Alma Mater

Updated on May 09, 2011
S.P. asks from Chicago, IL
19 answers

I have a friend who attended the same university I did, but for a one-year night school graduate program. She refers to the school as her "alma mater." I know this seems petty, but I think this implies that she went to this (somewhat prestigious) school for four years, when in fact she went to a school that's relatively non-competitive. I realize a graduate degree is impressive, and of course I've never said anything to her. So am I just being petty?

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answers from New York on

Yes, this is incredibly petty. She has an MBA from a highly competetive university... this carries extreme weight and shouldn't be minimized b/c she accommplished this goal over an extended period of time. She didn't walk through the doors without effort and must have worked her tail off as an undergrad to get in.

Shame on you- very petty, small-minded and elitist. I claim alum status from The College of William & Mary which is also very difficult to get into, especially out-of-state b/c I have two graduate degrees from there... did I work less than the undergrad? I promise you... we both studied and worked to have essentially the SAME piece of paper framed on the wall.

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answers from Memphis on

Don't feel bad for asking-- that's what these forums are for! That said, I agree with the others. Could it even be possible that she's trying not to 'trump' you by saying "I got my MBA there," knowing that you have a bachelor's? I have a doctorate degree, while my partner here at work has her Master's. Unless asked directly by someone, I don't make the distinction. I just say, "We both went to XXX University."

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answers from Dover on

Yes, you sound very petty, insecure, and also not very nice. I'm curious why you believe that your Bachelor's degree carried more weight than her Master's from the same school...? First time I've ever heard that one.

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answers from Boston on

OK you really think that a bachelor's degree from your "esteemed" alma mater is more prestigious than an MBA? On what planet? No one cares where you went for undergrad. She is probably worried that saying "oh that's where I got my MBA" sounds pretentious, so she doesn't bother to specify that she has an advanced degree. Please get over yourself.

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answers from Denver on

I believe you both have something to be proud of, for different reasons. You were a young college student and achieved your goal of getting a degree. Congratulations! Your friend went to school at night over many years and achieved her goal of getting her advanced degree. Congratulations to her!

For you to denigrate a student going back to school at a later age (and quite possibly she had a family to care for, or a daytime job to manage as well) is more than petty. It doesn't diminish her accomplishments, it diminishes you.

She has a more advanced degree than you do, and from the same school, after all. Of course it's her alma mater! I think that for her to be accepted as a master's degree candidate shows that she is held in high esteem by the college. You both got accepted. You got accepted for a general bachelor's degree. She got accepted for a specialized master's degree.

The problem lies within yourself. Your attitude shows a real weakness on your part, in my opinion. Why be threatened by her? Why would you assume that broad studies are "more impressive" than a dedicated master's degree? You said it yourself. Insecure. I think that this has nothing to do with who got a degree from where. There's a lot more to your jealousy of her.

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answers from Washington DC on

She stuck with over four years of night school, probably while holding down a job and/or tending a family or at least coping with what folks in their 40s cope with -- bills, obligations, things pulling them a lot of different ways.

You attended full-time during bachelor's degree years -- I'm assuming, 18 to about 22. Were you also holding down a full-time job and/or tending a family during those years? Were you distracted by career-based work or by kids or by running a household?

She is more impressive to me. She could easily have given up and not gotten that MBA at all. She could have gone to someplace that was not "a highly competitive/esteemed university" and had an easier time getting that degree.

She's as much an alumna as you are. She earned a degree there; so she is an alumna. And she did it at a time in her life when she likely had many more conflicts with her class schedule, and many more responsibilities than full-time undergraduates have, unless those undergrads also happen to be fully responsible for their own entire tuition, 100 percent of all other expenses, and a family and job as well.

Please show her the respect she deserves.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Hi S.-

I am sure that your friend had to take the GRE...GMAT...or some other entrance test to get 'matriculated' into their grad program...

In my opinion...a masters degree generally 'trumps' a bachelors degree no matter how it was achieved (ie...part night).

I say relax...let it go...

Or go get your masters...

Just my thinking...

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answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, this is VERY petty. How is it "more impressive" that you got your bachelors degree there beginning at age 18 and doing 4 years of studies than going to night school over 4-5 years (what dedication!) while in her 40's? Unless you've been in her shoes, you have no idea how difficult it was for her. Being a young wife and mother, I attended an online bachelor's degree program. I worked for 3 years to obtain my Bachelor's in Accounting. It was so much harder than my time spent at a college when I was younger because I didn't have dedicated time allotted for studies. I had to make time, lose sleep, have different priorities, and work around my job and children to get my degree.
I don't mean to sound harsh, and maybe this is a little too personal to me. But it also sounds like you believe that if you don't do "traditional" route when obtaining a degree then it isn't "impressive." She is alum to this school. She paid tuition, she studied, she received grades, and she received a degree from the institution same as you. She probably worked harder, was much more appreciative of the education she was receiving, than if she was a "traditional" graduate.

