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名校并非通往成功的唯一门票

Nina Easton 2015年05月07日

那些拼命给孩子请家教,上各种辅导班的家长需要明白,一个人的成功更多地与他求学的自我动力有关,而不光是他上了什么大学。实际上,美国500强榜上排名前10的公司CEO,有9位都是从普通院校起步的。

哈佛商学院的贝克图书馆

    所有拼命请家教、包装自己孩子单薄简历的家长们请注意了:淡定。进名牌大学并不能保证你的子女将获得领导力、成功人生或滚滚财源。您对把孩子送进常青藤之类名校的执迷纯属误入歧途,而且对孩子前景的希望有可能要落空,这是《纽约时报》(New York Times)专栏作家弗兰克•布鲁尼的研究结论。

    在其新著《好学校并非成才捷径:给名校热降温》一书中,布鲁尼向大家展示了美国顶尖领导人的学历,开篇就是财富美国500强企业首席执行官的情况。前十大首席执行官并非哈佛或耶鲁的毕业生,而是分别来自阿肯色大学、德克萨斯大学、加州大学戴维斯分校、内布拉斯加大学、奥本大学、德克萨斯A&M大学、通用汽车学院(现在的凯特琳大学)、堪萨斯大学及密苏里大学圣路易斯分校。只有通用电气的杰弗里•伊梅尔特拥有常青藤名校的学历——达特茅斯大学。

    布鲁尼随后又谈到了白宫的历任主人,他们的名字通常都跟常青藤盟校联系在一起,尤其是耶鲁大学。不过,他提醒大家,奥巴马在就读哥伦比亚大学之前,上的是洛杉矶的西方学院,而吉米•卡特在入读美国海军学院前,分别就读于乔治亚西南学院和乔治亚理工学院。罗纳德•里根上的是伊利诺伊州尤里卡学院;理查德•尼克松是在加州惠特学院拿的学士学位;林登•贝恩斯•约翰逊上的是德州西南师范学院。当然,所有这些听起来都很久远。

    但今天,美国也只有不到三分之一的参议员拥有常青藤本科学位,只有四分之一的州长本科就读于名校。而类似的比例也同样适用于那些左右舆论的大腕们,无论是政治家还是布鲁尼在《纽约时报》的同事(布鲁尼本人也毕业于北卡罗来纳大学,他此前还出过两本畅销书)。

    的确,不少本科就读于普通学院的领导者后来都考入著名的法学院、商学院、医学院等深造。但关键在于,他们是在20岁出头时自觉发奋走上这一条路的——而不是在十几岁时,迫于父母和同学的压力才这么做。

    布鲁尼提醒大家,过于关注孩子14岁到17岁这个年龄段实在荒唐。他说:“高中最后那几年只是人生的一小段,之后的人生道路还长着呢。”

    而且从很多方面看,大型公立学校可能更有助于培养远大抱负,因为这种品质更偏爱自立自强的人。我在哈佛任教时曾惊奇地发现,对那里的学生而言,各种难以置信的机会唾手可得,比如为尼加拉瓜的穷人建造房屋、到白宫去实习。这些学生确实天资聪颖、有上进心,应该得到这些机会。但尽管我正在上大型公立大学的儿子在寻找类似机会方面必须竭尽全力,但他做的毫不逊色,他高中时曾当过志愿消防队员、SAT成绩接近满分。

    布鲁尼认为,对多数申请名校的人来说,“名校狂热症”很可能只是浪费时间,最后只会让人心碎。如果你的孩子不是天才或顶尖运动员(最好是某个冷门项目);如果作为父母,你现在或将来都没有财力给学校捐一大笔钱,你既不是名人也不是本校教职人员——这些因素在“招生特别加分项”中共占约55%,那么,你的子女被录取的几率微乎其微。

    长期以来,《美国新闻与世界报道》的大学排行榜被人奉若神明,布鲁尼责备它对名校热起到了推波助澜的作用。在他看来,这些排名主要是基于一些极容易受操控的评价标准,比如录取率(斯坦福大学最新的录取率仅有5.1%),更偏爱那些声誉日衰的有钱院校。他在书中写道:这个排行榜“披着庄重的灰色权威外衣,其实不过是骗子精心编织的外套,”它利用的是人们的不安全感。

    布鲁尼还深入挖掘了一些非名校的公立大学的亮点。比如亚利桑那州立大学通常被人贬为是一所“吃喝玩乐大学”,但实际上在招聘方口碑颇高,不少私营公司在招聘初级职员时都会优先考虑该校学生。

