If you have followed ap.com for any amount of time, you have realized that I really like Paul Graham’s ideas. He has just published an essay where he uses data from his Y! combinator to prove that having a degree from an elite university does not increase your chances of being successful when going for a startup. He argues that the ‘startup test’ is a lot more useful to infer a person’s value than the tests that she needs to pass to e.g., getting good grades during high school or getting accepted in a prestigious college: “a high school record that’s largely an index of obedience”. I agree. I think his logic is impeccable.
This new essay just adds on his idea of “prestige is just fossilized brilliance”. Elite institutions capitalize on prestige, but it is not clear -at least from Paul’s analysis- that prestige converts well into real-life success, which I guess is what companies try to hire for. I think academics fight for prestige (clearly, money is not the currency they fight for!). And I think prestige is the wrong thing to look for!