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Success Despite College Rejection

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the i-think-i-can dept.

Education 436

selan writes "Are those who are rejected by prestigious schools destined to lead mediocre lives? Or are great people more likely to succeed if they were rejected by top universities? An inspirational column in the Washington Post discusses the "Spielberg Effect", a theory that it really doesn't matter where you went to school."

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FIRST POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993235)


for my PhD... (4, Insightful) (562495) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993239)

I would go to the best college, that I can afford to go to. I dont think UnderGraduate studies matter that much. It is for the higher degrees that you need to go to the prestigeous institutions....

Re:for my PhD... (3, Interesting)

MonkeyBoyo (630427) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993302)

But you have a much better chance of getting into a top graduate school comming from a top undergraduate one. And this is just not snob factor. You are more likely to find professors who can tell you what the leading edge and issues are in your field there.

Re:for my PhD... (2, Insightful) (562495) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993317)

I personally think, that it is better if one gets some industry experience (2-3 years) after their undergraduate, before getting into any graduate program. If you have currently working in a industry, graduate schools look at your work experience, and not much at your Bachlors degree. Atleast that is the case for the technical/engineering program, I don't know about other fields.

Re:for my PhD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993340)

I barely got in anywhere for undergrad, went to a not very prestigious undergrad school, and then got in lots of places for grad school, including UC Berkeley here, which is top 10 in almost every department.

Re:for my PhD... (1)

chamenos (541447) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993350)

of course the college you go to doesn't matter. you don't even have to go to one to be successful. bill gates dropped out of the school and now he's one of the richest and most successful men in the world, in charge of the company leading today's information technology industry into the future, microsoft. truly a role model for us all.

six figure high school drop out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993393)

Who needs a PhD?

I went to a crappy school district and was fucked over when it came time for a real education. I got bored with the remedial quality teaching and not only didn't I go to college (I once had a teacher actually say "good luck - you won't even get a community college to accept you with this highschool on your record") but I didn't finish highschool either.

I dropped out after my freshman year with 7 credits to my name. Then I got my GED and have been making a six figure salary as a software engineer for the last eight years.

Re:for my PhD... (2, Insightful)

zer0vector (94679) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993459)

Being an undergrad applying now for grad schools, the best advice I've gotten is "Don't go somewhere because its a 'good' school, go there because they do what you're interested in". If those to things coincide thats great, but being miserable for a couple of years is not worth the price of a nice school name on your PhD.

Since (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993240)

it's coming up to the start of a new academic year I thought I'd take this opportunity to explain how lucky you Americans are to have a fraternity system.

English Universities are so dull by comparison. Like most students in England I had to rent private accommodation for my second and third years, but it never occurred to us to build a whole culture around collectively renting a rather dilapidated house in Clapham. It wasn't even single sex accommodation, so we couldn't engage in the fun and games of para-homosexual activities - Girls just don't have the same grip on your loyalties as your Greek brothers ;-). And while cliques certainly form in English Universities, the are all much too boring to come up with the idea of hazing. I fondly recall diving off a weir and almost drowning when I was 12 because everyone said I was chicken. If only it had been possible for me to gain respect in later life through similar tests, and if these tests could have been combined with pseudo Masonic rituals culminating in the awarding of a little badge, then that truly would have made my time at University worthwhile. And while I still have friends from University, these friendships seem so hollow compared to bonds of fraternal brotherhood since they are not based on solemn vows of fellowship, mutual sacrifice, group solidarity and owning the same poxy little badge.

Then there's sheer joy alcohol seems to bring fraternity members.. By the time I went to university the delights of getting dangerously drunk at parties had started to seem mundane. But to American students in fraternities, the bravado of excessive alcohol consumption is a an exciting new and illicit game where you can prove yourself worthy to all your male friends and simultaneously circumvent college alcohol policy - thereby proving what a rebel you are too. Gosh.

I am also rather fond of the references to ancient Greece. It reeks of a history far nobler and grander than anything a British University can instil its students with, and the wearing of togas must make it seem as authentic as a ploughman's lunch.

I think what I am trying to say is that Fraternities give young Americans the chance to grow up in their own time, and that it is regrettable that no similar opportunity is afforded to European Students. In particular, I find it sad that even some American students forego the opportunity to wear togas and claim to be Greek. Really this should be mandatory, so every graduate will be secure in the knowledge that they have gained something much more valuable than a degree from an American University - a little badge with some Greek letters on it.

Although I am not American, I admire the system so much that I would dearly love to become an honorary member of a fraternity. I have set my heart on becoming an alumni of Theta Omicron Sigma Sigma Epsilon Ro Sigma. I do so hope this is possible

Re:Since (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993246)

nice teeth, idiot.

Re:Since (2)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993280)

>nice teeth, idiot.

Yeah, because the inability to understand dry humour and getting upset about something which isn't an attack on your country but a criticism of something which happens there is a perfect excuse to be a racist! In case you're as simple as you sound, THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE WAS SARCASM.

Re:Since (1)

lvdrproject (626577) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993305)

Sadly, "British" isn't a race. Perhaps "nationalityist" or "countryist" fits here. :p

Re:Since (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993252)

That's stupid. Most fraternities are just a bunch of retarded jocks who aren't secure enough to live by themselves. They need to join a group of other retards who are also scared to be independent. Safety in numbers. Most college students in the US are not members of fraternities or sororities.

Re:Since (1)

yoey (247125) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993304)

Most college students in the US are not members of fraternities or sororities.

I guess most Americans are independent and secure. I guess we should all be like Thoreau [] .

Re:Since (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993564)


That's stupid. Most fraternities are just a bunch of retarded jocks who aren't secure enough to live by themselves.

Is is a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's sarcasm flying right over your head!


MOD PARENT UP enn tee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993258)

See subject.

Re:Since (2)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993281)

I went to manchester and I had a great time. I became an alcoholic and had lots of "para-homosexual" activities. I think it depends where you go. I think the point of throwing you out to the real world during your second and third years is to ensure you are prepared for life. Also it depends where you go. Where did you go to in "England" (prenounced UK).

It's the new year, and you are drunk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993375)

I think that about sums that one up.

Nomination for TOSSERship (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993455)

As a longtime TOSSER, I hereby nominate you, AC, for Theta Omicron membership. However, we require brothers to have long greasy hair, heavy glasses, poor oral hygiene, and appalling body odor. Nothing else meets our standards of excellence.

Re:Since (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993457)


That's funny yet makes the sarcasm too obvious..

Re:Since (3, Insightful)

Artifex (18308) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993466)

It wasn't even single sex accommodation, so we couldn't engage in the fun and games of para-homosexual activities
...which you dearly missed from your public school days, and the all-but-institutionalized homosexual relationships you forged with your cohort and masters. Only those privileged enough to attend Catholic school here are guaranteed the opportunity to get the benefit of that experience.

If your wicket's not already sticky in reverie, I have two more words taken from the British Boy's Own Lexicon: soggy biscuits, a treat seemingly unique to the cuisine of that northern island country of queens.

