Posts Tagged ‘Harvard’

A college freshman wrote to me with some questions on Ivy League schools: their merit, their policies, and their preferences. My responses follow.

1. When interviewing my head of school, who attended Penn approximately 20 years ago, he told me “no one graduated without a job”. This obviously has changed, but why do you think that is? Do you think it is the quality of Ivy League schools that has gone down?

That certainly may be part of it, but it’s not the whole story. The first question is, what do we mean by a “quality” education? What makes one school better than another? Is it the practical (i.e. professional) value of the education? The challenge it provides? Perhaps it’s the social experience, or the values the university conveys? I think it’s fair to say that there’s been a dramatic demographic, socioeconomic, and political shift in the Ivies over the past fifty or so years, but that doesn’t necessarily imply anything about the quality of the coursework. My general impression is that many elite private universities have rather academic curricula compared to their public counterparts, in the sense that they aren’t geared to train students for the “real world.” I’m not opposed to taking courses out of personal interest, but I think most students who are fresh out of high school are hoping to gain some vocational skills as part of their education, and in that respect I think many top-rated private schools don’t deliver.



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One might think that America’s best universities would be intent on recruiting the top minds in the nation, but that’s often not the case. Instead, many highly-ranked private schools provide special preferences for anything but stellar academics. Brace yourselves: If you want a place at one of America’s elite universities, the answer may not be to study hard and get good grades, but rather to be born into the right circumstances – i.e., to be of the right race, religion, socioeconomic background, legacy status, or athletic ability.

Affirmative action – or just plain racism?

Not long ago, Harvard was charged with ethnic discrimination against Asian applicants. The following article discusses this issue at great length and suggests that the accusation is indeed well-founded. It additionally reveals a pattern of discrimination against gentile whites (Euro-Americans), as well as arbitrary favoritism toward Jewish students. Harvard employs an affirmative-action program to ensure that it has an abundance of ethnic minorities, but in the process knocks out some of its would-be best and brightest. How good can America’s top-rated university be if it’s not even meritocratic?


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Today I offer yet another laundry list of stories, this time focused on top-tier grads who face underemployment, some of whom work in minimum-wage positions.

Harvard to Homeless and Other Anecdotal Evidence Not to Go to Law School

“In April of 2009, almost one year after I had graduated from Ivy League, I began a pretty hardcore job search […] By September, I had my first job in the restaurant industry serving room service at 6 a.m. “

“So here I am. Eight years of experience, a Master’s degree, and an Ivy League school. You’d think I could at least get an entry-level position.”


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After receiving a submission from someone saying he had never met an unemployed Ivy Leaguer, I felt compelled to find more stories of graduates of elite universities who can’t find work. Turns out, it’s not difficult… the more I look, the more I find. Below are about 35 more articles chronicling cases of unemployment, underemployment, poverty, insurmountable debt, and general shock-and-awe stories coming from graduates of top-tier universities.

A new Stanford grad on food stamps

Yale grad: “Turns Out My Ivy League Education Is Worth Squat”

Columbia grad: “$60,000 Ivy League Degree Was Just a Pyramid Scheme”

55-year-old Dartmouth graduate is unemployed and homeless

Harvard Grad Seeks Babysitting Jobs

Princeton grad works at a video store

Dartmouth grad – “Ivy Leaguer Shocked By Likely Future As Burger Flipper”

Stanford grad, unemployed and living with parents, reflects on his first year after graduation

Yale, Penn, George Washington University sue graduates over loan debts that they can’t pay back

Stanford Law school grad turned call girl under house arrest after cheating the government

Emory Law Student Lament: ‘We don’t need donuts, we need jobs.’

Being an Unemployed Ivy League Grad

Even a Yale Pedigree Could Leave One Unemployed

Discussion –how many elite school grads are in those unemployed statistics?

The adventures of an unemployed Columbia grad

Unemployed Duke grad who got a spot on the TV show “The Apprentice” couldn’t even keep that

A self portrait created in 2003 may help this struggling, 2012 Duke graduate to find her way out of poverty

Cornell Grads Find Fewer Jobs, Earn Less Than In Previous Years

“Underemployment hits double digits for schools listed below ninth-ranked University of California, Berkeley.”

