Many job applicants worry that employers will judge them solely on where they went to college. The truth is that while the prestige of a college or university does matter, employers know that the name on the certificate doesn’t tell the whole story.

For instance, while some employers will choose applicants who attended a more prestigious college over those who attended a local community college, this is only the case if the student at the more prestigious school actually did well at that school. On the other hand, if the student at the community college graduated at the top of their class and the student from a more prestigious college graduated with a low grade average, employers may be inclined to give the job to the applicant who attended the community college.

Where to get your certificate

Deciding whether the name on the certificate will matter or not is also dependent on the nature of the profession. It is true that some extremely competitive industries — such as law or academia — put more emphasis on where applicants went to school as a means of reducing a large pool of candidates. On the other hand, jobs in nursing or computer industries are in such high demand that employers will probably look at graduates from nearly any school, regardless of its relative prestige.

In any case, remember that the name on the certificate is less important over time. Where an applicant went to school is most helpful for landing their first job. After that, potential employers will put much more weight on having solid references, good interpersonal skills, and relevant work experience.

So if you didn’t go — or aren’t planning on going — to a prestigious university, don’t worry. In the long run, there are far more important factors than the name on your certificate, such as level of your degree (associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral). Furthermore, don’t overlook the potential benefits of attending a community or state college, especially if you plan on getting a job locally. Remember that many employers will be alumni of local colleges and will be anxious to support fellow graduates. Having attended the same college will give you and your employer something in common, which is something even the most prestigious university can’t give you.


Kari Whitaker is a technical as well as creative writer. In addition to articles on education and careers, she also enjoys writing short stories, essays, and poetry.

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One comment on “What’s in a Name? Do Employers Really Care Where You Went to School?

  • Vocational Schools usually provide more practical knowledge colleges. If you are going into a field like automotive repair, it might be better to seek out a well known tech school. The same applies to broadcasting, there are broadcasting school’s that have established reputations in the industry, while community colleges cannot offer you that same training.

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