General Question

iWitch's avatar

In the field of anthropology, is your choice of pre-graduate school a large factor in job selection, and if so, is a state college good enough or is a top-twenty school standard?

Asked by iWitch (593 points ) August 12th, 2010

I’m a high school senior and I’m still unsure of where I’m going to go to college. I had assumed I would go to a local state college, but then I started looking into potential job opportunities in my chosen field. I noticed many professors, museum curators, and travel researchers graduated from a top-twenty school even for their BA.

When I attempt research into other anthropological fields, I often either get short articles or feel like all my questions haven’t been answered. Would someone with more insight into the field please give me some hints on the direction I should take with college selection and narrowed major as well as additional professions where I will be able to use my major?

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4 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

In my experience in academia (I’m life scientist, not a social scientist) an undergraduate school with a good reputation and good anthropology department will be helpful for getting into graduate school. But where you go to graduate school and how you perform there will determine how easily you get a job.

wundayatta's avatar

If you are a good student and you create a record of accomplishment, it doesn’t matter where you go undergrad. You’ll still be able to get into a good graduate school. Undergraduate major also matters little, either to jobs or to graduate school. So go to the school you want; major in what you want; and work hard and get good grades, and you’ll be able to open most doors you need to open.

It is true, as @nikipedia said, that if you go to a school with a good rep, it will help, but it is certainly not necessary. Having said that, I would always go to the best school I could get into. However, you do have to be careful about some of the best schools. Sometimes the graduates of those schools have trouble getting jobs because employers have found them to be a little too lazy because of their lives of privilege. As with everything, there are pros and cons. Write them down on a list and see what the balance is.

iWitch's avatar

@nikipedia & @wundayatta Thanks so much. :) That really helps.

bolwerk's avatar

I am in partial agreement with previous posters. Do what you want, but also be careful. Undergrad is the new high school.

My advice about what to pursue: you like anthropology, go with it. But anthropology seems to be a pretty competitive field because more people pursue the education than there are positions available, and what positions are available often demand an advanced degree – but this probably isn’t so different than most college majors these days. Picking up math or a hard science might be a good idea while you’re an undergrad (in other words, perhaps double major – do one thing you’re interested in, such as anthro, and one thing that you can fall back on when times are tough).

Picking a school: If you can get into a top 20 school and afford it, that’s great. But I don’t think it makes any sense to go to one immediately. If your family is any less than comfortably upper middle class, and/or you don’t get a generous scholarship, I think an expensive private school is a waste. There’s no reason you can’t start at a state school or community college and enjoy two years of low tuition while doing all the stuff that you’re going to need to take later anyway. This is true whether you’re a good high school student or a bad high school student. The first two years of college are almost universally basic core classes that teach all the stuff high schools generally don’t get through to you.

Heck, if you plan to transfer, community college is probably the best way to go. It’s the cheapest tuition and the courses are designed to be as transferable as possible. Very likely the counselors are more helpful at directing you too.

Private schools can be more expensive than public ones by a factor of ten or more, and a lot of people waste valuable years of their lives paying off big debts that could have been at least partially avoided if they waited two years before transferring to an ivy or one of the seven sisters.

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