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Do you have to attend one of the top colleges to earn the most money and achieve the greatest career success?

Certainly elite colleges like Dartmouth and top universities such as Princeton have name recognition that could help you secure an interview or win a job over other candidates. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the reputation of your alma mater does not translate directly into higher wages or career success.

Networking opportunities at top universities and colleges

Attending top universities and colleges can help you build influential networks that open doors after graduation.

Faculty members and alumni can help you obtain references and job leads, and you can build a large network of friends at a top college that could eventually lead to job opportunities.

In addition, conferences and seminars at top colleges provide opportunities for you to connect with experts and specialists, which could lead to internships and full-time employment.

Determining the best colleges

Attending a top university or college may not be right for you. The best colleges will meet your academic, career, financial, and personal needs.

If you know what career you want to pursue, then attending a college that specializes in your field or has exceptional academic programs in your field will enable you to graduate fully prepared for the job market.

For instance, some universities contain journalism schools, nursing colleges, or schools of library and information science. There are also independent professional schools such as art schools, law schools, and veterinary colleges.

Finding the best university for you

Graduating from one of the best universities or colleges will not guarantee success. Your academic and career achievements will depend more on hard work and determination than on the name recognition of a school.

Besides, the value of a college education encompasses more than career success and potential earning power. Students can receive many intangible benefits from their college experiences including the opportunity to expand their worldviews, build lifelong friendships, participate in a variety of activities, and study abroad.

Furthermore, research suggests that college graduates tend to have higher rates of civic participation and are more likely to be happy individuals.