Tag Archives: university

Entrepreneurial Success Not Correlated to University Prestige

An analysis of the educational backgrounds of tech company founders has shown that an elite education  does not provide as much of an advantage as many expect. In fact the results seem to show that where one studies has no correlation to entrepreneurial success, as long as one actually does study.

The 628 U.S.-born tech founders [surveyed] received their education from 287 unique universities. Almost every major U.S. university was represented. The top ten institutions in this group accounted for only 19 percent of the entire sample. In other words, 81% of the tech company founders came from “regular” schools. […]

The average sales revenue of all startups in one of our samples was around $5.7 million, and these companies employed an average of forty-two workers. Startups established by tech founders with Ivy League degrees had average sales and employment of $6.7 million and fifty-five workers, respectively. The success of these two groups markedly contrasted with startups established by tech founders with only a high school degree. Those founders had average revenues and employees of $2.2 million and eighteen, respectively. […] In other words, it didn’t matter so much if you graduated from an Ivy. What made the greatest difference was having a higher degree.

Similar results were uncovered in an analysis of company founders from India and China.

The analysis also challenges the belief that entrepreneurs start their ventures fresh out of full-time education, with the following results shown for how long after graduation different graduates found their companies:

  • MBA graduates: 13-15 years
  • Computer Science/IT graduates:  13 years
  • Bachelor’s degree holders: 17 years
  • Applied science majors: 20 years
  • PhD holders: 21 years

The crux of the argument: “The Ivy-Leaguers may be able to get their buddies from [big-name VC firms] to return emails, but they aren’t going to be any more successful at building companies.”

University of the People

Three weeks ago the United Nations announced the launch of the world’s first tuition-free online university; the University of the People.

With a high school diploma and a sufficient level of English as entry requirements, students from over 52 countries have already enrolled.

Students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss its themes with their peers and take a test all online. There are voluntary professors, post-graduate students and students in other classes who can also offer advice and consultation.

The only charge to students is a $15 to $50 admission fee, depending on their country of origin, and a processing fee for every test ranging from $10 to $100. For the University to sustain its operation, it needs 15,000 students and $6 million, of which Mr. Reshef [the university’s founder] has donated $1 million of his own money.

This is exciting.

The Higher Education ‘Bubble’

Is the current ‘value’ of higher education artificially inflated and unsustainable? In other words, could higher education be the next ‘bubble to burst’? The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at some of the early warning signs that seem to be suggesting so, and offers a couple of solutions to this apparently looming crisis.

Over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent — more than four times the rate of inflation and almost twice the rate of medical care. […]

Meanwhile, the middle class, which has paid for higher education in the past mainly by taking out loans, may now be precluded from doing so as the private student-loan market has all but dried up. In addition, endowment cushions that allowed colleges to engage in steep tuition discounting are gone. Declines in housing valuations are making it difficult for families to rely on home-equity loans for college financing. Even when the equity is there, parents are reluctant to further leverage themselves into a future where job security is uncertain.

Consumers who have questioned whether it is worth spending $1,000 a square foot for a home are now asking whether it is worth spending $1,000 a week to send their kids to college.

Grade Inflation

With news that Cambridge University is to demand A* grades at A-Level as a prerequisite for entry (a grade that currently doesn’t exist), there is much in the news about ‘grade inflation’.

However “grade inflation” is actually the answer; the problem is “grade distortion”:

True grade inflation would mean each grade was equally devalued, with A grades superseded by AA, AAA and AAAA as new labels for superlative performance became necessary. One hundred per cent would become 110 per cent.

Yet examiners are reluctant to award 110 per cent and there are no AAAA grades. What we see is not inflation but a classic price distortion. Eventually all students will get A grades and they will be meaningless. A* grades are a small, belated step in the right direction.

Grade distortion is a serious affair. Students and their teachers are forced to switch to grey market transactions denominated in alternative currencies: the letter of recommendation, for example. Like most alternative currencies, these are a hassle.

Grade distortions, like price distortions, destroy information and oblige people to look in strange places for some signal amid the noise. Students are judged not on their strongest subjects – A grade, of course – but on whether they also picked up A grades in their weakest. When excellence cannot be displayed, plaudits go instead to those who deliver pat answers without stumbling.

Online Lectures from Around the World

I’m a huge fan of the MIT Open Courseware site. Full of great material and insightful lectures, it helped me immeasurably when I decided to brush up on my Spanish.

Thanks to the hive mind over at MetaFilter, a great list has now been produced linking to similar collections around the world. Check out the YouTube College Lectures discussion for all the suggestions.

via Lifehacker