Thursday, January 13, 2011
Chronicle of Higher Education, Brown and Cornell are Second Tier
If you want to get a job at the very best law firm, investment bank, or consultancy, here’s what you do:
1. Go to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or (maybe) Stanford. If you’re a business student, attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania will work, too, but don’t show up with a diploma from Dartmouth or MIT. No one cares about those places. ... That’s the upshot of an enlightening/depressing study about the ridiculously narrow-minded people who make hiring decisions at the aforementioned elite companies. ... These firms pour resources into recruiting students from “target schools” (i.e., Harvard, Yale, Princeton) and then more or less ignore everybody else. Here’s a manager from a top investment bank describing what happens to the resume of someone who went to, say, Rutgers: “I’m just being really honest, it pretty much goes into a black hole.”
Lauren Rivera (Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management), Ivies, Extracurriculars, and Exclusion: Credentialism in Elite Labor Markets, in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility:
Although a robust literature in sociology and economics has demonstrated a positive relationship between education and socio-economic attainment, the processes through which formal schooling yields enhanced economic rewards remains less clear. Employers play a crucial role in explaining the economic and social returns to formal schooling. Yet, little is known about how employers, particularly elite employers, use and interpret educational credentials in real-life hiring decisions. In the following article, I analyze how hiring agents in top-tier professional service firms use education to recruit, assess, and select new hires. I find that educational credentials were the most common criteria employers used to solicit and screen resumes. However, it was not the content of education that elite employers valued but rather its prestige. Employers privileged candidates who possessed a super-elite (e.g., top 5) university affiliation and attributed superior cognitive, cultural, and moral qualities to candidates who had been admitted to such an institution, regardless of their actual performance once there. However, attendance at a super-elite university was insufficient for success in resume screens. Importing the logic of elite university admissions, firms performed a secondary resume screen on the status and intensity of candidates’ extracurricular accomplishments and leisure pursuits. I discuss these findings in terms of the changing nature of credentialism and stratification in higher education to suggest that participation in formalized extracurricular activities has become a new credential of moral character that has monetary conversion value in labor markets.