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Is Harvard better than a community college?

 
Greenhorn
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I'm researching for argumentative essay, in which I'm trying to say that a community college graduate can beat out a Harvard graduate in the job market. Does anyone know if this is possible? Would employers hire an inspired, experienced candidate with a degree from a low-profile institution over a fresh Ivy League grad?
 
Author & Gold Digger
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Moving this to the Jobs discussion forum. Please continue this discussion there. Thank you
 
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Is there as much snobbery in the US as in the UK? Because here a degree from Oxford or Cambridge would set you up for life with a job from some posh financial institution or some such. They wouldn't be competing in the same job market as an experienced person a lesser university. There tend to be jobs that require top grades from school and a degree from Oxford / Cambridge.
 
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Hi John,
You might find my situation interesting.
I have an IT diploma from ITI. Since then I have gotten 2 java certifications. I don't even have a degree. One of my fellow coders on the last project I worked on has a masters in Economics from Oxford. She has quite a bit more IT experience than myself, but she is from China, and her english is not great. (How she got a masters from Oxford with her english the way it is, is beyond me).
Anyway, over the past year and half, I have worked hard and managed to get some responsibility team leading and composing architecural documents for our client. I have just signed a job offer with another firm in the city I am living in for $28,000 a year more than what I was previously making. My current employer counter offered with something very close, requiring that I transfer, which was unacceptable to me. I think this new salary beats, or is at least on par with what my colleage with the degree from Oxford is making.
From my experience, what you make depends on:
- The type of company you work for. Big consulting companies (at least the one I'm leaving) don't pay as much as smaller software development companies.
- How successfully you market yourself. Your resume, written properly, can get a lot of good attention. The job interview also goes a long way to helping a company decide how much you're worth to them.
- How much responsibility you're willing to accept, and how you apply yourself. If you're known for getting the job done quick and well, you'll become a desired asset in the IT community, whether you've got a fancy degree or not.
Perry
 
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I'm researching for argumentative essay, in which I'm trying to say that a community college graduate can beat out a Harvard graduate in the job market. Does anyone know if this is possible? Would employers hire an inspired, experienced candidate with a degree from a low-profile institution over a fresh Ivy League grad?


John,
YES- a community college grad can and will beat out a Harvard grad.
Why?
Because:
1. They are cheaper.
2. More compliant (do what they are told - without loftly expectations of what the work place is supposed to be like)
Kevin
 
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So would you hire 10 cheaper and compliant guys or one competent guy?

Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:

John,
YES- a community college grad can and will beat out a Harvard grad.
Why?
Because:
1. They are cheaper.
2. More compliant (do what they are told - without loftly expectations of what the work place is supposed to be like)
Kevin

 
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The place somebody graduated from doesn't hold any particular amount of weight for many. There are a thousand factors that go into choosing a successful candidate, and to be honest, the college/university somebody graduated from isn't the highest on the list of these factors. Far more important are things like work experience, technical knowledge, character, and communication skills. Can this person fit into a team? Can he fill the role he's being hired to fill? Can he or she grow in the company and be a long term asset? An instant turnoff would be somebody who's overly impressed with themselves about the school they went to (that goes under the "character" heading I mentioned previously).
Somebody from a "name brand" school is likely going to have some advantages. For one thing, they are likely to have had a better opportunity for choice internships, thus potentially giving them a leg-up in the experience department. Whether or not the graduate from the name brand school chose to take advantage of these greater opportunities varies from person to person though. The person who is presented with the greater opportunities yet fails to take advantage of them would be someone to avoid if I was doing the hiring.
 
High Plains Drifter
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The big advantage I can see in attending in Harvard is in who you might meet. Depending on the circles you run in, you're may run into some people for whom power, money, fame, political influence are familiar. Certainly you'd expect to run into more than your fair share of talent and ambition at such a place as well.
But I don't think the institution points all that well to individual achievement -- just likelihoods and opportunties. One would think a Harvard degree would speak well to industries or social circles where prestige, as well as ability, are essential commodities.
Given two resumes, however, one from a person with an AS degree from De Anza and one with a BS degree from Harvard, I'd still interview both. I just might interview the Harvard person first, if only because we don't see so many Harvard people in my line of work and I'd be curious. But I certainly wouldn't stop short of talking to the one from De Anza just cause someone from Harvard was on my dance card.
 
Greenhorn
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Hi,
I belive any student from anywhere can beat any other student from anywhere. That means.. its all individual skills. Not from harvard or not from lesser college.
 
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Hi,
I think it has to do with connections. Otherwise, your parents will not empty out their saving for you. They want you to have an edge before you even graduate from such institution. But you have to carry your own weight as well. No matter what take advantage of intern jobs, it may delay your graduation day. But it worth every pennies. If you attend Harvard, the possibility for you to land a unique intern job is far more than community college.
Regards,
MCao
 
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Some schools are going to attract better students and the competition is going to be more intense.
I hear there are high dollar schools where you can buy a degree and there are state schools where the peptic ulcer is free.
 
John Pray
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Wow! Thanks to everyone who replied. I just found this site today, and I posted my message, expecting no replies, but instead, I have plenty of ideas and info for my paper.
 
