Higher Education Still Matters; Make it American, Make it Ivy League

The benefits of college in the United States

With the growing presence of entrepreneurs and newly created start ups in today’s economy, is a college education still valuable? Is one even necessary to succeed? College numbers are dwindling globally, this is the case from the world’s elite Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale, right down to those lesser known and less-reputable schools tucked away in foreign lands. While a “formal education” may in fact not always be necessary for those with the acumen to become self employed, it is exceedingly important for those who wish to pursue a professional career. However, gaining a higher education is not enough, where you gain it is now becoming a critical determining factor in ones career trajectory.

There are many popular destinations where students can go to gain a higher education, such as the U.K. and Australia. However, everywhere pales in comparison to an education gained in the United States of America. This is not necessarily a testament to the quality of education that can be provided, but more so, to the reputation that institutions within the U.S. hold.

Reputation! Reputation, is the clear differentiator between institutions in the U.S. and those spread around the world. To be clear, this is not so much the case for say, a lawyer with aspirations of working in a small local law firm in Nebraska. However, if that same lawyer were to aspire to work in a law firm such as Kirkland & Ellis in New York City, a candidate with a degree from a top college abroad would still be viewed as less favorable than a candidate with an American qualification at any institution with a reputable name. Why is this the case? Is this equitable? Not really. Nonetheless, this is the nature of reputation and recognition.

When it comes to the corporate world of professional services, not only are the major players predominantly headquartered in the United States, but also run by alumni of American institutions. This leads to heightened levels of loyalty being weighted to these institutions, as well as trust in their caliber of graduates. This is a true reality and without a top tier education, top tier organizations will often look past well qualified and suited candidates. This is far from a new discovery, it is an unspoken fact. In 2011, Lauren Riviera, an assistant professor at Northwestern, published research about how top firms like hedge funds and investment banks only hire from “top tier” schools.

Lauren Riviera’s research leads on to another factor. Sometimes it is not enough to just go to college in America, if it is not Ivy League you may still face setbacks. For example, those wanting careers in Management Consulting at one of the top firms ie. McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group, will find that a “mediocre” U.S. college is still not enough to make the cut. Competition to gain a position at a top tier firm is fierce, regardless of the industry. This allows these organizations to not only be selective when looking at their total applicant pool, but to be selective when looking at candidates within the top Ivy League institutions.

Ivy League schools are important to give candidates an additional boost. They do so in several ways, such as the connections they provide, the high caliber curriculum they boast, and most importantly, their stature and illustrious prestige that both professional and academic groups recognize them for. Those that are able to secure a place at an Ivy League school and graduate, have positioned themselves in a highly advantageous situation. Not only have they achieved an American degree, but they have effectively achieved one at the top end of the spectrum.

Higher education is important for those wishing to pursue futures in the professional services field. An American education, or better yet, an Ivy League education is becoming increasingly pertinent to those aspiring to lead in their fields and gain positions at top companies within their industry. As stated, this is not necessarily due to the quality of education American colleges can provide, but because of the world renowned reputations they have acquired, rendering them immediately recognizable and thus projecting prospective job applicants to the top of the job list.

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