I'm not serious, of course - I love England, and we'll pretend I didn't wish I could have spent my formative years in boarding school there, myself. The point is, you're making (ethnic?) prejudicial slurs against "the Greeks", begging comparison back to your own quirky system. In the U.S., the partying buffoons are allowed to expose themselves, have a good time, burn out, and eventually become used-car dealers and fast-food restaurant managers; in yours, they seem rather more likely to become "captains of industry." That's only natural, since you've had a few hundred more years to build up the Old Boy (bedsheet) Network.

THIRD POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993241)


Just like... (-1)

CyanideHD (132907) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993257)

Bill Gates. Didn't he drop out of college? Look where he is now.

I also think that most of founders of fast food restaurants started out with hardly anything since most of them began during the Great Depression.

Thing like this make me wonder what colleges I should be applying to.

It's not (only) where you go to college... (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993265)

Many people see finishing collegue as the end of something, instead of a beginning. The difference is in how you apply the knowledge afterwards, and in how much one is willing to do to keep developing oneself.

I don't even think going at all is that important (5, Interesting)

mathe_an (580461) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993267)

I was brought up the traditional way fir a reasonably educated family in England. Led to believe that you go to school, college then university. It was never questioned and always assumed that this is the way it goes. If you want a good job, you go to uni. So I went and did it, at a decent uni too, came home and now, 3 years after leaving, I'm working in some crappy tech support job for peanuts. Meanwhile, the people I used to look at with pity that left school at 16 to take on some government youth training scheme have been working for almost 8 years. They've worked their way to a higher employment status than I'm at now. I assumed that since I had the degree I would quickly be able to progress past these and all the years of studying (well, partying) would become worthwhile, but I'm finding this isn't the case. To employers, I'm just another kid out of university like the thousands of others. The other kids though, the ones that left school? They're seen as valuable workers that have years of experience on the job. I don't regret going to uni, but occasionally I feel the bitterness rising :)

Re:I don't even think going at all is that importa (1)

videodriverguy (602232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993326)

Interesting comment - as an English guy (who never made it to uni bacause of family issues), the dependance on College in the USA is much stronger than in the UK. It's almost as if you are useless if you didn't go to college (even though people like Bill Gates seem to have done OK). To get my H1-B visa, they had two get to college professors to evaluate my 20+ years experience and equate it to a degree.

I think the big difference is that in the UK you begin to specialize at 16, if not before. That, within the US High School system, is almost impossible. So in the USA, at 18, you don't know much more that you did at 16.

Believe me, you'd be just one of the 'college kids' in the US (and a year older). The difference is they would know that, straight from High School, you're pretty much useless (excepting, of course, those smart enough to overcome that handicap).

Of course, in the current economy, many graduates are working at McDonalds, but that's another story.

Re:I don't even think going at all is that importa (2, Insightful)

sir_cello (634395) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993566)

You need to wait a few more years, and perhaps you need to more actively make value from your education. By the sounds of it, you're expecting the rest of the world to pay you back - life just doesn't work that way.

Take interest in professional associations, ensure that in your work assignments you make use of the skills you learnt (analytical, critical thinking, good judgement), retain connections with your peers in the industry from university, etc. Make better use of your education.

Studies show that after 5-10 years, university educated students catch up and surpass those that didn't go to university. University pays off eventually, but you have to make it work for you.

Tell us something we don't know... (1)

ContemporaryInsanity (583611) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993268)

From Obsession with academic exam results at the root of failed education policy Academic exam results are one of the poorest indicators of potential. Many of the world's most successful people left school with few, and sometimes no, qualifications. These include Albert Einstein (scientist), Soichira Honda (founder of Honda Motor Corporation), Ray Kroc (founder of MacDonalds), Pete Waterman (multi-millionaire record producer), Richard Branson (multimillionaire entrepreneur and inspiration), Philip Green (self-made millionaire businessman and CEO of BHS [British Home Stores]) etc. It could even be said that a surfeit of academic qualifications might condemn one to a life of mediocrity.

Re:Tell us something we don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993335)

You know what? Neither Bob who's currently living on the street have good academic results.

The few examples you give just doesn't change the fact that people who go to college generally make more money than those who don't (which seems to be your definition of being succesful).

Qualifications (5, Interesting)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993269)

I demonstrate at Manchester University and there are people I know would be better off if they went straight to a job. Some people are planning to be HTML writers and have no desire to learn about computer architecture. They are wasting 3 years of their life during which they could get vital experience of a real job. People coming out of university cant get jobs because emplyers think they will want to move onto something better very soon after.

Re:Qualifications (2, Insightful)

Peter Greenwood (211400) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993297)

Some people are planning to be HTML writers

OK, but what do they do when HTML becomes obsolete? I know it's a hackneyed point, but education really does - in my experience - broaden the mind. After a degree in physics (because that was what I found interesting) I got a job in electronics without too much problem. Others, with more vocational electronics qualifications, found it easier. Since then I have moved fairly easily into systems design and control systems; some people who (over-) specialised in electronics are now struggling.

Re:Qualifications (2)

Martigan80 (305400) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993307)

They are wasting 3 years of their life

First I would never consider an education a waste of time, but you do bring up a good point about what the job focus needs. At least in America businesses often require a degree and experience. Granted most of these job descriptions are used as deterrence rather than a true representation of what they really need. But to get a good job in the Technology industry it is an unwritten law that you need a degree. At least for some one whom is just writing a bit of HTML I would say should take at least associates in a related filed? Many people who teach them selves c++ with book don't know the true way to format or how and what to program. Nothing like a good school can teach you. Not going to college is kind of like playing a piano without ever learning how to read the sheet of music, or even the basics of music. You can get some great musicians, but they are few, and in our society would really ever make it that far just from the discriminations of people who have gone to college and have achieved a certain level in the job market.

Rigorous? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993273)

When it comes time for my kid(s) (whenever I have them!) to go to college, if they're anything like me I'll encourage them to go to a smaller, less prestigious school for at least the start of their undergraduate work.

From the experiences of myself and my wife, the primary difference between schools with "rigorous" academic programs and the rest is the professors in the "lesser" schools are more prone to actually *teach* the material, and to actually *care* that they're doing it right and their students understand. For example: I went to a pretty tough engineering school, and I had a hell of a time with Calc II. I took it (and dropped it) twice; for whatever reason it just didn't sink in. During the summer I took the same class at a local college, and I was astounded at how much fun learning a difficult subject could be when the professor actually knew how to teach. I got an A in that summer class, and the tests weren't any easier than before.

huh (3, Insightful)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993275)

I think you need to look at the definition of "succeed" in this instance. I'm betting that it will come from the same kind of place as all that "having a life" and "making the most of yourself" nonsense.

E.g. if you become the head of a medium-sized business selling widgets worldwide then you have "succeeded". Big Fucking Deal.

The point of life is to have fun. That's it.

I recommend not working. Why give most of your life to an unfeeling corporation ?

I also recommend not getting married. It always ends in tears.

