Jan Kubr

Posts Tagged ‘colleges’

A link visited: News from the Front by Paul Graham

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2008 at 13:29

Paul Graham in News from the Front:

Practically everyone thinks that someone who went to MIT or Harvard or Stanford must be smart. Even people who hate you for it believe it.

But when you think about what it means to have gone to an elite college, how could this be true? We’re talking about a decision made by admissions officers—basically, HR people—based on a cursory examination of a huge pile of depressingly similar applications submitted by seventeen year olds. And what do they have to go on? An easily gamed standardized test; a short essay telling you what the kid thinks you want to hear; an interview with a random alum; a high school record that’s largely an index of obedience.

In addition to the power of the brand name, graduates of elite colleges have two critical qualities that plug right into the way large organizations work. They’re good at doing what they’re asked, since that’s what it takes to please the adults who judge you at seventeen. And having been to an elite college makes them more confident.

Back in the days when people might spend their whole career at one big company, these qualities must have been very valuable. Graduates of elite colleges would have been capable, yet amenable to authority. And since individual performance is so hard to measure in large organizations, their own confidence would have been the starting point for their reputation.

Things are very different in the new world of startups. We couldn’t save someone from the market’s judgment even if we wanted to. And being charming and confident counts for nothing with users. All users care about is whether you make something they like. If you don’t, you’re dead.” 

I graduated from pretty much the best Computer Science college around here, so I can’t be accused for being jealous. I learned a ton there, especially during the first three years, and had the chance to meet super bright people. However, I can’t help but think that having a university degree shows to a large extent that the graduate is mainly capable of.. obeying.

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