Don’t Get Hung Up On Brand Names

If you’ve lived in Southern California any time in the last 50 years, you’ve heard his name, you’ve seen his face.  Larry H. Parker.  He has billboards and commercials.  He’s won billions for his injured clients.

Larry H. Parker died in March at the age of 75.  Here’s his obituary from the LA Times.

Larry H. Parker, the most successful personal injury lawyer in California and possibly in the country, went to California State University, Los Angeles, and then to Southwestern Law School.

Did you see an Ivy League school on his resume?  Nope.  Not even close.  Larry H. Parker went to two very unremarkable and unimpressive colleges.  And he made millions, probably hundreds of millions, over his forty-year legal career, leaving behind an incredibly successful law firm that will continue to carry on his legacy.

If it’s not already obvious to you, my point here is that you don’t need to go to a brand-name, well-known or highly ranked college to have a successful career and life.  In fact, one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, makes a strong argument in this fabulous speech for actually NOT going to the most “elite” college where you’re admitted!  The first job students will have after college is strongly correlated to the internships (or co-ops) they do during college, and not so much to the college they actually attend.  By their second job out of college, prospective employers will stop asking where they earned their degree.

So why do we focus so heavily on college “brand names?”  To the detriment, in fact, of our kids’ mental health?!  This Today Show segment features an author who reinforces the fact that the experience students have in college – wherever they go – is more important than the name of the college they attend.  How much angst could we prevent if instead of focusing on the names we all spend too much time talking about – those “highly ranked” colleges (wait – what do those rankings actually measure?!) – we focus on finding the college environment where each student can feel comfortable academically, socially and emotionally?

If you need some help along this journey, that’s what we’re here for.  Magellan College Counseling helps students and families make the college admission experience more organized and less stressful – helping students find the college where they FIT, and where they’ll become the human being they are intended to be.  Reach out if you’d like some help with this!

Do brand names make us better people? Or are they just a distraction?


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