    去年,“盖洛普-普渡指数”调研了三万名毕业生的职业生涯后得出结论:成功更多地与你上大学的动力有关,而不光是你上了什么大学。

    在布鲁尼的结论与此异曲同工——在他的书中,这一点在星巴克首席执行官霍华德•舒尔茨身上获得了充分印证。舒尔茨本人1975年毕业于北密歇根大学,那时他是寝室里唯一的犹太人。作为土生土长的纽约客,舒尔茨眼中的成功秘诀是:“努力保持好奇心。使自己不要止步于熟悉的环境。我大学毕业时,既有自信,也有自知之明,这些都是一所东海岸院校无法带给我的收获,如果那样的话,我只能长成自己从小就熟识的那个圈子里的人。”(财富中文网)

    译者:清远

    审校:任文科

    Message to all you crazed parents desperately hiring tutors and padding your kid’s thin resume: Chillax. Attending an elite college is no guarantee of leadership, life success or earnings potential. Your obsession with getting your kid into an Ivy or Ivy-lookalike is “warped” and—given a largely fixed system—likely hopeless, concludes New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.

    In his new book “Where You Go is Not Who You’ll be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania,” Bruni takes us on a tour of the alumni status of top American leaders, starting with Fortune 500 CEO’s. The CEO’s of the top 10 (as of mid-2014) hail as undergrads not from Harvard and Yale but from the University of Arkansas; the University of Texas; the University of California, Davis; the University of Nebraska; Auburn; Texas A&M, the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University); the University of Kansas; and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Only GE’s Jeffrey Immelt collected a four-year Ivy degree—from Dartmouth.

    Bruni’s tour then moves to occupants of the White House, names usually associated with the Ivies, especially Yale. He reminds us that Obama first went to L.A.’s Occidental College before graduating from Columbia, and that Jimmy Carter attended Georgia Southwestern College and Georgia Tech on his way to the Naval Academy. Ronald Reagan attended tiny Eureka College in Illinois; Richard Nixon got his bachelor’s from California’s Whittier College; LBJ attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College. Those were different times, certainly.

    But today fewer than a third of Senators have an Ivy-caliber undergrad degrees, and only a quarter of governors first attended elite colleges. Similar numbers apply to influence-makers ranging from political strategists to Bruni’sNew York Times colleagues. (Bruni, who has written two best-selling books before this, graduated from the University of North Carolina.)

    It’s true that many of the leaders who started at non-elite colleges as undergrads later attended prominent graduate schools in law, business, medicine and so on. But the point is that they found their own way there—as young men and women in their early 20s, not teenagers pressed into action by parents and peers.

    Bruni reminds us of the absurdity of obsessing over a kid’s 14- to 17-year-old stage in life. “Those last years of high school are just one short stretch of a life with many passages before it and many to come,” he notes.

    And in many ways big public schools can even be incubators for ambition because they favor self-starters. I’ve been awed by the incredible opportunities that automatically float to the Harvard undergrads I once taught–-from building homes for the poor in Nicaragua to landing prime White House internships. Yes, these kids are smart and motivated and deserving. But so is my high-school volunteer firefighter son with near perfect SAT scores—and he has to hunt and peck for similar opportunities at his big public university. (I had the same experience attending UC Berkeley.)

    Bruni concludes that the “admissions hysteria” is likely a waste of time, and certain heartbreak, for most applicants to elite schools. If your child is not a legacy or top athlete (preferably in an obscure sport); if you as a parent are not a current or prospective donor, or a celebrity, or faculty—all adding up to about 55% of “special consideration admissions”—the odds of admission are slim indeed.

    He blames the biblical power of the US News & World Report rankings for feeding the admissions mania. Those ratings, he asserts, rely on easily –manipulated criteria like acceptance rates (Stanford has set a new extreme in exclusiveness at 5.1%) and favor wealthy institutions with vestigial reputations. The US News ratings “don a somber gray suit of authority, but it’s a hustler’s threads,” he writes…”exploiting people’s insecurities.”

    Bruni also dives deep to offer some surprises on non-elite public schools. Arizona State University, typically dismissed as a party-school, actually ranks high with private sector recruiters looking for entry-level talent.

    Last year’s Gallup-Purdue Index surveyed 30,000 graduates on their careers and concluded that success relies less on where you go to college than how you go to college.

    That’s largely Bruni’s conclusion—and it’s one echoed in his book by accomplished leaders like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, a 1975 graduate of Northern Michigan University (where he was the only Jewish kid in his dorm). Here’s what the Brooklyn-born Schultz offered as a recipe for success: “Be as curious as you can. Put yourself in situations where you’re not just yielding to what’s familiar. I came out of college with a level of confidence and self-understanding that I don’t think I could have possibly gotten from an East Coast school, where I would have been among the kind of people I grew up with and lived near.”


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