Going to a Fancy College Doesn't Make You Happier

Survey finds life satisfaction isn't linked to prestigious institutions

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted May 6, 2014 3:33 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Didn't get into Harvard? Don't worry, you probably wouldn't be any happier if you had. A new Gallup poll finds that, for the most part, there's no significant difference in levels of life satisfaction between graduates of garden-variety colleges and graduates of prestigious colleges. In fact, there was little difference no matter what type of college subjects attended—public or private, big or small—with one exception, the Los Angeles Times reports. That exception: Graduates of private for-profit institutions were much less satisfied with life, and were also less likely to be well-engaged at work.

Why? The lead researcher says those students may have already had a lower socioeconomic status than others, or those schools may not be doing as much to help graduates advance. Other findings:

  • People who owed more than $20,000 in student debt reported more problems than those who did not.
  • Graduates who had a mentor at college, or at least one professor that made them excited about learning, were much more likely to be "thriving" in their post-grad life, NPR reports.
  • Graduates who had paid internships or who were heavily involved in extracurricular activities were twice as likely to be engaged in their current careers.

In this 2009 file photo, a woman enters the Widener Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
In this 2009 file photo, a woman enters the Widener Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, file)
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If you can go to Podunk U debt free, vs. Harvard for $100,000, go to Podunk. And concentrate on what you do when you get there. - Brandon Busteed, leader of Gallup's education work

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