The most frequently asked question about higher education is “How can I get into Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford?” Here are Three Truths about top universities that you should consider before setting your sights on one of the giants.
Truth#1 The professors upon whom the reputation of these institutions is built and continues to grow are known for developing new knowledge and wisdom rather than their classroom performance. Primarily, they teach graduate students and rarely interact with undergrads. Most teach because it is required of them to keep the funds for research and publication flowing. While some professors are born to share what they know in a classroom, many aren’t as good at teaching as your high school math teacher; others resent the time they are forced to spend away from their real passion.
Truth #2 Employers are interested in how you will serve the mission of the company and improve the bottom line. Candidates show that by the quality of their internships and the work they have produced for their internship hosts. Having a degree from a prestigious university may get you a first interview but the name of the granting institution alone isn’t going to get you beyond first base. After your first job, with very few exceptions, employers or hiring managers aren’t going to care where your degree comes from: they only want to see your accomplishments in previous positions.
Truth #3 If you really, really, really, want a degree from a top tier university, do your undergraduate work anywhere you can succeed, stretch yourself, acquire good training, find opportunities and create networks. Apply to Harvard, et al, for your terminal degree* where you will have access to fine minds and collaboration with renowned professors. Many of the graduate schools of the universities on your wish list don’t admit their own undergrads, preferring to bring in different perspectives among the graduate school students. A terminal degree from Harvard or Stanford is far more impressive and the effect lasts a whole lot longer than a BA or BS from either one.
*A terminal degree is the highest degree awarded in a field of study or practice. JD in law; PsyD or PhD in psychology; PhD in biology; MD or DO in medicine, are examples.
Are you wondering which universities excel in teaching undergraduates in your field? Text or call Stephanie 610-212-6679.
This article also appeared on LinkedIn Pulse 5/13/16