Forget what society expects you to be. Ignore what your parents want you to be. Be what you want to be- for yourself and no-one else.


Re:huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993389)

Yeah, cos you've got your priorities right. Tin foil alert! :-)

Re:huh (5, Insightful)

dgb2n (85206) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993402)

Ok, I'll bite.

There's an old saying that if you want to be happy you need three things.

1. Something to do - Usually translates to some sort of job. You'll never be happy if you don't contribute to society and waste the gifts you've been given.

2. Someone to Love - Go ahead never take a risk because it ends in tears. Marriage also ends in tears of laughter. I've shed tears in my marriage but I can't imagine my life without her.

3. Something to look forward to - Without hope, life is pointless. You sound like you need something to look forward to.

A couple of more thoughts on your less salient points.

E.g. if you become the head of a medium-sized business selling widgets worldwide then you have "succeeded". Big Fucking Deal

I hate to break the news to you but the Big Fucking Deal of being the head of the medium-sized business isn't the glamorous challenge of selling widgets, its the lifestyle which such a position would afford you. It means a comfortable house, a car more enjoyable than a used Hyundai, and the resources to travel and enjoy a few vacations.

The point of life is to have fun. That's it.

If you think thats the entire point of life, you're missing the point. Perhaps the point is making a difference in the lives of others. That head of a business employs other people and in a small mundane way, probably makes the world a better place.

Having fun is much easier with a job. I enjoy skiing. Lift tickets cost money. I enjoy gadgets. Gadgets costs money. The irony is that if you make money your goal, you're doomed to unhappiness and you won't have any fun. A money centered or self centered life will guaranteee very little fun and very little joy.

I choose joy.

Re:huh (5, Interesting)

Gyan (6853) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993450)

First, mod parent up (#4993402)

Comment : The point of life is to have fun. That's it

Reply : If you think thats the entire point of life, you're missing the point

I kinda disagree. IMHO, there's no ordained point to life. You decide what the point of your life is (depending on your outlook). No obligation or duty is imposed on you to make any difference in anyone's life, even your own. But that's not going to work out very well.

Re:huh (3, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993514)

In other words, you have a crappy job, no prospects and women can't stand the sight of you.

Therefore, you define happiness as containing none of those things.

Boy, that sure is profound.

Re:huh (1)

Bamafan77 (565893) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993525)

"I recommend not working. Why give most of your life to an unfeeling corporation ? "
Then by implication, you recommend a life of pushing around a rusty shopping cart and picking up tin cans to supplement your meals down at the local church soup kitchen. ;)

I understand the spirit of your post, but let's not get TOO ridiculous here. Money is important and most of us have to work for somebody to get it (unless we choose the tin can recylcing route, which itself is really just another form of work when you think about it). It's kind of hard to "have fun" and to experience your definition of the point of life when you're dead broke.

Hmmm, let me guess. You're one of those trust fund babies I hear about all the time, aren't you? Know this, I don't hate you. I'm insanely jealous of you. :)

Re:huh (1, Flamebait)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993558)

No- actually I am living on state benefits while seeking work. Yes, I will soon lose my house and have to move back in with my parents, but I do have my time for myself.

I refuse to get a job and spend 40 hours a week working just so I have a house to collapse in at the end of the day. The ends, to me, do not justify the working my ass off.

And to the other poster who said I probably have nothing to look forward to- no hopes and dreams, well I do. I'm a programmer, I'm trying to improve my go skills (shodan is a goal therefore), and I'm learning Japanese.

The point is that I have lots of fun things to do that don't cost (much) money and if I worked I would have far less time to do them.

Things like programming open source projects, learning a language and especially improving at go need more time than a working person can afford to give to them in order to be worthwhile.

So, anyway, with the open source programming, teaching people below me go skills or just the rules I believe I am making a difference in people's lives.

Hope this clears up a few misconceptions.


does it matter at all? (5, Insightful)

trance9 (10504) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993278)

I've come to the conclusion that school doesn't matter at all except for three things:

1. You might learn something, but NOBODY will know that except you. If it helps you--great. Maybe you could have learned on the job or from a book too.

2. Some idiotic people require you to have a degree, but they don't care from where. There are a lot of these people, some of them will wield a great deal of power over your life.

3. You might make some friends. You friends might help you to get a job or some important break some day. If you go to an expensive school you might wind up with expensive friends who can get you an expensive break.

So going to a "good school" I think boils down to getting "expensive friends" and if you think that will be important to your career (obviously it would help Spielberg get his first film out) then maybe it's worth paying the $$$ and working your ass off to get in.

I've also heard that the programme at Harvard, etc., really isn't any more difficult than at other schools. The tough part is getting in.


It doesn't surprise me at all that there is little difference between going to a good university and going to a "bad" one. It wouldn't even surprise me much if someone wrote up a study showing that there wasn't a lot of difference between going to university and not going.

The same argument would work: maybe the kind of people who apply to universities are the "good people" who will succeed--and if they don't actually go to university they will still be good people who will succeed.

In my work experience (computer related) I found that my education was pretty critical getting the first one or maybe two jobs. After that people only cared about my experience--so whatever the value of an education is, it's short lived in my career. I can imagine it's the same everywhere.

Sour grapes (1)

Faeton (522316) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993282)

So said the fox who couldn't reach the grapes

hmm, reminds me of something neal stephenson wrote (3, Interesting)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993283)

in his novel the Diamond Age, namely that the people that end up having the most effect on society (in his writing, implicitly a good effect; this need not be the case imho) are the people that have "interesting childhoods". the idea being that only through leaving the beaten path, forging one's own path through the multivariate options of life, would one gain the skills and poise needed to make a difference later on.

i went to a place called TAMS (texas academy of mathematics and science; class of '96). basically your last two years of high school are your first two of college, so by the time you're 18 you've racked up 60 to 80 college credits (fully two thirds of my class were national merit scholars, we had five or six out of ~180 with perfect SAT scores, to give you a bit of an idea what the place was like). by any measure, this is the start of an interesting childhood... what strikes me as odd, perhaps proving mr. stephenson's theory, is that comparing the people I know who stayed in regular high school vs. the ex-TAMSters, the ex-TAMSters have a much larger deviation from "the beaten path"... Most of the folks I know from my old high school stayed pretty close to what they (or their parents, or society as a whole) expected their path to be. the TAMSters on the other hand, are all over the farkin' map. doctorates and dropouts, financiers and filmmakers... we're too young yet (24ish) to have had the time to make a big impact on society, but with backgrounds like these, i'm thinking something interesting is going to happen becuase of these folks

Teacher from HELL (1)

rgsmith (473418) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993284)

"The teacher had told the colleges...he did not have the intellectual capacity to flourish at such schools. He was not Ivy League material."

Someone PLEASE tell me this S.O.B. has (or will be) sued out of his pension for this.

Re:Teacher from HELL (4, Insightful)

MattW (97290) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993301)

Why should he be? Is there some requirement to always write glowing recommendations when describing students to colleges?

