Corporate recruiters prefer state universities to Ivy League

Companies prefer to recruit new hires at big state universities – not at the prestigious Ivies, according to a new survey by the Wall Street Journal.

State universities have become the favorite because of their big student populations and focus on teaching practical skills, the WSJ found.

Under pressure to cut costs and streamline their hiring efforts, recruiting managers find it’s more efficient to focus on fewer large schools and forge deeper relationships with them, according to the WSJ survey of recruiters whose companies last year hired 43,000 new graduates.

Big state schools Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were the top three picks among recruiters surveyed.

Georgia Tech placed 7th.

The only Ivy in the top 25 was Cornell at No. 14.

Recruiters say graduates of top public universities are often among the most prepared and well-rounded academically, the WSJ said. Companies have found they fit well into their corporate cultures and over time have the best track record in their firms.

The Top 10

1. Penn State

2. Texas A&M

3. University of Illinois

4. Purdue

5. Arizona State

6. University of Michigan

7. Georgia Tech

8. University of Maryland

9. University of Florida

10. Carnegie Mellon

14 comments Add your comment


September 14th, 2010
8:33 am

I should be extra employable then given I attended two in the top 14. =P

I think the reason Cornell is on the list is b/c it is the largest Ivy and also has the greatest number of engineering majors. Prestige doesn’t matter if all your students are too busy studying for the LSAT/MCAT to go to the job fair. If you’re offering 40-60k starting, there isn’t a huge lure for Ivy students already 40-50k in debt and another 3-4 yrs from 150k+. While Wall St may not blink at paying a Harvard grad base 80-100k fresh out of undergrad, they are a fairly small component of the market and wouldn’t sway such a survey which points toward the bulk of the college hiring market. Most of those would put in 2-3 yrs and head off for an MBA anyway.


September 14th, 2010
9:00 am

Go Gators! (I graduated from there so clearly I’m partial)

And that’s a great point ‘mishap’ — my spouse attended ivy league, while I attended UF. And getting into the job market, we were both offered pretty much the same entry-level salaries. However, I had virtually no debt coming out of Gator land so it wasn’t an issue. Conversely, he was already tens of thousands in the hole, and it’s really been a struggle. We both do pretty well in corporate America, but even he has said that he’ll likely encourage our children to attend state schools like mom.

John Martino

September 14th, 2010
9:44 am

For the record Cornell is also a state School. It is unique that it is both a land grand and a private endowment institution

John Smith

September 14th, 2010
11:50 am

As a recruiter for a large, well-recognized bank in the Northeast, I couldn’t disagree with this article more. Moreover, I have to discount the author of original WSJ article for identifying Stanford as a member of the Ivy League…


September 14th, 2010
12:25 pm

John Smith,
They corrected it in the addendum at the bottom. Think the primary author is a Northwestern grad…maybe less familiar w/ the Ivy League.

As large as your bank is, it is unlikely to be heavily represented by the survey they used. By surveying execs, you get a very broad swath of the hiring picture. You won’t find situations where large groups of Ivy grads are picked up b/c they tend to be Wall St or management consulting companies which comprise a tiny number of hires. The Ivy’s have right at ~50,000 undergrad students between the 8 of them which is less than the #1 and #2 schools.

If you’re a big recruiter and you show up at Dartmouth which has ~4,000 undergrads so there are maybe 1,000 potential candidates. By the time you take out those headed for grad school and the wrong major, it’s a fairly tiny pool. Of course you wouldn’t know that if you look at the ranks of top investment banks and consulting firms.

Detail Oriented

September 14th, 2010
12:45 pm

I think this is misrepresented and not very well conveyed. 7/10 schools on that list are well-known engineering/technical schools. If you are a company that is hiring and you are looking for the best value, it is a no brainer to hire someone from a state school with the same engineering degree. There is no need to pay a premium for an ivy league grad with the same engineering degree and curriculum.
On the flip side, if you had gone to an ivy league school, you will traditionally be recruited into a very exclusive field, finance (ethics/morals aside)where the starting pay outpaces that of chemical or computer engineer (2 highest starting salary). Now, if you had received either engineering degree from an ivy league, you would have had the same starting salary as everyone else. On the other side, if you went to a state school, high finance is a hard field to break into. All in all, why limit your future? Of course, if you know you want to be an engineer at 18 years old, by all means, pick the cheapest option and graduate with as little debt as possible.

None sense!

September 14th, 2010
1:23 pm

Hasn’t anyone learn anything from Tom Cruiseand Risky Business?


September 14th, 2010
2:38 pm

I would guess they are often among the most prepared and well-rounded, period.


September 14th, 2010
3:10 pm

After reading this article I just can’t help but post this comment about my website that solves the college recruiting problem for students and employers. Http:// is a website where organizations can submit problems of any type (e.g. business, nonprofit, public administration, technology, engineering, legal, etc.) for college students to solve, either real problems or test problems. The organizations can receive multiple solutions from students from all over the world and then whittle through those solutions and just pick the top candidates to come in for an interview. This will save corporations hundreds of thousands of dollars in recruiting costs and it gives every college student in the world the opportunity to compete for jobs at top companies. Students and professors from most of the top schools in the U.S. and from several international schools are signed up and organizations are submitting problems. Thanks everyone for allowing me to post this unabashedly self-serving comment.

Destin Dawg

September 14th, 2010
3:36 pm

I’m from Indiana…. couldn’t get in Notre Dame out of high school (not a big deal to me)…. graduated from IU in Bloomington.. C+/B- average.. then lived in South Bend working and going to IU at South Bend for MBA…. several ND grads in the program.. I can just say… you do get a more well rounded education in a State school for less $$$ than private.. IMHO


September 14th, 2010
9:16 pm

Having been both a state school graduate for business and an ivy graduate in economics I would have to say the state school education isn’t so much more well rounded as it is much more focused on delivering the material corporations want their employees to have. When I went the Ivy in question couldn’t care less about what the corporations wanted and instead delivered a well rounded education. That said…hiring managers are eager to pick up recent Ivy graduates but definitely seem less keen on older ones.


September 15th, 2010
12:54 pm

Cornell is NOT “unique”, as stated in the comments, in being a land grant college. There remain over 70 land grant institutions. Their states designated them to recieve federal funding (proceeds from federal land grants)in exchange for teaching tech and ag.

CU Alum

September 15th, 2010
6:37 pm

This article is meaningless. You go to an Ivy League school for the better education, better connections, and better job possibilities out of college. The fact is that people who are successful in the Ivies don’t focus on getting corporate jobs; therefore, there is little point in GE showing up to the Harvard career fair, because most Harvard grads are headed to more than a $40-50k starting salary with little upside. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with this; it just means that there’s a reason you paid so much for your education.

When I graduated from Cornell, the investment banks were paying a $55k base + $10k signing bonus, and all-in pay of around $130-150k. This is rarely an option for a state school graduate without significant connections or amazing luck.


September 18th, 2010
9:22 am

Education is only one part of the equation when it comes to work and career. I don’t think if matters where you were educated, what matters is the passion and committment to your goals in life. Money is nice, but if you hate your job, it is little consolation. We can all live with a lot less and have a wonderful life. I have a State College degree and it was an excellent cheap education, it never entered my mind to attend an Ivy league school and accumulate 100k in loans, like everything else it is just a label.