Are graduates of elite colleges worth the money it takes to hire them?
February 4, 2021 - By Dr. Di
Many hiring organizations default to interviewing only graduates from the most prestigious universities because, when sifting through thousands of resumes, it’s easier to assume that the best universities produce the best employees. Is that hypothesis true?
Four researchers (Taras, Shah, Gunkel, and Tavoletti) recently reported in the Harvard Business Review that for elite grads, job performance is only slightly (maybe 1-2%) higher than it is for candidates from schools ranking far below the top ones—schools like most of us go to. Plus, companies have to pay a lot higher starting salaries to these elite grads—maybe $25,000 or more in some cases. Sure, there are some firms that really need the prestige in their ranks to be competitive–take high-ticket law firms or big techs. So, they pay the price. It’s true that elite grads may well have had better training, having studied among super-stars.
But here’s the downside: The researchers found some elite grads seem to focus more on theories, rather than best practice, and can neglect the human aspects of teamwork. They may act superior and not work as well with other team members as the lower-ranked college grads do. They may be “all business” and even cause conflict in their
teams. So, companies have to ask the big question, “Is the slight increase in technical performance worth the money?” It may not be.