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Monday, February 07, 2011

Graduate Degrees and Ivy League Pedigrees Are Highly Over-Rated

Just because he has an MBA from Harvard doesn't mean that guy in the next cubicle knows more. So when are managers going to wise up and stop valuing credentials more than knowledge?

Graduate Degrees and Ivy League Pedigrees Are Highly Over-Rated

5 comments:

Crying Silently said...

I don't think managers are necessarily going to stop valuing credentials over knowledge because someone with the right credentials i.e. a Masters degree, it shows their discipline, dedication, and hardwork in their field of study. Obtaining a graduate degree is hard for some folks and once obtained it definitely sets you apart from the rest especially in a field such as HR. HR is a field that is pretty tough to break into without any experience so getting a Masters along with my PHR designation for me was a way to set myself apart. Plus now that I have the experience to go along with that, I've become even more valuable to managers. Again, these are just my thoughts. Check out my blog @ http://slientcriesofhr.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

School credentials have been extremely important to my family in this economic downturn. I have relatives, both Ivy League undergrads with MBAs from Stanford, who haven't missed a beat getting high-profile jobs and high-paying promotions since graduating during the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. It's like they have no clue that the job market is terrible.

Film Co. Lawyer said...

Speaking for the entertainment field, no one has EVER rejected me in favor of some Ivy Leaguer for legal work (and likely never will since I'm that well liked). In fact, no legal client has ever asked where I went to law school. Furthermore, someone I worked with at my school's legal clinic once told me that the local courts in New Haven wouldn't hire Yale students due to perceived Ivy League entitlement issues.

Where you went to school in my field has NOTHING whatsoever to do with your abilities as a lawyer. In fact, the Ivy Leaguers tend to be worse since they think going to an Ivy means they don't have to put in any real effort. There's also concerns among some sects with the sheltered experiences of Ivy Leaguers & again, entitlement issues.

It's been my experience that if you're in a field where personality is king (such as entertainment) or you're working with middle class or lower class people (legal clinics, small/mid-sized firms, courthouses), you'll have to overcome nasty stereotypes to get ahead. If the first statement out of your mouth is "I went to Harvard," I immediately think "self-important creep who thinks he's God" & I'm not alone. If I'm hiring people for things, I look at experience & that you didn't get a degree from Clown Law School.

The big law firms picking all hires from the Ivy League have many complaints about entitlement issues from this crowd & have lost out in court to better outfits who didn't have Ivy League training.

This debate on Ivy League degrees has been going on in the legal field for decades & from what I know, you're likely to learn fewer practical skills at Yale than a lower tier school. I know for a fact Yale doesn't even require Evidence, a basic legal course.

Anonymous said...

Never. Graduating from a school with highly valued name cachet is a useful weeding out tool for managers who don't want to work with people who aren't like them, and who would make them "uncomfortable." It says you are a non-idiot (mostly) who came from a rich family or were able to position yourself to get into such a university, which means that you probably didn't grow up poor or non-white (There are always outliers, who test well. But then again testing is closely correlated to how wealthy the zip code you grew up in is and most zip codes aren't well integrated.) The halo effect of competence with those degrees is also extremely useful in making people seem better at their job then they are. Plus there are only so many, and it is easier to scan for those on a resume than to read them or the cover letters. I've had people outright tell me that as soon as they see resumes that list certain institutions under education (community colleges, state colleges) they don't bother to read the resume or cover letter and just chuck it in the garbage.

Class factotum said...

My former employer deliberately recruited at state schools, looking for people who were the first in their family to go to college. The theory was they could find some really bright, dedicated people who would work their butts off.

But they weren't immune to that halo effect. There was one Harvard MBA in the corporate office where I worked and the attitude was that he had hung the moon. They put him in development assignments where his success was pretty much guaranteed. It was very obvious that he was on the VP track, with the wheels being greased from above. Not that he was undeserving - he was bright - but there were plenty of other people who were just as bright but without his background.