Times are changing. With technology and the increased access to information, the decision to pay for education is being questioned. We often think an elite education is worth it--with access to top professors, libraries full of books, and a network of people who will help us on our way to the top.
But before one decides to invest over 100k in an elite education, it's worth learning and knowing the ways it can actually hinder your success. As the business world evolves, the key skills that top companies are looking for in superstar hires is the ability to generate innovative ideas, collaborate well with diverse groups of people, and be engaged with their work. Does an elite education help with that?
Here are 3 ways an elite education can work against your ability to be successful in those specific ways:
1. Elite education makes you less open to diversity.
While the top schools of the nation do open their doors to people of all nationalities, races, and socioeconomic statuses, you're enveloped in a world of a certain type of sharp thinkers. You are surrounded by, and encouraged to think of yourself as, "the best and the brightest"--lending a sense of separation and even disdain for anything other and the ordinary.
It's that lack of diversity in educational class that is troublesome. Many students graduate from elite colleges unable to carry a simple conversation with someone not from their own educational world. They are less likely to recognize and appreciate the great thinking and genius that occurs outside the ivy walls. There are tons of smart people who don't go to elite colleges, and there are many types of intelligence that don't quite fit into the requirements for acceptance to elite schools. We must be open to all types of intelligence--to understand the value of all people in society and their unique experiences.
2. Your thinking is shaped by the rules rather than influenced by the desire to follow your own path.
To get into an elite school, you have to jump through all the right hoops in all the right ways--from scoring well on the SATs and GREs, to getting the right internships, to saying the right things on interviews. Society is inundated with tips and tricks on navigating this path to the school acceptance, and there is a booming industry of tutors, consultants and coaches all geared toward helping you make it to the top.
This entire process of gaining acceptance to elite schools primes us with the idea that there is only one right way of doing things. It only gets worse once we get to school, where we are absorbed into the competition for the same internships and coveted jobs. There are just a handful of professions deemed worthy to pursue.
This type of thinking keeps us from pursuing work we love. When you refuse to prioritize joy and fulfillment in your work, your performance suffers. In the race to the "top," you might actually get stuck in mediocrity.
3. Elite education promotes a fixed mindset.
Elite education pushes us to believe that where we fall on the scale of standardized tests and college rankings automatically determines our worth and the level of success that we should aspire to.
But this is not true! Having this fixed mindset is actually one of the worst things we can do for our performance and impact in life. In her research, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck discovered than an essential quality of success a growth mindset--the belief that you can always improve and that success is more about effort than predetermined factors.
Look beyond your grades and how you stack up against your peers. Focus on how you can improve your performance, little by little.