Re:Teacher from HELL (2)

Letch (551512) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993440)

The teacher should at least have had the decency to sit the kid down and say "Look Son, I'd be happy to write something for you but first I've gotta tell you what I will write and why I will write it. You see, I believe ... etc"

Re:Teacher from HELL (1)

Valluvan (564515) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993323)

huh... look at this this way... if the teacher hadn't done it..
Past is a cold dead place. It is only the dead who live there.

Re:Teacher from HELL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993528)

I wouldn't be surprised if the teacher was denied admission to Ivy leagues, and thus was continuing the legacy with his student.. a rather unfortunate incident :(

Personally, I think that it was impious what that teacher did, and I hope he rots in hell.

Some teacher told my best friend that. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993570)

Here's a story. . .

Some dumb @$$ teacher at my High School had the F#cking balls to tell my best friend; who pretty much had a low self esteem at the time, she wasn't college material.

Now, I know teachers are entitled to their opinions but their some things do say(encourage) and there are things you do not say(discourage) especially. This b*tch of a english teacher most likely had the same opinion of me as well since I could never do well in her class but never had the b@ll$ to tell me but I could see it in face and the way she spoke to me.

Now, 9 years after my graduation from HS including 6 of years college, yep took me six years. I got my degree and am a successful web programmer. I wish I (and most likely I will) could go to see that f*cking teacher and let her know where I am at.

Unfortunately, my best friend still remembers what the b#tch english teacher told her and never went on to college. Not that going to college makes you any better then rest but this girl really wanted to go and her esteem was/is hanging on a string and still believes to this day she is not college material. I think other wise as long as you apply and believe in yourself. Like they say in the WWF, anything is possible. Unfortunately, that english made it impossible for my buddy.

my two cents. . .

School reputation matters... (1)

BalkanBoy (201243) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993287)

..however, it is ultimately up to the individual if he/she will make it or not. Even if they are successful and got a diploma, that still does not mean they are talented or have a nack for what they studied. E.g. I've seen CS majors from, let's just say, a renown older CS university who even after graduation wasn't sure what the hell is the difference between a "char *" and a "char []" in C/C++... Now, I know you cannot know every obscure detail of a language, but come on.. this was trivial.

Being in a good school definitely helps, because those schools that are 'good' or known/rated to be good by others have a natural selection of students who are more interested in learning rather than fucking around in college, so the environment definitely fosters a learning rather than a 'party' experience, however, no best Ivy league school will inject an ounce of intelligence or talent or most importantly, _motivation_ in someone to succeed.

Just my USD $.02.

The *what* effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993289)

Spielberg Effect? Is that where you start out very creative and talented but don't know when it's time to put the "Jerry Sienfeld effect" into effect? I think George Lucas has the same affliction.

No Guarantees (1)

yoey (247125) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993292)

A university degree does not guarantee the graduate anything ... but it helps get him into-the-door.

A degree from an known* Ivy-League school, therefore, will only help him get into some more doors.

*Harvard and Princeton. How many people have heard of Brown and Dartmouth in Europe?

AM I HOT OR NOT?!!! (-1)

Kip Diamond (620384) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993298)

Damn, I'm hot!

Observational Selection ? (3, Insightful)

Valluvan (564515) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993299)

Why does this sound to me like "Observational selection" that Carl Sagan listed in his Baloney detection kit [] ? What about those who got rejected and did not exactly shake up the world later in their life ?

The effects of a rejection could be positive or negative. There could be many reasons why Greg Forbes Siegman did what he did...too many variables and circumstances. "theorising" does not seem to be the right thing to do.

Re:Observational Selection ? (2)

Drakula (222725) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993520)

How about the number of people that got accepted but aren't worth the paper they received? I've seen plenty of graduates from top schools that might aw well stay home given what they actually contribute. In my opinion, education is what you make of it. If your lucky, the school you go to will point you inthe right direction as to what to learn. The learning part is up to you. Especially in grad school where you are expected to learn everything on your own anyway. School is not the solution, it is just a tool. Nothing is automatic.

grad of UT 81 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993309)

graduated from Univ of Texas 81, now at 1% of the top percentile in pay for Chem E's; go figure thats north of 130,000; so no you don't have to go to harvard, yale or half a dozen other snob schools to come out smokin by the time your 40.

It had better not matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993311)

Because I left school when I was 14!

Re:It had better not matter (1)

ContemporaryInsanity (583611) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993324)

It doesn't. For all intents and purposes so did I (left school at 14), it sucked, it taught me to read & write and little more, I did the rest. I'm now in my mid thirties and have been employed in IT for all of my adult life. I currently work as an R&D consultant surrounded by Phd's, in fact I'm the only employee in around 300 that doesn't have at least a normal degree. Doesn't make me any better or worse than them though, just different.

rejection/failure despite "success" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993314)

no brainer. what's the first thing you learn in baby school? why it's sharing, of course. some kids were abseNT/failed that day.

having rejected "success" ourselves, we're now invited to give talks on about how insightful/ludicrous that might be.

begging to differ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993334)

invited? talk? for money?

getting paid to "talk" about rejecting "success"?

this must be some kind of fairytail? what would you "talk" about? "dress for rejection"? "rejectcessorIEs"? shortselling?

It felt like a story about me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993319)

I graduated 2nd in my class because an overzealous Spanish teacher felt that, no matter how well I did, I deserved a B in class. This threw my unweighted GPA down to a 3.99 by graduation time and deprived me of the honor of valedictorian. While, my weighted GPA was close to 4.55, the denial of getting A in that class really hurt me a lot. It was the first time in my life that I realized that no matter what I did and how hard I worked, this teacher just did not like me. My only goal was get that achievement of being number one in my class and I felt I was robbed.

Since this took place my third year, it adversely affected my ability to put in the effort needed to succeed at my other classes. Instead of going the extra mile to learn, I was doing only enough to get an A in the class. I realized that I was smart enough that I did not have to put much work in to scoot by. When it came time to study for SATs, I didn't try. I opened up the study book at 1am the night before the test and took the test the next day. What did I score? 990 total. Dismal? You better believe it.

My parents noticed that I had been down due to my failure to get the grade I wanted in my Spanish class and they did their best to tell me that it wasn't the end of the world. It helped and the next SAT I took got me 1470. Better? Yes. Actually, so much better that the college board tried to pin me for cheating on the exam. I was quite upset and retook the SAT again and scored a 1550. To the amazement of the college board, my score went up again under strict supervision. Regardless, this wasn't the last battle I was going to face.

My sincere desire was to become a doctor and work to bring my love of computer into the medical world. To this end, I decided the best decision was for me to apply to the B.S. / M.D. programs that spit you out in 6, 7, or 8 years with both degrees. Guess what? I got rejected from every single one. I guess being Senate President and President of over half the clubs on campus and tons of community service wasn't enough for them.

