Similarly, credentials indicate that a candidate has conaistently passed more screening processes over a long duration of time than a company could practically present to the candidate. Consider that nobody is born into Yale (contrary to popular belief, and any exceptions to this are in the minority). To get to Yale, you effectively must pass through a fifteen year funnel. No company can match that kind of screening rigor, so why not leverage it? From a company's point of view, it would be dumb not to. (Also, think about it this way -- if you are a high school senior with a choice of any school, and therefore one of the smartest in your class, will you choose Yale or a state school? I parenthesized this because it's a straw man argument, but do consider that financial barriers to the Ivy League are basically non-existent nowadays.) Yes, you can get qualified candidates from other schools. But your chances of getting a "lemon" candidate from Yale are, I presume, much lower than getting one from another school. You know that at the very least the candidate is capable of learning quickly on the job. In many industries, especially those where most domain knowledge comes from real world experience, like finance and consulting, the ability to learn quickly is a candidates most valuable asset. If every candidate will arrive at the company with a "blank slate"of knowledge and experience, why not recruit the ones who can fill up their slate the best? This is why finance companies recruit history majors, for instance. They know that success in a liberal arts education demonstrates an ability to learn quickly (not to mention strong writing skills).
I know many people on here are anti-liberal arts or anti-Ivy favoritism. Those arguments, especially the latter, have obvious validity. But I hope this post will cause you to consider the other side of the argument.
Disclaimer: I go to Yale. I realize we are extremely spoiled in the job market, but I also do not necessarily think it's undeserved. It's unfortunate that other people suffer, but I do not feel like we are disproportionately favored. I think a VERY high majority of Yale students are top 1% job candidates. Everybody gets in here for a reason.
Sure, you're smart, but America is full of people much smarter than you who didn't even finish high school. The "fifteen year funnel" is a filter primarily of socioeconomic status and only secondarily of ability. Most people fall out of that funnel through no fault of their own, because they didn't catch the breaks that you did.
That's the fundamental failing of a meritocracy - unless you take steps to ensure equality of opportunity, you just end up with an oligarchy.
We're an intelligent lot, certainly. And certainly there are many others who are much more intelligent than us. But Yale does not exist to serve the world. Yale is not a public service. Yale is exclusive by design. You don't get here by being intelligent, but by the same token, being here does not mean we're more intelligent than you (in the plural sense). The fifteen year funnel notion that the other person described is, in fact, much more a filter of ability, grit, and exceptional achievement than you could ever dream of. A minority of students here come from the sort of Gatsby-ish background that popular myth suggests. There are students here who may not be the most intelligent in the world (certainly, not all of us are MENSA members), but they are, for the most part, people who have proved time and again their exceptional qualities. There is a reason this institution has been an incubator for leaders around the world.
Yale is not a meritocracy. Yale is one among a few institutions that have carefully cultivated the ability to choose from an exceptional pool of human beings each year. If you point out the issue of legacy admits, I'd ask: why not? Why not give back to those who have given to Yale? I don't simply mean monetary contributions, though certainly I would wish to signal appreciation of someone who has endowed a chair, a library, or has done something to grow Yale as an institution. But, in general, if someone has reflected well on Yale, then I believe it is worth nurturing that relationship. So, yes, not all legacy admits are evil.
The world is not equal, and equality is not a given. We will never be equal, as long as scarcity exists. But instead of whining about how "all Yale students are privileged" and thereby exposing your own prejudices and jaundiced perceptions, why not make the best of your circumstances, much as we have of ours?
Because statistically, this is nearly always the case.
>And I'm willing to bet there are numerous students who came from high schools like the ones you describe.
I'd be surprised if there is even one student from the kind of school the GP describes. Even if you find one, you've found an anecdote. An exception that proves the rule.
> There is a reason this institution has been an incubator for leaders around the world.
And right here is where your argument flies out the window. "Leaders around the world" are usually not better than anyone else, often worse. They're simply better connected. Which, incidentally, is what is being pointed out.
I know you really want to believe it was grit, determination, and something extra that everyone else doesn't have that got you where you are but it was actually privilege. If you had been born to the wrong family all the "grit" you think you have wouldn't have gained you anything.
You may be surprised to see "even one student" from the 'wrong' sides of the city, the 'wrong' skin of colour, the 'wrong' nationality, or the 'wrong' religion. Get here and get your mind exploded, then. Or learn to accept that you are clinging (futilely) to popular misconceptions and that Yale, like most other "elite" institutions, is a home to all kinds of people. Privilege may have gotten some of them in, but it sure as hell is not the norm.
As for your final claims: You wish to imply that leaders in various fields got there solely by leveraging connections. I am pointing out that leveraging connections is by no means disproportionally represented. Leveraging connections is an incredibly useful skill, and of course it has its place. What I am pointing out is that for most undergraduates who ever got here, connections didn't exactly play a big role. Yes, the people here probably have a lot more grit, determination, and "something extra" that most of you don't. Some of us are here thanks to family connections, sure. Now go find out just how many students Yale (for example) has graduated in its entire history, and compare that with the number of legacy admits. Or compare that with the number of admits for whom a plausible case of "connections" may be argued. I can assure you that it won't be a pretty picture for your case.
