Be helpful! Share this article!

Most of our readers plan on going to another college after community college. The problem is, there are thousands of colleges. How do you pick one? There are two dominant theories out there. One, pick the best possible college you can get into, with choice of major secondary. If you can get into Harvard, even if they don’t have your exact program, go! Another theory is, don’t go by a name brand – instead look for a college that has exactly what you want to study. As long as it is a reasonably good, accredited college, you will do well because you will be studying something specific that you, hopefully, love.

We asked two experts their opinions. Here goes…

Vicky Oliver, author of the best-selling “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions” (Sourcebooks, 2005), states:  “I believe you should aim to get into the best college possible, and not worry too much about which major will lead to a particular career goal. It’s always helpful to have a ‘brand name’ college on your resume – ample evidence to future employers that you’re smart and work hard. College enhances and helps your ability to learn, another huge plus when it comes to job hunting. Also the network in a traditional college tends to open additional doors. It’s not just what you study but who you know and who they know. You only need one job waiting for you when you graduate college. But the college experience will last you for the rest of your life.

“The average person has eight careers during the course of his or her lifetime. Choosing a college based on one’s intended career is being short-sighted. Pick a great school and the career will fall into place.”

Michael Ray Smith, Ph.D., author of the free iPad book “A One-Step Guide to a Byline” and Professor of Communication Studies at Campbell University, disagrees: “In the day, names meant something. Now it’s about the candidate. What can she do for the organization? John S.Nichols, professor emeritus, told me about an Ivy League professor who never published. I think the brand name approach is overrated. Quality rises to the top. It may take longer, but quality candidates will be discovered and anyone with a web presence can get the word out about their work.”

He added: “Think about the pay check. Students who graduate with a two-year degree at Central Carolina Community College in North Carolina can earn a competitive staring salary of $40,000, if they choose wisely. For instance, a hot CCCC major concerns lasers, which are found in all kinds of products including cash registers.

“A student can save lots of money by studying the general education classes at a community college with the understanding that a nearby university is the goal to complete an undergraduate degree. … Again, majors are crucial. Many of us love education for education’s sake so study what you will; however, some parents want to know that their children will have a job at the end of the field of study. If that’s the case, it’s better to study the market and plan ahead. For instance, IT is hot along with business programs such as Trust Management.”

What’s your opinion? We’d like to know. Write to us at to chime in.