Does Studying At A Good University Get You A Better Job?
Graduate thinking about their future
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Does Studying At A Good University Get You A Better Job?

Jasmyne Jeffery December 7, 2022

One of the biggest reasons students go to university is for the best chance of getting their dream job. Lots of students think that studying at a good university gets you a better job. We take a look at if those beliefs are true.

Universities often use how many of their students have gone on to graduate jobs as a measurement of their success. Whilst it certainly helps inform students about what universities are better than others, it doesn’t mean that that university is better.

Thousands of students a year apply for Russell Group or even Oxbridge universities. Often, the thought is that they’ll get a better career out of it. But is that actually the case?

Does Studying At A Good University Get You A Better Job?

According to UK employers, not necessarily, no.

QS Top Universities recently asked big UK companies about whether the university attended by graduates mattered to them. The crux of their answers was no, not really. In general, the employers said that they valued experience, skill and what the individual was like as a person.

For example, an HR business partner at Network Rail said the following on the matter:

“Even at the assessment process, it’s more about what you’re like as a person.” He then on to say that doing research on the company and its values is much more crucial, “It shows that you’ve really taken the time to understand the company itself.”

The Head of Talent at Mars UK that taking from the top universities would decrease the diversity in their staff:

“We want to recruit the best talent; people who are curious, self-aware, have a willingness to learn, develop and grow at pace […] This can come from any university and from someone with lots or no work experience – we have various routes and exciting career paths to take.”

All in all, the employers looked at valued passion, values and vision much more than the university attended. So, even if you didn’t attend one of the top universities, there’s no reason why you can’t get your dream job if you are determined and passionate enough.

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Students From Top Universities Perform Better

With that being said, Harvard Business Review recently found that there was a correlation between the career performance of graduates and the rank of their university. This suggests that attending a top university may have some influence or your success.

Their study looked at almost 30,000 students from over 250 schools, ranking from the top ten in the world to the top 20,000. After looking at the students for two months in the real world, they found that the students from top universities performed better. Students from a top university compared to those from a globally average university performed 19 per cent better.

Although that sounds drastic, in world rankings these universities are 10,000 places apart. Additionally, you have to consider the types of students that get into top universities. For example, the acceptance rate is much narrower at Oxbridge compared to ex-polys. This means competition within the class is much tighter and there’s more to be done to prove yourself.

You Do The Hard Work, Not The University

The competencies to get into a high-ranking university are established much earlier in education than the university. Therefore, it can’t really be measured what a university actually does that the students weren’t doing or capable of before.

To reiterate our point, if you are determined and passionate, you will be like that in any environment — not just a top university. Sure, you may be given opportunities and facilities that a more average university can’t offer, but how well you do, inside and outside of university is down to you.

Even Harvard agrees:

“Based on our data, the institutional environment did not seem to play a role in enhancing performance. Graduates from lower-ranked universities showed an equal level of motivation and work ethics, so this could be more affected by personality and other individual factors.”

It can’t be said that all employers won’t value a top university over others, but the assumption that they all do is incorrect. Don’t give your university more credit than it’s due. You put the hard work in, after all. Take the glory and nab yourself that top job.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.