From Ivied Halls to Traveling Salesman (includes a UPenn grad)

Fewer University of Chicago and Northwestern law graduates finding jobs at law firms

“It’s interesting when an alumna suggests that a professor at her law school is interfering with her ability to find employment. And it’s downright sensational when the unemployed lawyer is a Stanford Law School graduate.”

9% unemployment for recent Georgetown grads

MIT grad still unemployed after a year

MIT computer science graduate couldn’t find a job

“Six months after graduating from Princeton University, 22-year-old Kati Henderson was still looking for work.”

Georgetown graduate unemployment rises

“Unhappy anniversary: My first year of joblessness” – Recent Johns Hopkins graduate wonders what Congress is doing to help

Discussion – Unemployed or underemployed recent Top-20 college grads

Report: Many Emory Law Students Underemployed After Graduation

“8 months out, no job… I guess my Ivy League Master’s Degree was a waste of money”

Ivy League degree, no job

Life after the Ivy League: Surviving unemployment without losing all self-confidence

Google Is Not Impressed by Your Fancy Ivy League Credentials

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Still dreaming of a spot at Princeton or MIT? Still believe that a diploma from Stanford or Yale will make all your dreams come true? Here are a few more links that might change your mind:

Ivy League Graduates on Food Stamps


Graduating into unemployment

“Nikki Muller, known for her viral YouTube video, “Ivy League Hustle,” still can’t make more than $14 an hour… [she] graduated from both Harvard and Princeton.”


Is an Ivy League Diploma Worth It?


Ivy League degree, no job


30s: Ivy League Unemployed

“Good-bye, Rat race. Good-bye, Bank Account.”


Unemployment Stories, Vol. Three: ‘Absolute Hell’

“I am a mid-30s female with an Ivy League graduate degree. I just received my third layoff in a little over four years.”


Unemployed Banker and Ivy Leaguer Reaches All Time Lows


Scamployment! The e-mail inbox of an Ivy League unemployed


Is the Ivy League a waste of money?

“Princeton professor and economist Alan Krueger set out to prove an Ivy League education paid off. He wound up proving exactly the opposite.”


From Ivy League to Unemployed: How College Grads Should Approach the Job Hunt


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For graduates of top-ranked universities, the experience of admitting that you’re unemployed or otherwise unsuccessful can be mortifying. “Oooh, he went to Yale and he still can’t find a job. What a loser.”

Actually, it’s becoming more common all the time.   Below is just a small sampling of what I’m talking about:

Unemployed Yale Graduate Juggles Startup With Fatherhood

Unemployed Banker And MIT Graduate Peddles On The Street For Job

Here’s a personal rant from a Harvard Law graduate:
Unemployed law student will work for $160k plus benefits

You know things are bad when you’re forced to turn to reality TV to find work:
What to Watch on Thursday: Unemployed Duke grad tries “The Apprentice”

Here’s a blog run by an unemployed Columbia grad. This blog includes stories from many other graduates in the same boat:
Ivy Leagued and Unemployed

Another blog, this one from an unemployed Harvard grad – although this one appears to be neglected.
Roller-Coaster Ride of an Unemployed Harvard Graduate

A blog entry from another unemployed Columbia grad (complete with a comment from yours truly):
Confessions of an Unemployed Ivy-League Graduate

Job-search advice from an unemployed Yale graduate:
From Ivy League to Unemployed: How College Grads Should Approach the Job Hunt

Ivy League Law School Graduate Begs for Work on Craigslist

The about page of a dual-Ivy unemployed lawyer:
The Jobless Lawyer

Someone asks advice for an Ivy League MBA who can’t find work:
Expectations of the unemployed

Here’s one unemployed Ivy Leaguer who seems to have turned things around, at least for the short term:
Unemployed Harvard man auctions debut novel on baseball for $650,000

I have no sympathy for this next person, but it still goes to show that a Harvard degree doesn’t guarantee success:
I’m a Harvard grad who can’t hold a fast-food job

An unemployed Dartmouth grad shares her story:
Want Fries With That Frustration?

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