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answers from Dallas on

Sounds a bit petty to me.

Even people who go for MBA at a well respected school (or any school for that matter) has to be accepted.

My hubby is a prime example.... he got an undergrad at Penn State, played golf for them on scholarship 4 yrs, well respected athlete and has been honored at the school.

He got his MBA at least 10+ yrs later when the timing was right at Duke. Duke does not let anyone who feels like it join the program... you earn your right to go there.

Both schools are excellent and yes. BOTH are his alma mater because he worked his a$$ off at both schools to excel.

Your friend also had to work hard to excel in the program she was in at your prestigious school and deserves recognition as well.

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answers from Phoenix on

yes it seems petty.

She was accepted and attend the same school, not to mention MBA trumps BA anyways. I can't imagine not being proud of a friend for getting her MBA and accepting her as the scheme of things does this really matter?

**Added: i find it interesting that you removed your question. This is a forum for any kind of question. You asked for opinions on a matter and you got them. In reading it seems that most everyone was reasonable about it and not bashing you per se.

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answers from Seattle on

You DO know that classes held at night are taught by the same professors with the same curricula, and the same degree requirements, as classes taught at 7am right? Ditto the 2pm classes are the same at the 7am classes. Also that entrance into a competitive program is the same for ALL applicants (gpa, essays, interviews, brag sheets, life experience, etc.), although the higher the degree (MA/MS, Phd) the rougher the entrance competition?

Is it more IMPRESSIVE from an academic standpoint to get a double degree in 3 years than a single degree in 4? Yes. Just like suma cum laude is more impressive than magna cum laude, or no honors at all. Just like top 3 is more impressive than top 3 percent. Just like graduating at 16 is more impressive than graduating at 22.

But how impressive one's academic performance is completely and totally irrelevant to one's alumna status. Everyone who graduates forms that school's alumnae. Whether it's a simple bachelors or post grad work... when one graduates from a University or College regardless of the school (Medicine or Underwater Basket Weaving).

She's an alumnus of your school.

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answers from Washington DC on

Yes, you are being petty. Not everyone's life experience allows them to finish college in 4 years.

In my long 10y college career, I attened 5 colleges, most for only a year, as I lost scholarship, or changed major, etc. and ended up getting my Bachelor's from Strayer University through night classes while working full time. All of the schools and colleges that I attended, even tho for just 2 semesters, consider me an official alumni. Also, because my transfer credits didn't count towards my GPA, I was able to finally graduate 'Magna Cum Laude'. My mom says that this isn't as good as my cousin or sister that did it at one college within 4 years. I say that it does count, because its printed on my diploma!


As for her getting her MBA through night classes, that is the typical route.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes, I believe it is your own unique and insecure view.

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answers from Gainesville on

Really? This is petty and silly. You both are Alumae from this school becasue you both graduated from there..

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answers from Dallas on

She earned her MBA, and that is impressive to many people. I think if she wants to call it her alma mater then she should. She is proud of her accomplishments. Do you say, Oh I received my Bachelors degree from there?

I think you are being a little sensitive. Just my opinion.

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answers from Austin on

Anyone that has attended different colleges and graduated with any sort of degree from those colleges ARE Alumni.. to each of the colleges.

If you look it up in the dictionary, they even state if you attended the college you are an alumni.

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answers from Orlando on

Are you thinking of saying something to her? If so I would ask myself the question "What will I accomplish by saying anything to her?".

Myself... I would let it go.

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answers from Chicago on

Curious...what university? Some masters programs can have more competitive admissions than undergrad programs. Take Yale law or Harvard med, for instance.

Either way, it shouldn't matter what your friend says in regards to her alma mater. If she has some sort of established pattern over time of distorting or embellishing her life story... then sure, that could become annoying. But, I wouldn't stress this. Be proud of your own accomplishments, and let that be that.

Take care,

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answers from Norfolk on

According to the dictionary:
Alumni: (n) - a graduate or former student of a specific school, college, or university.
Alma mater: (n) - a school, college, or university at which one has studied and, usually, from which one has graduated.

I suppose a student who drops out before earning a degree could also be an alumni although I think most people would say achieving the degree would be the deciding factor (no matter whether it was full time, part time or night school). So I would say your friend is an alumni.
A degree earned through night school is identical to a degree earned through day school - there is no difference in how they are printed at all.
(I have a BS in Information Systems Mgmt.)

I'm sure you must have heard this old one:
A BS (Bachelor of Science) = Bull Sh*t.
A MS (Master of Science) = More Sh*t.
A PhD = Piled Higher and Deeper.

To me, a degree (any degree) is worth it if it gets you hired or gets you more money in the paycheck over someone who does not have a degree.

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