I know it's quite old, but it just seems flawed that I have to talk about it. I want to address various quotes.
"If you go to Harvard for your undergrad and got some tiny, crappy school for your master's and doctorate's, you're career is not going to be hot."
This is totally wrong. If you go to Harvard for undergrad and then go straight out into the workforce, your career will be pretty good. However, if you decided to get even more educated and get a Master's Degree, that's just a bonus and your career will be even better, no matter what school it's from. According to this link, nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_104.20.asp, only 7.4% of people even have a Master's Degree. This means that getting a Master's Degree is impressive to the point that it doesn't matter a whole lot where you get it from.
"Now some of you may have the argument that you HAVE to go to an awesome school for undergrad to get into an awesome grad school. Aren't you forgetting something else, like the GRE? It's basically the SAT/ACT for undergrads. We've all seen bright kids come from crappy high schools and go to a great undergrad college."
He has it completely backwards. You do have to go to a well-known undergraduate school to go to a well-known graduate school. In-fact, many students who go to prestigious schools for undergrad end up going to mediocre schools for grad school. But the other way around doesn't happen. Of the students who go to a mediocre school for undergrad, the few who choose to pursue a Master's Degree will also go to a mediocre school for graduate school.
However, there's nothing wrong with going to a mediocre grad school because getting a Master's Degree is impressive no matter where you do it. I know that the link I provided above only applies 25-29 year olds, but the vast majority of students who do a get a Master's Degree do so at 24 or younger, so if someone is 25 and doesn't have a Master's Degree, it's safe to assume they'll never get one. Even among white people, the percentage with a Master's Degree is only about 8.6.
And this is coming from someone who attends a mediocre state university as an undergrad. I've long accepted that I'll to go to a mediocre state school for grad school. But I'm not fussed about it because when I'm grad school, I'll probably have several classmates who went to well-known colleges for undergrad and once I've finished my Master's, employers will be so impressed that I've accomplished something that 92.6% of the country hasn't that they're hardly going to care where I did it.
Anyways, does anyone disagree with this thread the way I do?
I think it's really really depends 1) what industry you want to be in and 2) what you do while you're in school, whether it's undergrad or grad. To me, undergrad is important for more than just name recognition and education. It's about the experience and connections you make there. I think that less so for grad school but I'm a lawyer and law school curriculum is pretty much standardized.
If I had to rank it based on what I have personally seen and experienced it would look like this:
If you are only planning on going to undergrad then go to the best school for your interest/ambition.
If you are planning on going to grad school and could somehow choose an elite school for only one of those choices I would wait for grad school for it.
I sort of did the opposite of what I'm espousing and went to a top liberal arts college and then a third tier law school. I am ten years into my career and I'm happy with my job and what I've done but I know I would have had more options outside of my small legal market had I went to a more prestigious law school. On the other hand some of my most successful friends (money wise anyway) went into management consulting or investment banking right out of undergrad due to the name recognition and connections they made there.
Anyway as a parent if I planned on paying for grad school plus college I'd probably steer my child towards the cheaper undergrad if they knew they had a shot at going someplace more expensive for grad school...but how do you know that at 18?