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View Diary: Yale, Harvard, Political Dynasty and the Case for Civic Media (13 comments)

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  •  Two reasons (0+ / 0-)
    1.  Smart people attract smart people.  Generally, a smart person feels they will learn better in an environment with other smart people.
    1.  Smart people realize that going to the "smart school" gives them a leg up.  They recognize that a B+ from Harvard is worth more than an A from Michigan.  For the most part, this is a cultural bias not based in any real truth, but if people believe it, then it may as well be true, sadly enough.
    •  That was much more true generations ago... (0+ / 0-)

      Research has worked for quite a while separated from spatial location. As a student, your primary interest from an educational viewpoint is finding good mentors, something that is actually more difficult at an elite institution where the ratio of smart students to smart mentors is larger than a second-class school. That's due to the simple fact that almost everyone who has an academic job is already at the head of the "smartness" curve for their specialty.

      Number two is just another way of talking about social networking. It's not the B from Harvard versus the A from Michigan, but the "from Harvard" versus the "from Michigan". If you go to Harvard, you will have peers that will rule the nation and the world; if you go to Michigan, you have peers who will work for the Harvard guys; if you go to the University of Florida, you will have peers who will run the state of Florida (and therefore will be working for the guys from Michigan who work for the guys from Harvard).

      No one gives a damn about grades, other than that yours were decent enough, that you weren't a huge slacker. Smart people know this. But institutional connections can last a lifetime in any field.

      Outside of networking, the other big difference between elite institutions and lower levels isn't at the level of smart people directly accessed, but the administrators and bureaucrats that back them up. In those cases, there's a sharp gradient between Harvard and UF. The support staff are much, much smarter at elite institutions, a little considered factor. They are attracted by smart people, because you can be pretty damn slow and still be a high-ranking bureaucrat.

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