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Memo To Brown, Cornell And MIT Grads: You're Not Good Enough

First Posted: 01/11/11 04:12 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

Job Recruiters

Think your Brown, Cornell or MIT degree carries weight in the professional world? Think again.

According to a forthcoming paper written by Northwestern assistant professor Lauren Rivera, recruiters at top law firms, consulting agencies and investment banks are interested only in students who attended Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Columbia grads might make the cut, but some recruiters told Rivera that they consider the school to be "second-tier" or "just okay," the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

And MIT grads don't stand a chance. According to the Chronicle, one eminent consultant told Rivera:

You will find it when you go to like career fairs or something and you know someone will show up and say, you know, "Hey, I didn't go to HBS [Harvard Business School] but, you know, I am an engineer at M.I.T. and I heard about this fair and I wanted to come meet you in New York." God bless him for the effort but, you know, it's just not going to work.

Rivera found that while recruiters don't particularly care about the quality of applicants' academic records, they do care about extracurricular activities -- but only as long as the applicant graduated from one of the select five schools. And from there, headhunters attempt to filter out "tool[s]" and "bookworm[s]" by targeting those with stellar recreational resumes (crew looks good, ping pong does not).

The Chronicle acknowledges that some firms might be forced to take on these tactics due to the high volume of applications they receive, and assuming that admissions officers have done the legwork in selecting promising individuals may be a defensible stance for recruiters. But the practice leaves most outsiders uncomfortable, and led the Chronicle to question its ethics efficacy and Business Insider to recommend that graduates start their own companies.

What do you think of Rivera's findings? Are they shocking, or expected? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Filed by Danielle Wiener-Bronner  |