I'll reiterate what I've said before. Most of you are using popular misconceptions to make straw-man arguments. Most of us here are not from "connected" families, and most of us are here not because of some mythical privilege. The sort of logic you people are using would make the mere fact that you can go to the corner store and buy a pack of bread a "privilege." Privilege is relative. Most of us got here because, yes, we did a few things more and were a little better at some things than a lot of other people.
No reason to whine about it.
No one likes a person telling them that he/she is better then them. Especially when that's clearly not the case.
Oh no doubt.
But consider the criteria for getting into any top-tier school: teenage academic performance and extracurricular participation between the ages of 14 and 17.
And while top-tier schools are demanding and hold you to higher standards, they're not SEAL school meat-grinders. Your school, and several other Ivies, have a graduation rate in the high 90's... and something tells me those 2-6% who don't make it aren't dropping because it's too hard.
Ultimately, your prowess on the job market is tied to your conduct as a teenager. That's weird, but I guess that's how things work.
Been trying to find my way through the start up world in NYC for about a year (coming from the midwest), meeting amazing people and experiencing things with a perspective many would even be afraid to try because of fears that are so far removed from things like death. I haven't "made it" yet (not sure if I will ever feel like I will no matter what I do), but I am far from being spoiled (I've been sleeping on a couch for over a year, doing occasional freelance work, and helping out with friends projects, meeting founders of start ups, sitting in on university classess), have a good beachhead, content with where I am and what direction I am moving in.
Thankfully, "Ivy League" is a foreign concept in my part of the world.
do consider that financial barriers to the Ivy League are basically non-existent nowadays
For middle-class families, that is categorically false.
I'm sure there is a correlation, but I disagree that it is a causation. Much of the correlation is probably the result of early-life educational advantages for stronger socioeconomic families. That's an unfortunate correlation indicative of a larger social problem, but not indicative of admission to Yale depending on income, as you seem to be implying. The two just unfortunately correlate.
Not sure where you got causation from that statement. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if Yale "means" to discriminate against poor people, but the fact is that if you are poor, you are far less likely to experience a childhood and academic life that will do well against the Yale admission requirements.
The point is that regardless of the merits of a Yale degree, it doesn't really come close to measuring, "will this person be good at this job?" Signaling is a shortcut, something you do because you don't have time or energy to measure something more directly aligned with what you need. It's not wrong, just a blunt instrument. Yale will graduate tons of dud candidates, and far lesser schools will graduate hoards of great ones, even if they do so at a lower rate. So the question is, can we create a more precise tool for measuring what we actually want to measure? We should certainly be trying. A Yale education might be well correlated to, say, the ability to learn quickly, but a good test for the ability to learn quickly would be even better correlated. If the talents that got you into Yale, not to mention the stellar education you got there, cause you do better in those measurements, then good for you! (None of that is to say this particular company is successful at this measurement, BTW.)
Another thing that went unstated in the article is value. Yale (and MIT) grads are expensive! Penn State grads, relatively speaking, are not, which creates a huge incentive to find the good ones and hire them instead. So at the very least, you should agree there's a big opportunity in a more precise tool for separating the chaff from the wheat, even if you think all the Yale wheat is pre-husked.
And yet most of the global industries of today were formed by people with little or no formal education (Carnegie and steel, for one). And then ruined by those who have had it.
I'll grant that, but how much of the 1% pool do Yale students make up? Are employers missing the other 99 top 1% candidates because "university name" != Ivy League?
Have people considered that "credentials and connections" are actually a valuable signaling mechanism? Connections (in the broadest sense of the word) indicate that a candidate is able to form strong personal relationships.
They don't care if you have strong personal relationships. They don't care how many close friends you have, if all of them are plebs. They only care if you have ties to the right kind of people.
Credentials and connections are a valuable signaling mechanism because having them most certainly does create value--knowing powerful and wealthy people is how you close the biggest of deals.
HN officially jumped the shark when some off hand comment becomes yahoo headline
Credentials, yes. There is some signal there, no doubt. There's no question that the average Yale or Harvard student is going to be better than the average X student for almost all values of X. Most people agree with this. The problem is more in society's attempts to enforce a total ordering. How would compare 75th percentile Penn State vs. 50th percentile Harvard? I actually have access to numbers on how strong students are across schools, and the 75th percentile Penn State student is a better bet. (Student quality-- work ethic plus capability-- in the Ivy League seems to be a N(1.70, 0.65) distribution by most measures; at the state flagships it's about N(1.35, 0.75), so you're comparing 1.85 vs. 1.70.)
Or, here's another question. Which has more positive signal? That Tom went to an Ivy League school? Or that Bob majored in math? The latter, actually. This is borne out, for one example, in LSAT performance. The average Ivy Leaguer scores about 160-163. The average math major scores 165-166.
Connections? No, not really meritocratic at all, because there are social connections and then there's Connections. The kind you work for aren't that powerful. The kind you're born with open doors that are closed to almost everyone else (e.g. getting VC funding without having to take risks with personal finances that only 25-year-olds can afford). Connections are powerful in inverse proportion to the amount of work involved in scoring them. That's what you're missing in that analysis.