By Cliff Ennico
It’s graduation time at most colleges and universities, and that inevitably brings up the subject of . . . jobs.
If you’re thinking of hiring a recent college grad (and honestly, there is nothing better you can do to ensure the future of American business, except maybe hiring a military veteran), you care about what’s on his or her resume. You want to know what the candidate studied, what his or her grades were, what their extracurricular activities were, any related work or internship experience, etc., etc.
You also care about the candidate’s character, work ethic, and other personal characteristics that will help him or her make a positive contribution to your company.
If you are like most employers, you probably also care about the reputation of the college the candidate attended, its strength or weakness in certain disciplines, and how it ranks on the U.S. News and World Report annual listing of “America’s Top Colleges”.
But let me tell you something. Placing too much reliance on those college rankings can be a big mistake. When it comes to colleges, there is reputation, and there is what actually happens there.
Take, for example, the following two colleges.
College # 1 has been racked by public relations disasters. Its most recent president left after only two years for a high profile Government job, and its Dean left after only three years to take a much less prestigious job at a much smaller college. It is cited frequently in articles dealing with fraternity/sorority hazing, drunkenness, date rape, racist and sexist behavior, a rampant sense of entitlement, and student violence.
Recently a group of students took over the President’s office at College # 1 and staged a sit-in. According to a student publication, the protestors harangued the president for hours without stating a clear agenda or making concrete demands – merely stating instead how uncomfortable they were to be at that college, which they perceived as a bastion of “white, male, heterosexual” supremacy even though a majority of students are female and/or minorities. Here are some of the student comments (quoted ver batim):
“Um, when you come to the rescue? Of another older man, the head of a historically, prestigiously, exclusively white institution, um, who’s had a history in the economies of slavery and genocide being that this school was founded on Native Americans. Like when you come to the rescue of another white man, from the scary brown people who are demanding justice, right, like that is problematic.”
“I would like to know that you, Mr. President, would be cool with me being cool and safe and not experiencing violence and harassment and assault of my character and person and being every day on this campus.”
“You are the president. You were brought into this office through structures that oppress the rest of the people in this room.”
“I’m not playing by the rules right now. I’m sitting here talking to you, we’re snapping our fingers, we’re interrupting. But that just proves how passionate we are!”
“When you talk about like, oh, oh, just calm down, oh, don’t interrupt people, be civil, you are not living the things that we have lived to force us to speak up. And to force us to interrupt. If you’re gonna say something right now, I’m sorry, I don’t really care, I will talk over you. Why? Because people are gonna listen to you more than they will ever listen to me.”
College # 2 hardly ever makes the news. It’s a good bet that you’ve never heard of it. Its focus is on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and its multiracial, multiethnic student body comes mostly from working class and lower middle class backgrounds, including many recent immigrants to the U.S. It boasts rapidly expanding graduate schools in business, criminal justice, and engineering.
There are no protests at College # 2. In the words of its current president, who has presided over a decade-long expansion of the college’s facilities and explosive growth in its endowment, “our students work extremely hard, because they value the opportunity we’re giving them, and they are genuinely grateful to be here.”
Recently, when a student at College # 2 lost both her parents in a freak auto accident, the faculty, students, administration and alumni/ae banded together and raised money for a special scholarship fund to help her finish her education. This was not reported in any newspaper or magazine anywhere.
College # 1 is Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school which universally tops the lists of America’s most prestigious educational institutions (www.dartmouth.edu).
College # 2 is the University of New Haven, a small private college that has little or no visibility outside of the State of Connecticut (www.newhaven.edu).
If presented with candidates from both of these colleges, which would you choose? Historically, if you based your decisions on college rankings, you probably would choose the candidate from Dartmouth.
Based on this column, would you still do the same?
Cliff Ennico (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.