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Other How reliable are university rankings?

  1. Nov 9, 2017 #1
    Hi guys.
    I opened this thread to ask how much important the University when a people study is, in terms of employability.

    I know that there are very good universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and MIT, but what about the others?
    There are jobs available only for people that get a degree in the greatest universities ?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2017 #2
    I've been on lots of hiring committees and had this conversation with others on hiring committees many times. Institutional prestige matters more early in your career and also when applying for jobs that have your degree institution on their web site. This is more common for teaching jobs and consulting scientists/engineers. For a consulting firm, every perspective client will know where you graduated from, so it never stops mattering.

    Now for the other jobs, during the first 10 years after you graduate, companies are worried about not only what you can do, but the quality of your work. There experience tells them that places like Ga Tech and NC State tend to produce higher quality employees than places like Western Carolina University, and Georgia Southern. Places like Texas A&M and UT-Austin are a better bet than McNeese State.

    Most states and regions have a regional top tier, which is much more accessible that Harvard and MIT, but definitely more employable than lower tier schools in the region.
  4. Nov 9, 2017 #3
    Thanks for your reply.
    So, the hiring committees have a list of the best universities and they used to hire people by the university they attended?

    How is the accurate are sites university ranking like " QS university" or "Times Higher Education (THE)" or the "shanghai ranking"?
  5. Nov 9, 2017 #4
    Not exactly. But other factors being equal (GPA, research experience, work experience) prestige means something. A 3.9 from LSU may compete with a 3.5 from Texas A&M or GA Tech. A 4.0 from McNeese state won't even make the interview if a 3.9 from LSU and a 3.5 from Texas A&M are in the pool.

    But with a degree from MIT married to a lady with a PhD from Harvard, I can assure you we get interviewed for a higher percentage of jobs we apply for than just about anyone else we know.

    Applicants with degrees from good schools always get a very hard look. In most states, it comes down to the top 2-3 schools in the state. If your degree is not from one of the top schools in your state, then what makes your resume stand out from the other 100 or so in the pile?
  6. Nov 10, 2017 #5
    That's the point, so in conclusion is better to graduate in the top schools.
    But how a person can know which are the best school?
    With the exception of Harvard, Stanford and MIT, that are well known by the people, how can a person know which are the best universities ?
  7. Nov 10, 2017 #6
    What state are you in and in what subject do you intend to major?
  8. Nov 10, 2017 #7
    I'm from Italy so I can't answer, but I can ask which are the most important italian universities for USA?
  9. Nov 10, 2017 #8
    Are you talking about employment or grad school? What discipline?

    Most of the hiring committees I've been on (and people I've spoken to) are not going to give any consideration to applicants who do not yet have permission to work in the US if there are other qualified applicants in the pool. Keep in mind, your application is in a stack of 100 or more that the committee needs to review before narrowing it down to 5-6 for phone interviews and 2-3 for in-person interviews. What makes yours stand out? Why should they pay thousands more to fly you in for a personal interview?

    There are some standard tools that committees can use to evaluate the strength of applicants from foreign schools. But there needs to be something special about your application for them to even bother.
  10. Nov 10, 2017 #9
    Both, i'm talking about Science and tech in general, like physics/engineering.

    So if one day I will have to come to work in the US I will need a job offer from someone and after that I can apply for other jobs?
    I don't know what can make me special considering i'm from overseas.
    I suggest a good university with great marks.

    Can you give me some examples?
  11. Nov 10, 2017 #10
    Immigration and legal employment are complex topics. I'm not an expert, so I won't say much beyond how a committee views it. Applications without current permission to work in the US do not get any attention if there are qualified applicants in the pool.

    The president of one engineering company I know says "get famous." By this they mean, develop an outstanding reputation in your field. This is usually accomplished with a number of excellent publications and presentations at prestigious events. It is unlikely to be accomplished as an undergraduate.
    Immigration and legal employment are complex topics. I'm not an expert, so I won't say much beyond how a committee views it. Applications without current permission to work in the US do not get any attention if there are qualified applicants in the pool.

