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Good and not so good colleges – How to tell them apart?

August 10, 2009

Early last year when I set up my little operation, I looked forward to hiring a market research executive. I opted to get someone fresh out of college, or university as it is called here.

So I took out an ad and the CVs rolled in. As no one had any experience, the only thing these applicants had to show was the college they attended. Then it struck me.

How do I know if a student from a certain college is any good?

In the US, if you are from a college like Stanford or Dartmouth, you get an edge. Call it what you like but businesses take this perceived reputation quite seriously. Some even “go to market” together. JPL or Jet Propulsion Labs for example is a joint effort between California Inst. of Tech and NASA.

Bear in mind that in a country that believes in peer review like America, unsupportable reputations are quickly discredited. It keeps the diploma mills out of the picture.

But here I was doing it blind. The college names sounded all alien to me and I couldn’t find a publicly viewable ranking system. One that says 70% of graduates from college A found employment within a year of graduation compared to 55% of graduates from  college B. Or that a high proportion of industry leaders in the country graduated from college C. Now that would’ve been helpful.

Yes I know you can’t assume that everyone that comes out of a great school is a genius, just as not everyone that comes out of a bad school is a failure. I’m talking about the probability of success based on measurable trends.

Anyway, not wanting to gamble so early in the startup, I eventually decided to get an experienced associate who graduated from the UK.

The whole thing did open my eyes to how colleges here “market” their programs.

Let’s just consider private colleges who are in it for the money. Who do you suppose they consider as their customers? The students? Their parents? Or the companies that eventually hire their graduates?

My conclusion after looking around – they are more interested in potential students and their parents (or whoever picks up the tab.) They don’t seem the least bothered about the final consumer of their products – the corporate world itself.

Amazing. The party that has the final say about how much their products are really worth is absent from the chain.

I hear many local graduates are unemployable. A missed connection there somewhere, ya think? 😀

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 1:41 pm

    yea, most unis/colleges don care much bout the end products. sadly, but thats the truth. not just private ones though.

    maybe it’s better to get some IQ n attitude tests? I think that is more important than where a candidate is coming from.

    i think the ex US president came from harvard or MIT..right? 😛

    I’m not sure about ex presidents but Obama went to Harvard law school.

    Yeah IQ/EQ helps but I also think the culture of performance that good schools can give you is hard to measure. That is one rare aspect of tradition that I happen to appreciate.

  2. August 10, 2009 6:43 pm

    well , i hire local grads , or people with just spm qualification ..

    most of them who graduated from overseas are arrogant as a shithole . They expect a RM3500 salary for a fresh grad and think that their overseas experience is everything . wtf ?

    i got a local graduate , brought up locally , graduated locally , has his own network and well known among the locals . he got me great connections and deals .

    I’ve interviewed US and UK grads and yup, some of them expect the moon and the sun for nothing. What can you say when they show up for interviews in their shiny BMWs. I didn’t wanna be their first career mistake so I turned them all down, hehe. 😀

    If I could find a local graduate who could demonstrate the kind of analytical thinking I needed, I would have taken him/her right away. Unfortunately those I interviewed were trained to follow orders blindly, like robots. They were simply not curious enough for the work I do.

  3. August 11, 2009 8:31 pm

    The thing with local grads (blame the education sys?) is that……we have more robots than thinking people. Back in uni, right before my graduation, i said this line “universities produce robots, not human. which one are you?” in a toastmaster thingy. everyone looked at me. i think that line wasnt very nice to hear in a way :T

    I’m not familiar with the “system” here but IMO, a graduate is a product of kindergarten + elementary + high school + college. These pieces determine whether you come out a critical thinker or a robot that swallows everything given to you. Critical thinking produces innovation. Blind acceptance produces subservience.

    But as gapnap had experienced, there will be a few who come out of the system and shine despite the odds. Question is how to find them.

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