Prestigious Academic Institutions Don’t Help Employment

James R. Becker, Jr.

March 18, 2019

In the wake of the college admissions bribe scandal, many parents are questioning whether there is anything they can do to help their kids with their future after school.  The apparent answer is that the money the wealthy and privileged spent on bribing college admissions officials was wasted.  This should be welcome news for parents who struggle to afford college and cannot even begin to imagine bribing someone to admit their child.

In 2012, The Chronicle of Higher Education surveyed 50,000 employers about what mattered most in hiring decisions.  According to that survey, 43% of hiring decisions weigh experience (e.g., internships and actual work experience) higher than the academic credentials of the student, while only 22% of hiring decisions place the emphasis on academic credentials.  My rather clumsy reproduction of the chart on the right is from that study and encapsulates this finding.  On a scale of 1 - 100, employers rated both internships and college work experience at the top and college reputation at the very bottom as the most important attributes of a recent college graduate.  While this study is a little dated, the underlying answers and the philosophy they embody are timeless.  Employers care about what you can do, not where you learned to interpret poetry.

What all of this means to me is that while some parents may try to buy future success for their children, this effort is going to be futile.  What will matter most is going to be the same thing that it always has been - time.  Time spent working and "learning the ropes."  As with everything else, there is no substitute for time spent paying your dues.