    I've never seen a recent foreign graduate impress a US company enough to jump through the hoops and expense needed to get them permission to work in the US. I've seen the possibility discussed in the hiring committees, but in the end they decide that the possible, but uncertain, benefits do not outweigh the risks and expenses.
  12. Nov 10, 2017 #11
    I have a friend of 30 years old that graduated in Europe in mechanical engineer and now she work of Caterpillar, but maybe it's easy to work for this company...maybe.

    Making research requires a lot of time, but also lots of money that most of european countries doesn't have, because university is cheap or free most of the time, so there aren't money for research.

    Why should be so risky, if a person graduated from a good university?
    I understand the fact that is more easy to find a person in the US.

    How is possible to obtain the permission to work?
  13. Nov 10, 2017 #12


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    Staff: Mentor

    Generally, if a company in the US wants to hire someone who is not a US citizen or legal permanent resident (green card), they have to prove that they tried and failed to find a citizen or permanent resident who can do the job. There are some exceptions. Immigration law is complicated. Also, as you may have read, immigration is a major political issue here nowadays.
  14. Nov 10, 2017 #13
    Yes, especially for who are from Mexico.
    But I never thought it's so hard to work in the USA, this is available also for Australia or Canada?

    Even if a person came from Oxford or Cambridge?
  15. Nov 10, 2017 #14


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    This is a very expansive, messy topic that doesn't have clean-cut simple answers. You're going to need to do some research on your own.
    - - - -
    My take based on a number of threads you've posted recently: as an Italian, if you want to work in tech (or perhaps a US multinational in a generic industry) you should consider leveraging EU membership. If Brexit is delayed sufficiently, target London. Of course a suitable degree in STEM from Oxbridge or LSE or what have you, could be useful in getting a nice job in London but it isn't a requirement per se. There's a lot there in startups in London. Also a lot of large international companies will do internal transfers from London offices to a New York or California office after a couple years experience (though bureaucracy has a habit of slowing the process down quite a bit).

    If London isn't on the table, but you're interested in tech, there's a lot of interesting startup activity in Berlin. Good luck.
  16. Nov 10, 2017 #15
    You said it yourself above - coming here to accept a job at a company that jumped through all the hoops to get you permission to work here, then applying for jobs with other companies once you have permission to work here. For the best qualified employees, the biggest risk is that the employee won't work for the company long enough to cover the costs of hiring and training.
  17. Nov 10, 2017 #16
    I know that in Berlin there are opportunities but students must know how to speak german language, english is not enough.

    With Brexit there are a lots of problems, many italian are coming back.
    David Davies said: "EU migrants who come to the UK as Brexit nears may not be given the right to stay."
  18. Nov 10, 2017 #17
    Yes, but in this case I will need at least a company that want to hire me, am I wrong?

    Who have to pay for the cost of hiring and training, the company or the employer?
  19. Nov 10, 2017 #18
    As in the title, my question is, how reliable are university rankings?
    I personally know about QS ranking, Shanghai ranking, THE ranking and Taiwan web ranking.
    Do I have to trust them?
  20. Nov 10, 2017 #19


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    Gold Member

    This is wrong.

    Re-read my posting. I did not mention being a student in Germany. I said tech startups in Berlin. I know someone doing exactly this right now. He's technically from a german speaking country, but has been abroad so much that his german is terrible. If you are doing tech in Berlin, he says 'you can do everything in english'. Knowing german helps a bit for socialzing / networking, but is not required.

    If you want to venture out from home, you're going to need to try different things and take a few risks. There are few guarantees here.
  21. Nov 10, 2017 #20
    My question is- who cares? Go to a school that fits your interests. Nitpicking over if a school should be ranked 6th or 5th is a waste of time.
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