This isn’t a top-tier problem. It’s an Ivy problem. It’s not even on the same level – and that’s not meant as arrogance about the quality of education, community, etc.
Ivy League schools are an INSTANT SHORTHAND FOR ELITISM. Hollywood just doesn’t make movies where the slimy rich bastard you’re supposed to hate went to UC Berkeley. People in Iowa just wouldn’t get the joke.
Good Will Hunting wouldn’t work if you swapped out MIT with Stanford, because once you leave the Stanford campus, you’re not deciding between the crackhouse gangsterism of Cambridgeport or the green-beer-fueled Leprechaunarchy of Boston… You’re deciding between getting run over by pre-owned Beemers on University Ave, or brand new Teslas on Sand Hill Road.
Random guy on the street in Jakarta knows Harvard and Yale. Doesn’t know Vanderbilt, UW Madison, Wharton, etc. Just the facts.
Simply put, if you’re not talking about an Ivy, there’s nothing wrong with naming the school, ever. Put those fears to rest.
But, if you are cursed with “old brick” on the resumé, then it does occasionally pay to think twice, and check the guy who’s asking to see if he’s waving a sock full of pennies – or even just a homely Midwestern misconception of how much you must be like Tom Hanks in Volunteers – before answering anything other than “a little town in Connecticut that used to the world capital of ball point pens before the Internet happened.”
This answer originally appeared on Quora: For those who went to top-tier schools, is it more rude to answer directly when asked what school you attended, or to instead name the city where the school is located? Why?