I ended up at UCLA for my undergraduate work. I have crashed and burned in UCLA too. My third year was very bad but I have become a better person who realizes what he is capable of. Medical school applications go out this June and I hope that my low GPA will be overlooked and I get accepted. It has been a rough ride but I hope others can benefit from my experiences and realized that many people in those world are complete asses. What matters is if you apply yourself or not.

Re:It felt like a story about me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993429)

I didn't know it was *possible* for someone reasonably intelligent to score below a thousand on the SATs... That must have been one hell of a bad day.

I've hired many people and it doesn't matter (5, Interesting)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993320)

I work at a company that has several hundred employees, most of which of have PhDs in the hard sciences. (This includes myself.) Over the years, I've been on numerous hiring committees. From my experience I can say this, there is a broad tiering of schools -- community college versus major universities (including state schools and Ivy League). Which tier you attended can affect hiring decisions. Past that the specific school doesn't matter. Having discussed the qualifications of many interview candidates, I have NEVER heard anyone say hire person A over person B because they went to an Ivy League school. The discussions center around oral and written skills and personality. Specifically, whether the person's personality would be a good fit in the corporate culture. (Because of our work, we need to avoid the shy, introverted scientist. We need extroverts.)

one factor.. (5, Interesting)

pamri (251945) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993322)

..that separates the haves(college-educated) and have-not's(drop-outs) are 'risk'. Most of the educated people are generally averse to risk, in the sense that they whatever subject they learn, be it management or engineering they are taught to manage risk. While I am not saying that educated people don't take risks, but people who haven't gone to college maybe less prone to over analysis and take the plunge in following their vision.Ok, I am being overtly simplistic and may be generalisations, but it's not entirely false.
Let's look at the facts:
From a forbes article [] : The vast majority of the 234 U.S. billionaires whose education level is tracked by Forbes magazine through 1999 finished college; 100 have some form of advanced degree, but 41--that's 18%--never got their college diplomas and two never even finished high school.
The world's richest man(i don't have to stress here :-) ) is a dropout, India's richest men: Dhirubhai Ambani(Reliance founder), Azim Premji(Wipro) are all great examples. One IIMB professor told me that 10 of the richest people are dropouts or have basic education & the 11th(i believe ballmer) works for the 1st(bill). I haven't verified it though, so take it with a pinch of salt.

The point I am trying to make is not that education doesn't help you or isn't necessary, but rather bookish/college education is not the be all or end all in making a person a great individual or entrepreneur or leader.

Re:one factor.. (1)

joefreshman (136737) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993432)

How irrelevant can you get? Most of these billionaires come from old money, so you can hardly argue that their non-attendance of college led to their current situations.

In addition, you'll have to discount all of the non-Western candidates, since college is viewed much differently in non-Western countries (i.e., why the hell go to College if your family is already way loaded?)

I was rejected by UCB (1, Informative)

thogard (43403) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993328)

In 1985 or so I got a letter from UCB. At the time Berkeley had the best com sci program of any university and I so applied. The letter I go back said "Thanks for your application"..."it hasn't even been considered since we have had over a million applicants since we filled up. Please consider one of these University of California schools"... there there was a list of crossed out schools. The application fee was $20 and they did cash the check and didn't return it.

Undergrad school doesn't matter too much (1)

t0rnt0pieces (594277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993331)

I don't think undergrad school makes much of a difference. After all, you're not really doing any research or anything, just learning the basics and getting a liberal arts degree. Graduate school is where you specialize and then the quality of the researchers and the resources of the school matter. For example, take a physics class at Harvard and compare with one at "Random State University." Are the laws of physics any different at Harvard? I think not. In fact, I've heard a few professors complain about some of these prestigious schools because they inflate their grades to make their students look smarter. One of them said that at Duke something like 75% of the class (biology 101 I think) got A's. That's preposterous.
In my opinion, undergrad school matters a little bit, but it's a waste of money to go to a prestigious expensive school. Just go to a school you know doesn't suck and do really well, you'll get into a good grad school. I went to Rutgers, which is a decent school but it's not Harvard, and I knew someone who got into Harvard for their developmental biology PhD program. And as someone else said, it's ultimately the individual that decides how far they will go in life.

Who is the richest man again? (1)

ThoreauHD (213527) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993332)

Nobody cares where you went to school. Other things like E.Q. and I.Q are more important when working well with people.

Hell, you don't even need to have graduated from college/MS/PhD anymore. Most of the people that kick ass and take names are college drop-outs. Probably because they don't have a degree to fall back on. Apple, MS, etc.. Anyhow, it's what you know, not who you sucked up to for 4 years.

Re:Who is the richest man again? (2)

Gyan (6853) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993343)

And the richest man dropped out of Harvard and wasn't rejected. But I agree with you anyway.

Personality matters. (5, Insightful)

Gyan (6853) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993338)

If your makeup is that of someone who is entrepreneurial, creative, takes initiative/risks and works at it, college just becomes a formality to please the business mentality at large when you're starting. You're likely to succeed anyway.
The college you go to doesn't matter*

*Elitist wall-street and legal firms not included.

Re:Personality matters. (1)

Powercntrl (458442) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993347)

I concur. I'd be far more interested in a study about "Success despite social rejection." I am a geek afterall.

Re:Personality matters. (2)

Snuffub (173401) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993556)

I think you should probably expand on those categories which are excluded from your statement. You cant underestimate the value of having a highly visible school when looking for jobs and internships. Two example i have seen are
1. when it was time for me to look for a summer internship which could hopefully lead to a job many large companies aggressively marketed themselves to CS undergrads in my department this was in stark contrast to some of my friends who went to larger schools but are doing the same work and are absolutely equally qualified.
2. One person I know at princeton was able to get in touch with senator Frist through the university because of his envolvment with our student government. That's the kind of access that can only help when trying to get your foot in the door in any field.

But before you call me elitist I should say that I dont think the name of your school should come into question when deciding where to apply in the long run picking the school that's right for you based on the environment you want and the fields you want to pursue is far more important.

Re: Success despite college rejection (1)

da (93780) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993339)

Depends how you define success. I am the only one of my closest friends who did not graduate (although I did go to what was then a polytechnic here in the U.K. but dropped out and took a job) and I am the second highest earner. Mind you I did learn a lot when I was there. And I think I.T. gives you more opportunity to succeed without qualifications than some other (engineering) fields. I think it's probably been easier for me to convince people that I can make their computers do what they want than I it would be to convince people to let me design their bridges if I'd done civil engineering instead of electrical/electronic.

My conclusion - ability and no qualifications can take you as far as no ability and qualifications with luck and a following wind...

It does matter (1)

mrwiggly (34597) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993342)

Let's face it, if your gifted in some manner you'll excell education or not.

However, if you're an ordinary person, then the school you attend is the only thing to make you stand out from the crowd.

School Entry Criteria (1, Troll)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993344)

Hi all,

I never had to deal with testing for entry to a school. I did take one test for math placement, but the school basicly said, "If you can afford it, you can attend."

I don't see why every school isn't set up this way. If I can afford to take classes at MIT or Berkley(sp?), then why would they turn me away? In a capatilist system, demand drives supply. If MIT has 1000 slots open for Intro to C++, and 10000 people apply, then the price for the semester should rise until the applicant base falls to a reasonable level.

