This is a hugely informative article of interest to anybody considering either university entry, career choices, or both.

Some quotes to consider with regard to careers at highly prestigious firms, or in competitive fields:

“What ends up happening is that firms create lists. So there’s a school list, and on the list there are cores and there are targets. Cores are generally the most prestigious schools; targets are highly prestigious schools. Cores receive the most love. But basically if you’re not from one of these cores or target schools it’s extremely hard to get into one of these firms.”

I can attest to witnessing this process in action while I was helping my students at Columbia get placements at prestigious firms (and also while I was an undergrad at Durham).

There are ways around this, however. It involves getting yourself a mentor or sponsor at a prestigious firm:

“The list may vary from firm to firm but they are convinced that the schools on their lists are the best schools. So sticking to that list you might miss some people, for them it seems like a pretty good solution. But in terms of inequality, what ends up happening is if you’re not at one of those schools, the only way to really get into one these firms is to have a personal connection to someone who already works there.”

But, as admissions consultants and career placement specialists, at Duart we know that however ‘elitist’ this process appears, there’s also a problem. It’s to do with rankings, and the admissions practices at elite universities. The author goes on to admit as much:

“There’s lots of different types of schools out there and prestige is one metric especially with national rankings now that is easily quantifiable. You have a list of top 10 schools, you can say “Okay someone else told me these are the best, I can justify not looking anywhere else…”

Before focusing on the core of the problem:

“But what’s wrong with it is that I don’t think people understand the extent to which elite university admissions are biased against individuals from lower-income backgrounds… Some of the things that matter most in getting into an elite college—whether it’s your SAT score, your extra-curricular participation, the actual high school you attended—are so strongly influenced by social class that you’re not necessarily getting the best and the brightest. You’re getting good and bright people who come from the most privileged backgrounds.”

So, read this article carefully. It tells you a lot that you need to recognize before you get involved in either the university admissions or career placement processes. These are increasingly tricky processes to navigate, but with the right expertise and, not least, a willingness to learn, the rewards are worth it.

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