Thursday, September 24, 2015

Depressing But Probably True

The best but most depressing thing I've read today: Why are working class kids less likely to get elite jobs? They study too hard in college.

It's a Washington Post interview with Lauren Rivera, author of a book called Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs. She outlines one reason working-class students don't get the elite jobs, even if they make it to an elite school:

[they] are less likely to participate in structured extracurricular activities than their more privileged peers while growing up (and when they do, they tend to participate in fewer of them).... Given that [elite] employers—which offer some of the highest-paying entry-level jobs in the country—recruit almost exclusively at top schools, many students who focus purely on their studies will be out of the game long before they ever apply to firms. Second, employers also use extracurricular activities, especially those that are driven by “passion” rather than academic or professional interest and require large investments of time and money over many years, to screen résumés. But participation in these activities while in college or graduate school is not a luxury that all can afford, especially if someone needs to work long hours to pay the bills or take care of family members. Essentially, extracurriculars end up being a double filter on social class that disadvantages job applicants from more modest means both in entering the recruiting pipeline and succeeding within it.
This makes me think of all the Ivy League graduates who immediately go off to start some nonprofit based on their "passion," usually parachuting into a struggling community with their lady-bountiful ambitions. Ready for their photo op with all those children of color. That i, if they didn't start such an organization while still in high school.

As if that wasn't enough, there's this question, based on content from Rivera's book, for more depressing news:
Your book finds an enormous difference in how many recruiters at elite firms treat graduates from a tiny number of prestigious colleges, and how they treat everyone else. Candidates who “chose” to go to a lower ranked school are seen by some recruiters as having demonstrated moral failure. 
Moral failure?! For choosing to go to your state university, for instance?

This reminds me of a tweet I just saw by someone called @satellitehigh:
In the tech world ‘bad culture fit’ means ‘we don’t like you for reasons that would be illegal if we explained them clearly.’

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