I do think that a school should look at your highschool GPA when you apply, but I don't see why any "4.0" student shouldn't be able to get into any school they can afford. The schools should either expand their services or boost their prices until they meet a balance. If they need an additional system of balance, then make the classes uberfuckinghard. Let Darwin sort it out.

I'm not bitter (I love my school, U. of Maryland), but if I have the money for a service, it is bullshit for that service to be denied. Kinda like WalMart saying that they have Nike shoes, but not for you.

Re:School Entry Criteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993356)

duh spell that Capitalist

Re:School Entry Criteria (1)

stoops (633175) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993365)

..."I do think that a school should look at your highschool GPA when you apply, but I don't see why any "4.0" student shouldn't be able to get into any school they can afford" the problem with that is that there are WAY too many people that get those 4.0's in the US. it's simply to easy to get a 4.0. there's no distiction between the brilliant students and the students with mediocre intelligence that are willing to work hard. and the idea of having money as the only entry criterion is ridiculous - the top schools are the top schools because they attract the world's top minds. if they admitted any "4.0" who can afford it, the quality of education would suffer horribly. learning from your peers is part of it, but what is more significant is that you can't teach at a intelligent level if 90% of the class is mediocre students. the intelligent students would be held back. and a huge (in many cases the biggest) part of the financing these schools receive is from alumni donations. they want the students that will take their education they receive and then make a truckload of money, so they can give it back to the school. if a class consisted entirely of mediocre students with rich parents, the school might make more money in tuition fees, but alumni donations would fall to a much lower level. but even then, most ivy league schools will be happy to admit a mediocre "4.0" student if their parents are willing to donate a couple mil...

Re:School Entry Criteria (2)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993538)

The best way is to admit all the 4.0 students and then let the achedimic program sort out thoes that will succede.

Re:School Entry Criteria (1)

Interfacer (560564) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993460)

So what you are saying is that bright kids with little money should not be able to get into good schools because rich bastards like you can pay the price, even though you are not that smart?

Re:School Entry Criteria (2)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993546)

A school is not in the buisness of providing charity to anyone who thinks they deserve to attend Harvard. The school is there to make money. That's it.

Now, if I can afford to attend, and I have grades that suggest I can hack it, then why should I be denied?

Re:School Entry Criteria (2)

xeeno (313431) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993487)

There's nothing troll about this comment, it's the truth. Universities are money making institutions first and foremost, if you don't believe it then you haven't attended one.

I can't begin to tell you how many people I've met that were allowed 'tenative' enrollment because they had none of the prerequisites so that the administration could get its greasy little hands on that prize of all prizes, financial aid money. Hell, as a grad student TA at my current university, you're forced to sit through the 'how things work' orientation, and there they give you a list of classes in which you are NOT allowed to give a student an F in because 'college is hard and students need chances' rrt wrong no, college administration needs more money so keep the student around longer.

I've also had the misfortune to work with someone that is on the 'academic excellence' comittee here, and the requirements for excellence and renewal of a contract for a professor is 1. how much money they bring in, 2. how much they produce, 3. how many grad students they turn out. 2 and 3 can be overlooked if 1 is well satisfied, and it doesn't matter what quality a teacher the person is.

So, in conclusion, he's right. If it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, and tastes like a duck then it's probably a duck, and they should just waive the requirements for admission and what have you and allow everyone to attend.

Re:School Entry Criteria (1)

ponxx (193567) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993505)

> There's nothing troll about this comment, it's the truth. Universities are money making
> institutions first and foremost, if you don't believe it then you haven't attended one

While this might be true in the US (i wouldn't know), it certainly isn't in Europe. University staff are vastly underpaid compared to equivalent industry positions, and the only reason they can be kept at university is that there is a certain amount of idealism still there. The lack of university fees (or a fixed sum of 1k pounds in the UK) is another factor that stops universities from becoming mere money-making institutions.

Don't get me wrong. They're extremely inefficient (being run by committees of acadmics) and you probably get an equally good education in the US, but I do think that european universities are not primarily about money...

I do say old chap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993351)

this thread has a distnctly Brit sound to it. After all aren't they the folks that think they're the worlds smartest doctor/lawyer/chemist, etc (fill in the blank on that)

Oh, what I've found, they are very qualified, but like the holiday more than work, so any yank is worth 2 brits just because the yank works harder (being equally educated that is.
cheers from the US of A!!

The hell? (-1)

BlackTriangle (581416) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993403)

What are you, an Australian rabble rouser? You're no American, if you are, then where's the scar at the tip of your dick?

Re:I do say old chap (1)

ponxx (193567) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993530)

> Oh, what I've found, they are very qualified, but like the holiday more than work, so any yank
> is worth 2 brits just because the yank works harder (being equally educated that is)

I think that goes for most of Europe and is the primary reason i wouldn't like to work in the US. Believe it or not, for some people life is not solely about work... I'd rather have some time to spend my money...

it is just the formality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993357)

A degree gives you a "formal" knowledge framework, and perhaps make some frieds, rich ones if you go to a "expensive" college. How relevant that knowledge is to a real situation is a different matter, but for most degress the real world is a completly different thing. I did CS as my degree and it was only useful to find the first job. More important is your willing to learn/change/adapt to new things, different situations, new jobs and new challenges. Learning does not stop at college, it only gives you the formality of having to pass some exams. I know very capable/intelligent people that did not fit within the framework and drop out college as their learning styles/motivations were different to what the system required, and they are not doing bad...

It's not the degree.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993370)

I don't think the degree is as important as the process. It's your personal challenges that count. Of course, you still have to give the teacher exactly what is asked off you, but hey, that's the game.

After failing high school miserably, I wasn't able to get into any university. While all my friends started their degrees, I was forced to go to a 'lower level' form of tertiary education (let's just say it's not a university).

Anyway, long story short, I used that 'failure' as the reason for kicking everybody's ass. I made sure that I beat everybody in all my classes (academically of course ;P ).

More importantly, I started thinking positively to attract positive energy. I figured, if I do bad things, bad things will happen to me. If I do good things (or just don't do bad things), then karma will kick in.

And it worked. That was 5 years ago. Now I have a diploma, and degree with Honors! (I found a way to a university). My final year was under scholarship, during which I also had a full time job doing R&D. Now I work for a very large, solid global company doing exactly what I want.

Along the way I learned a lot of things. But more importantly I learnt about myself - when to apply pressure, when to relax, when to go out, when to study, when to spend time with my family.

Hard work and enthusiasm. That's all it takes. If you do your part, God will do the rest.

Now I plan to get lots and lots of money, and then show all the rich people how they should be helping others instead of buying unnecessary things (like expensive shit). I don't know how I'm going to do it. I just know it will happen.

Ummm ... could 2 yrs Jr college be better yet? (1)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993371)

Let's see... my roommate was a guy who just didn't feel ready for the University, and therefore went to a 2yr college, and *really* learned the basics well.