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I'd say that Harvard has different teaching methods.
As I understand it the model is to give the student 'cases' which relate to real business problems/tasks. You then work in a team to prepare the 'case' and present it in class, then discuss thought processes, 'real world' solutions.
Ok, this teaching model does exist in other MBA courses, and really the 'top 10 schools' are all very highly respected, its not that Harvard is special (as opposed to Stanford/Wharton/Insead etc).
An MBA is not an excercise in 'personal learning', it's about learning to work in a team, managing time, consensual solutions, networking etc, etc.
Perry, was that MSc from 'Oxford Brooks University'? - it's not 'Oxford University'!
 
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As far as Oxford Master Degrees go, you might find this interesting.
I live there at the mo, and came across the syllabus for the MSc in Software Engineering. Cost is approx 60000 sterling, and none of the modules teach diddly squat that a competent programmer couldn't teach themselves in a weekend with an O'Reilly book.
However if you have a year and 6g to spare you will have the wank factor of an Oxford degree, but not much else.
Here you regularly see ads asking for an Oxford or Cambridge first, but they tend to be the blue chip consultancies ( the guys who cock up all those high profile projects) and they have a preference for highly academic nerds without much of a life outside of study/work.
Also the Oxford tution system is based around individual tuition, how many students wouldn't get a good degree under this system?
 
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I don't believe that Harvard is a proper comparison. There is another school in Cambridge which is much better at producing programmers.
MIT. To be honest, based upon what I've seen I'd take a long look at someone from MIT or Berkeley or Carnegie-Mellon before I'd look at anyone from Harvard or any of the Ivies other than Cornell or maybe Penn. People from these places are more likely to know how to program than a Harvard grad. Most of the Big Ten schools are pretty good and I'd look at anyone from most of the University of California campuses, or Texas Austin.
The prestigious universities tend to specialize in other things than programming.
 
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Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:
Most of the Big Ten schools are pretty good and I'd look at anyone from most of the University of California campuses, or Texas Austin.


Funny you should mention UT-Austin. I was a team lead on several projects in which one of the members of my team had a MSCS from UT-Austin. He was not very competant in many areas, and extremely lazy to boot. For the life of me, I could not understand how this person made it through college - let alone a graduate program from a highly acclaimed engineering school such as UT-Austin. I guess it just goes to show you that some people are better at education than they are in the real world, and that degrees can be a definate factor when judging a person's skills, but should not be the major factor.
Edit: I should also mentoin that I only have a BSCS from a state university, and have excelled past others with higher educational accolades in the workplace. Just another example of educational skills vs. real-world skills vs. the individual.
[ December 18, 2003: Message edited by: Stephen Pride ]
 
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:
Most of the Big Ten schools are pretty good and I'd look at anyone from most of the University of California campuses, or Texas Austin.


Score! They have an intensely competitve engineering school, not that I attended it.
 
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Disclaimer: I went to MIT.
There was an article about a year ago regarding some research in this field. It basically said there are people who are going to be successful irregardless of where they go to school. There happens to be a correlation between success and brand name schools, but that the causality is that successful people go to those schools, not that those schools breed successful people.
Consider, for example, physics. Do you think Iowa State university teaches different physics than MIT? Maybe MIT has slightly better research opportunities, especially compared to a teaching college, but that's about it.
Now a brand name school does offer two things: a filter and networking. The filter is a general "intelligence"* filter. Now there are certainly intelligent people at non-brand name schools, and I've met some pretty dumb people at MIT, but by and large, for any randomly selected person the intelligence EV is higher for someone at a brand name school. It is for this reason that some companies actively recruit only at brand name schools.
Networking is simply having better connections. A school like MIT, for example, has a large number of leaders in science and technology (although MIT happens to be lacking in government and business leaders, but the other ivy schools have plenty of them). Some of the people I met in college will be tomorrows leaders. Again, not everyone will be, and you might find such a leader at a community college, but the probability that any given person will be a leader is higher at a brand name school.
--Mark

*Before you jump all over me, I'm using "intelligence" as a general, catch-all term for people with good grades, high SATs scores, etc. Maybe you think these things do correlate to intelligence, maybe not, but that's a different discussion. For this discussion, I'm defining intelligence in this manner.
 
Mark Herschberg
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Originally posted by Simon Lee:
I'd say that Harvard has different teaching methods.
As I understand it the model is to give the student 'cases' which relate to real business problems/tasks. You then work in a team to prepare the 'case' and present it in class, then discuss thought processes, 'real world' solutions.


The case method is pretty much only used in the MBA program. The undergraduate college does not use it.
--Mark
 
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Getting into Oxford is nothing to do with intelligence for most, it's privellige. An Oxbridge degree sets people up for life even if they only just pass.
The 'filter' in England is getting out of a shitty secondary school and studying a degree. Not attending a private school before going on to Oxford.
Tony
[ December 18, 2003: Message edited by: Tony Collins ]
 
Perry McKenzie
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Simon, just to clarify - that was Oxford in England. When John originally started this discussion, he was focusing on Ivy league schools. I tend to lump Oxford into that league, even though it definitely is not part of that group.
 
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