that students have not taken offense at board member Dennis Pawley. During a board of trustees meeting, Pawley said that if he were to compare two resumes, one from Oakland University and one from another college, the one from OU would not be as highly regarded. It’s as if we’re being told that we wasted four or more years at a university that isn’t named Michigan State or the University of Michigan. It’s as if we’re being told that we went to an inferior university and that we wasted our time for doing so.

His anecdote reminds me of Patrick Bateman, the main character in the novel and movie “American Psycho.” Bateman was someone who engaged in conspicuous consumerism and was proud of it. Bateman could point out what type of clothes a person was wearing by looking at someone. He would proceed to criticize the person if he felt his clothing was inferior to what he was wearing.  Sadly, it seems that we’re getting to the point that what college we’re attending is becoming a point of fashion and not about the education.

In 2006, TIME magazine had an article titled “Who Needs Harvard”. The article discussed how students were opting to go for lesser-known universities over the bigger ones. One part of the article quoted a guidance counselor, who said that there is a line of thinking that going to a brand name college is the best security; and that it needs to be changed to finding a college that is right for the student.

That same article cited a Quarterly Journal of Economics study in 2002 showing that students who were accepted by top schools but went to less selective ones were doing as well as the students who went to more prestigious schools. In the article, one student chose not to go to one of the Ivy League schools because of the hypercompetitiveness and the feeling of a seek and destroy mentality that he felt when he was in high school.

Freshman Clint Grunalt said he chose Oakland University because it was close to home and because of its nursing program, despite being accepted by two other schools.

I only live a half an hour away. It’s not the most expensive school but it still costs money. I was accepted into Adrian and Albion. I heard Oakland has a really good nursing program and that’s what I am going into,” said Grunalt.

That is good reasoning. The quality of programs OU offers matters more than having a prestigious name.

I chose OU as it was close to home, had small class sizes, and at the suggestion of a cousin of mine. I also talked to friends who were attending various colleges and in the end the ones attending OU convinced me. There is also a professor teaching at this university who works for the Wall Street Journal. He attended OU, which suggests that prestige isn’t everything.

 If OU is desperate to improve their reputation, let the programs do the talking and not advertising campaigns such as the “You can afford this” campaign that is often mocked by students. The nursing program mentioned by Grunalt is a good example.

The Oakland Post took third place for in-depth reporting and third for best all-around non-daily newspaper in our region from the Society of Professional Journalism. The radio station, WXOU along with Student Video Productions won three awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Annual High School and College Broadcast Excellence Awards. WXOU’s Matthew Pocket took first place in sports play by play. Why isn’t OU trying to use those examples as a way to enhance our reputation instead of using advertising campaigns, which are mocked by the student body? OU should be using those awards that those respective programs have won as a way to convince students to attend OU.

We should not be so concerned about our prestige at the moment. What we put on our resume isn’t limited to what university we attended but other factors. While having a prestigious name on your resume may give a nice “wow” factor, it’s what you’ve also done in addition to attending that university. But that’s not what Pawley thinks is on employers’ minds when looking at resumes.