Unfortunately, her friends who are going away are putting the local university down, wondering why anyone would even consider getting an education there.
After having gone through several degree programs myself and having labored at several colleges and universities, I can tell you why, and I will list them, as I like to do, so that you can print the list up and put it on your fridge, your folder, your car, or my personal favorite, your ass.
- Large universities, particularly prestigious ones, have not been proven to provide any better of an education than smaller schools. The reason you go to these places is name recognition. Believe it or not, that is what your tuition dollars are paying for. Not a better education.
- In smaller schools, you generally learn from a faculty member with a PhD, where as in larger schools, you will learn from a graduate student who is being directed by a professor whom you may or may not see. Ever. So you will be learning from a person who learned the material a few years before you did.
- The most valuable thing you will get out of your college education is your sense of self. Being able to be bold, curious, take risks, and really find yourself is much easier at a smaller school where the rules and expectations are not steeped in a tradition of patriarchal bullshit. You do not need to go to a Big Ten school to find yourself. You don't even need to go to college at all, for that matter.
- As with most things, you get out what you put into an education. Generally speaking, curricula are the same at most schools. You will not find a great deal of differentiation among colleges where a finite set of information is taught. So it is very possible to go to Harvard, MIT, or any number of Ivy League schools and get very little out of it but the diploma your parents have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for.
- After you get out of college, the only people who really care about what school you went to are the people who went to the same school. That is how much this matters...which is to say, very, very little.
The young people who disparage the schools they are not going to do not have the foresight or the experience to know what they are talking about and in reality, are most likely parroting what they hear their parents saying, which again, is hardly pertinent to your future. Sometimes, people with children have an unreasonable level of anxiety over which college their kids will go to, what that says about their child, and in extension, what that says about themselves. Sadly, these kids are just voicing the misplaced anxieties of their parents and freaking you out in the process.
It matters little which school you enter if you are prepared to squeeze every drop of an education out of it that you can. If you are an engaged learner, committed to yourself and your education, you will succeed no matter where you go.
Do not let these anxious, ill-advised voices become the voices in your head. The voices in your head should ALWAYS be supportive, compassionate, and inspiring for you. Do not believe the hype. It is created to force you into making a choice that is not in your best interest. It is geared toward scaring you into making a bad decision about your future. Remember that; it is YOUR future. You have the right to go anyplace you choose, for whatever reason you choose it. Do what's right for you and don't worry about the anxious voices of others. It is their anxiety. Let them keep it.
I can tell you from experience; in ten years, no one will care which college you attended, and on your death bed, you will not regret your choice, if it was indeed yours.
Go to school, learn shit, and then go live your life. It is what a lot of the rest of us did, and we turned out okay.