He then came in to the Va Tech EE program (Electrical engineering), and found himself tutoring his classmates for money.

He then graduated, went into their computer engineering program, and has a PhD in that now. I have no idea whether he is successful now, but I suspect he is.

I suspect that a lot of other things, such as distractions, matter more than which college you go to.

On the other hand, if you want to do the bare minimum, just get by, and get a great job based on connections and nothing else, I'm sure Harvard or Yale or even MIT would be great!

Likewise, if you're really good, think that you will do great research, and yet want a Nobel prize, better have those good universities (and thesis professor) under your name: it *does* make a difference there.

And anything political? Again, the good universities can be important, though more important is to "have the right views". Character, behavior, and skill all matter not a whit there, for *both* sides of the Officially Approved American Political Party.

Anyhow, I'm probably wrong in most of this. Everything I said here is an opinion, not stated fact, and I've been known to be wrong before. I'm often wrong [but did not invent Data... that was Al Gore. He's the other often wrong.]

Could be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993378)

Depending on how you measure success...

I was rejected by CalTech and MIT (flamers do yer wurst) and due to being young and stoopid my back-up school was the local state university system.

But, I ended up cruising through the CS degree program with so much time on my hands that I was able to take a campus job in the IT department and use it to explore lots of leading edge technology at the time. I got my name in the credits for all kinds of projects - perl, tcl/tk, Mosaic, XFree86, etc (last time I ego-surfed google I got about 300 hits on my name with probably 90% of them referencing my actual self and not some travel agent in in podunk Indiana) and really learned my shit. Much more than just vocational level too, I picked up experience and insight that lots of MS and PhD grads don't have (of course there are plenty of graduate students with deeper specific knowledge then I had, but I figure I was ahead of say, at least 50% of them by the time I graduated with my lowly BS from a lowly school).

So, 9 or so years later, I haven't put my name on an a public internet project for at least 6-7 years, instead working in the private industry. But, even in these crappy times I'm able to consistently bill $250/hr for my consulting services - last year I pulled down over $400K pre-tax.

But, I ended up getting divorced from my wife of 8+ years. I don't have any kids, but I also don't have a social life to speak of (the wife was it outside of work), I'm growing bald and I've put on a few extra pounds -- but the bank account is fat too and will keep getting fatter for at least another 12 months if not longer.

So, if a fatwallet is your measure of sucess then yeah, being rejected by the top schools might be part of my "success." But being rejected is certainly not the only price I've had to pay for where I am today and I certainly don't think of it as success now as much as I would have considered it success 10 years ago.

From my own experience: Right on! (2)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993385)

Im 32 years old and moved 24 times in my life, most of it as a child and teenager. I attended 5 different schools and lived in the states, germany, scotland and germany again. Along the way, as you can imagine, I grew somewhat emotionally independet of the judgement by academic authorities over me that at points I often came to disbelief at how so many people, especially in my homecountry germany, can take the system for granted. Only gradually are things changing to a more unconventional way of dealing with this. That's one of the rare things that are actually *good* to be copied from the US.
Everything that article says is so very true.
And there is still one thing I might want to add:
The reason for going to a University should be that you want to learn, not that you want a degree. If you can't gain that amount of self esteem (spelling???) without a degree it's almost shure a degree isn't the right thing for you. That probably is more so when studying an art.
If I where young again (gee I'm 32 now...:-) ) I'd be even more reckless. I'd pick the masters I've allways considered the best of trade, let's say for instance Frank Miller the comic artist, back a backpack travel to him, knock on his door and ask him to let me help him with anything I can offer for free and therefore let me look over his shoulder while he's drawing. For now I don't give a shit what papers or titles people have. They hardly mean zilch apart from showing their ability to walk the treadmill.
What counts is what ones self is willing to do and what ones self considers a great achievement or a poor performance. It's difficult, requires honesty but in the long run get's you farther. I bet that's the common demoninator all the people we call 'originals' have.

reputation != education (2, Interesting)

NovaX (37364) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993434)

I've been looking at many of the ivy-leage schools for graduate school, and so I've been glancing at their undergraduate degrees for a basis of what they expect. Guess what, they don't teach a lot to undergraduates. Actually, its pretty average. I was pretty surprised at first, even though I go to a great school its not a 'name-brand', but some are just pathetic.

Most college rankings seem to rely on reputation, peer-review, famous faculty, research, and the education recieved by graduate students. Instead undergraduate is by and large who you are and how much your worth, not brains. And to top it off, and this really got me, a large number of the 'best-of-the-best' schools use a partial or full pass/fail system to hide GPAs. This means that if you pass (usually 50-65% on course webpages), you get a pass - equal to a 3.0 when converted to a GPA by the school. Quite a nice trick, especially for those that use a partial system to hide tougher courses where GPAs would fall.

And the graduate programs aren't all that great at times. Many take 1 year to complete, not two. I actually laughed when I looked at UC Berkeley's for Computer Engineering: 10-11 crh (out of 24) can be applied to any 100-level or above course. Okay, okay, its not ivy-leage, but the school has a good rep.

So ivy-leage schools having great reputations is false, and I can tell you numerous stories related to me by PhD graduates from them. The thing is, for some people reputation is just as or more important than the education - like the MBA programs. Stanford and many others don't actually release an MBA student's grades to potential employers, but the key aspect to their program lies in the connections built in, advice from famous CEOs, and the education. The mere fact that Stanford is on your resume determines your salary.

So repeat after me: reputation does not equal education. And the article shows this, the name attached to his degree didn't make much of a difference. You just have to decide what mixture you want, obscurity vs fame, hardcore vs. hand-holding.

Take it from me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993442)

I've been from University of San Francisco to Community colleges and now to U.C. Berkeley. The recognition of the schools do matter.

You tend to meet much more ambitious people at the higher up schools. Obviously, you're more likely to find the next CEO in Harvard than in any community college. In addition, the professors at the "name brand" schools tend to be the creme of the crop. My nobel prize winning professors trumps any regular professors any day.

Lastly, many of those that do become a success regardless of their schools are indicative of their own amazing personalities. But can many people honestly compare themselves to the greatness of Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg or Einstein?

Test statistics (1)

axafluff (530026) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993453)

How to describe tests, e.g. in this case college admission, has been a well studied practice for a long time. A specific tests is evaluated by how close it meets the desired student body composition of the college. Factors involved are the sensitivity, specificity, prevalence, positive and negative predictive value and others. In college admission terms these could perhaps be translated to:

Sensitivity - what proportion of high-school students with post priori or retrospective success in a college will be admitted by the test. Or the question "If with omniscience we know that some student would do well in a college, how likely is it that the student to be accepted by the admission tests of that college?"
Specificity - what proportion of high-school students with post priori or retrospective success in a college will be rejected by the test.

Sensitivity and specificity often relate reciprocally.

Positive predicitive value - what proportion of the students who were accepted by the admission test of college will actually succeed in that college.
Negative predicitive value - what proportion of the students who were rejected by the admission test of college would in fact actually have succeed in that college.

