11 karmaJoined Dec 2020



    Thank you for the thoughtful response!

    After reading your comment, I’ve updated towards staying at my current school for the following reasons:

    • While I can see myself having a career in academic research, I’m not super confident that’s the direction I want for my career just yet. I also don’t really see myself entering consulting or finance. Outside of those fields, I’m not sure how much early-career benefit there is to having a brand name degree. There probably is some benefit, but it may not be as pronounced as in consulting or finance.
    • I think that mental health considerations are very important and I’m glad you pointed that out. I didn’t put much weight to that initially and I can see how transferring could add a lot of stress and potentially hurt GPA.

    I’m not sure how important peer effects are compared to other factors, but I get what you mean. In high school I had a good group of friends that challenged me academically. So far in college I haven’t had that kind of challenge from my friends, but I am just in my freshman year so that could change as I meet other people. Most of my academic motivation nowadays comes from myself and is less dependent on a healthy competition between me and my friends. I am in the school’s honors college as well, and while the honors students are more academically motivated, for me the challenge from my peers doesn’t feel the same as it did in high school. 

    I will probably get a master’s degree after finishing my undergrad, though I’m not yet sure what field it’ll be in. I think I can aim for a more well-known school once I get my master's. In terms of location, I’m not set on any particular city yet, though if I had to guess where I’ll eventually end up it would be somewhere on the East Coast or West Coast. I think this is mainly because my career path is not super solid right now and I’m mostly exploring different career paths. In terms of mental health, I can definitely see how a transfer could impact GPA negatively. Transferring could hurt my grad school admission chances if it lowers my GPA.

    Overall, while it looks like there are early-career benefits to attending a top university, at least for me it may not be worth the costs in terms of increased financial cost, added stress, losing friends, and time and energy taken by transferring schools.

    Hi there! I am a freshman undergraduate finishing my first semester of college at a local US state university. I’m majoring in economics and statistics. Although I’m not sure what career path I’ll take just yet, I can see myself doing global priorities research or AI policy research down the line. I could also see myself working for the US federal government or at a think tank. I am considering data science as another option because of the career capital and the flexibility to work at many different places. The long-term plan is work on a top global issue, either directly or in a supporting role.

    The question I’m grappling with is: Should I transfer to a more elite university to improve my career prospects?

    The way I see it, going to a more elite university could provide the following benefits:

    • An environment surrounded by smart, motivated peers
    • Good connections
    • More research opportunities
    • Signaling benefit to having a degree from an elite college

    However, there are some possible downsides as well:

    • Largely losing the friends I made in my first semester of college, plus the friends at my college I knew from before
    • I would be at a city far away from home
    • It will likely cost 1.5x to 3x more than the college I’m at now

    Other pertinent information:

    • Economists Dale and Krueger find that “students who attended more selective colleges do not earn more than other students who were accepted and rejected by comparable schools but attended less selective colleges.” Assuming that earnings is a decent proxy for career success, it could mean that going to an elite college wouldn’t affect my career prospects very much.
    • In my senior year of high school, I applied to four different top 20 colleges and was not accepted by any of them. At the time, I didn’t care too much about university prestige so I didn’t make much effort to apply to many highly ranked schools. However, I do know a friend at my school who was pretty comparable to me academically (top 5 percent of my high school class) and got into a top 30 university. However, they applied to a lot more schools than I did, so that probably increased their odds of getting into a top school.
    • I currently have a 3.9 GPA. However, I only took three classes this semester, and this is only from one semester of college.
    • Many of the Ivy League and Ivy League-like schools have very low transfer acceptance rates (0-10 percent). However, there are other universities, like Vanderbilt and Emory, which have higher acceptance rates for transfers than first-year students (20-30 percent).

    Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated!