A few things before I get started:
1) This is not a catch-all.
2) There isn’t really any science to back this up, more based on anecdotal observations.
3) I’m speaking more to graduate school experiences, though depending on location, the same can sometimes (often?) be said for faculty.
OK. We generally chose graduate school based on everything but the actual school. What I mean is that, it’s usually based on: 1) professor, 2) money, 3) program, 4) peers, 5) city, 6) school. When I say “school”, I mean so in a non-academic sense. For example, I went to the University of Pittsburgh for undergraduate. I LOVE Pitt. And while I got an amazing education there, that is not the #1 reason I went there. I love Pittsburgh, the urban setting of the campus, the programs, the athletics, the culture, etc. Notice all those things are what I’m defining as “school”. For graduate school I went to the University of Memphis. No, not University of Tennessee in Memphis, the University of Memphis. Unless you’re a basketball fan (or this year a football fan. #18 in the AP poll!!! WHAT?!), you likely know nothing about our humble R1 (that’s right). And frankly, I didn’t know anything about it either. I went to Memphis b/c: 1) professor, 2) facilities, 3) faculty. I hated the city. I was not keen on the south. I didn’t really make friends my first year. I left a sig other behind. So yes, I was not going to Memphis for Memphis. I was there to learn, publish, and get the hell out.
But I may have been too harsh. I completely understand having a greater attachment to your undergrad institution versus grad – much more goes into that decision outside the realm of academics. But if you think about it, we usually spend more time at our graduate institution.
Memphis has a great basketball program (minus that whole Calipari thing). Our local university radio station is a jazz station. We have a strong theatre program. We put these tigers around the city to show university pride. There is a strong grad culture that I probably would’ve enjoyed had I ever taken the opportunity to engage. And sure, at the time Memphis football wasn’t so great (WE’RE #18!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), the games were still a blast. I mean, we do play at Liberty Bowl Stadium. And even though Memphis was largely a commuter school, which was a little weird considering its size, there was still a sense of community.
I will always love Pitt more than Memphis (and likely love Pittsburgh more than any other city), but as academics (or recovering academics), maybe we should treat our graduate institutions with a little more respect. Sure, we’re there to learn, but we can also take pride in knowing that we will someday be alumni (unless it’s WVU, nothing personal…).