I believe that the article is inspiring and that the purpose of the article were to illustrate success in spite of (over-)whelming odds. However, without knowledge of the above test describing variables and knowledge of college admission goals as distilled in the tests I find it difficult to immediately come to the conclusion that one/some/all tests are a failure. (Note before rest of text: I sort of presume that most Ivy league students are dull and don't do miracles and the brilliant one's are at least a bit eccentric or out-of-the-box). For example if an Ivy league school's admission test goal is to minizime future failing students over admitting perceived "high-risk" students with potential genius capability then it would prefer a test with a high positivt predictive value and you would expect the outcome illustrated in the article (I don't think a genius necessitates a "high-risk" personality but bear with me). Another school perhaps wants to find all the gems hidden in the mainstream Ivy league applying sand and would consequently value a test with a high sensitivity and a low negativt predictive value even if that means they admit some rather dull but performing students. Of course my points may be moot coming from U of Rant at Nonsensespam-by-the-sea.

As Per Usual, Slashdot Readers Go Hyperbolic (1)

joefreshman (136737) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993454)

The point of the article seems to be that one's ambition has more to do with a widely lauded and recognized life than where one goes to college. Um, Duh. However, it's interesting to note that the study quoted in the article is by a Princeton professor, which should tell you a bit about how important naming colleges is to the person writing the article (one wonders if a study would be even considered if it came out of Bumfuck state?)

Finally, isn't this all fairly obvious? Of course you can be very rich and very famous without going to an ivy league college. But we still have a couple problems with the average Slashdot Reader Response to this article, which seems to be, "It doesn't matter which college you go to at all". One, this article named two (2) people who are fairly well recognized and did not go to ivy league schools. Off the top of all of our heads, if we methodically listed all of the people who we consider to be successful in life (and nationally "known"), I think we'll easily find that the majority went to a school in the top tier (say top 50 universities or top 50 liberal arts)

Also, one attends university to learn how to think, not to learn how to be creative. Note that the people quoted in this article are primarily successful because of their creativity. If you are an incredibly creative person, not going to an ivy league college won't take that away from you (i.e., Michelangelo!). However, look at people in professions which require intelligence. Doctors, lawyers, supreme court justices, senators, and the list goes on. The top people in these fields are mainly top tier grads.

Finally, the comment somewhere here that the education at Harvard is just as "easy" as anywhere else, you just have to get in -- that's horse shit. The educational rigor at Harvard and other ivy league schools is much tougher than pretty much every other school in the nation (perhaps not Deep Springs or other experimental collegs, but those might as well be ivy league for their quality of student).

An ivy league education doesn't guarantee anything, but it certainly ups the odds.

Re:As Per Usual, Slashdot Readers Go Hyperbolic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993569)

Also, one attends university to learn how to think, not to learn how to be creative. Note that the people quoted in this article are primarily successful because of their creativity. If you are an incredibly creative person, not going to an ivy league college won't take that away from you (i.e., Michelangelo!). However, look at people in professions which require intelligence. Doctors, lawyers, supreme court justices, senators, and the list goes on. The top people in these fields are mainly top tier grads.

Two things wrong here. The first is assuming creativity is not a thinking process. It is. You don't think a film Diector's job is primarily about solving problems? Because I can assure you it is. The problems are to do with how to evoke an audience reaction, but as Hollywood's output proves, not many people are able to do it well. The number of people who can do it well and consistently are few indeed.

The other thing I would dispute is that University teaches you to think. In my experience, University does no such thing. The number of incurious, unintellectual, ignorant unndergrads I met at college surprised and disappointed me. The number of undergrads who actually apply critical thinking skills to anything outside their narrow degree specialisation, is few indeed.

In theory you go to University to feed a passion for learning. In practice, you go to improve your chances of getting a job, and for the most part, this involves learning a lot about a narrowly-defined area. Fine if your job is a technical one, hopeless if your aim is to get an education.

Spielburg? Interesting choice. (1)

Mulletproof (513805) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993515)

Now why is this "The Spielburg Effect"? I realize it's not a popular name to mention around here, but why not "The Bill Gates Effect?" or "The Steve Jobs Effect". Not only have these two people proven just how irrelevant these pieces of paper are, they actually have something to do with the software/technology industry...

Re:Spielburg? Interesting choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993540)

Perhaps because Bill Gates went to Harvard and dropped out, rather than being unable to get into college in the first place.

stating the obvious? (2)

Snuffub (173401) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993524)

With all the articles going around putting focus on the college admissions process at top schools and how flawed it is im glad someone finally realizes the truth. That the importance of the name of your school is a distant third in my opinion to first what you make of your experience there and second to whether it's the right school for you. I know people at my school who are throwing away their four years drinking and partying. I also know people at Dartmouth who are miserable because they really wanted the environment that a large city school would provide but they chose Dartmouth for the name value (not to say that there arent others for whom living two seconds from miles of hiking and skiing isnt heaven.)

I wish more parents would think about this when theyre pressuring their kids to do after school activities that they have no interest in and take AP classes which arent right for them.

That said you cant totally discount the advantages to going to a big name school. But these advantages have less to do with the curriculum than they do with the people you can come in contact with both while at the university and after you graduate. For example there arent many places where you can take a course from ed Felten on IT and the law, and a course on programing from Kernighan while at the same time studying photography with emmet gowin. But like I said before having a prestigious faculty to work with doesnt do you any good unless you put the time in to get to know them.

"Dog bites man" versus "Man bites dog" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4993543)

There's a reason this phenomenon is worth a newspaper article: it is, to be very generous, uncommon.

You can't keep a natural born salesman down, because shit floats. For the rest of us, determination, a dream and a degree from a good school beats determination, a dream and a degree from Land Grant University. Mr. Land Grant and Mr. I Teached My Own Self compete on a level playing field, but the literate and presentable one will win eight times out of ten, and even LGUs tend to weed out people who put smileys on their resumes.

Article Asks Wrong Question (1)

Brown Line (542536) | more than 11 years ago | (#4993553)

Is it possible to lead a happy, successful life after rejection by a prestigious university? Of course. I dare say most of the people reading this thread would regard themselves as reasonably successful and happy; yet only a few have ever attended a "prestigious" university. Only a snob would even ask the question.

If your goal is to acquire a decent education, there are many places you can do that: excellent state universities, small liberal-arts colleges, even community colleges. All you need is a good teacher and a willingness to work.

Attending a prestigious school is good for one thing: networking. By going to Ivy-Covered University, you'll meet people from "good" families whose uncles and cousins hold powerful positions in government and the corporate world - the people who give their kids names like "Strobe" and "Gray". It's your ticket into the American aristocracy.

If your goal is to ride the gravy train, then claw your way into a prestigious university. If your goal is get an education, then find the school that you can afford whose faculty has the best reputation for teaching, and go there. If your goal is to learn about life and the world, then go to work, or enlist in the military - you'll learn in a month than any prestigious university could show you in a lifetime.

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