State Schools Outrank The Ivy League

I knew there was a reason I went to a state school – other than the fact that I was paying my own way and it made financial sense to do so. It turns out that recruiters rank state schools higher in terms of quality employees.

According to a Wall Street Journal survey of top corporate recruiters whose companies last year hired 43,000 new graduates, state schools not only offered a bigger candidate pool they also better trained their students for real-world experiences on the job. The top big state schools: Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Journal asked companies to rank schools that produce the best-qualified graduates — overall and by major. Recruiters made clear they preferred big state schools over elite liberal arts schools, such as the Ivies. A number of state schools were added to recruiters' lists in the last two years, including Penn State and Arizona State University (No. 5) and Ohio State University (No. 12).

But why would a state school outrank the likes of Harvard? It appears that necessity is the mother of a quality education. Many state schools forge partnerships with companies to cover the gaps. Companies ensure colleges have up-to-date labs, equipment and technology and in turn they get an early look at promising students, leading to internships and job offers.

Another theory, kids who go to state schools are more eager to enter the workforce and stay there. Their Ivy League peers have their sites set on graduate school, therefore they aren't good long-term job candidates.

Regardless of the reasons, it's nice to know that the playing field is somewhat leveled for bright kids who can't afford an Ivy League education. And for those who can, remember that experience is an enviable trait in recruiters' eyes.

Traci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor