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Google Is Not Impressed by Your Fancy Ivy League Credentials


If you’re looking for a job at Google, don’t rest on your Ivy League laurels.

The company is taking a more data-centric approach to understanding what makes for successful hires, in lieu of focusing on degrees or transcripts. “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless—no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” says Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations, in the NYTThis discovery has led Google to hire more people with no college degree at all. Up to 14 percent of some teams are now made up of people who never even attended college.

Bock offered some suggestions about what’s wrong with higher ed:

I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.

Going to college and receiving a degree is still a young person’s best bet for securing gainful employment. But it is telling that one of the nation’s leading tech firms, once known for hiring the best and the brightest from the nation’s top schools, now believes that degrees and test scores are no longer a strong indicator of success. If companies like Google, which are constantly complaining about the lack of skilled workers, don’t think that colleges are preparing kids for the workforce, we should sit up and take notice.

Employers are hungering for innovation, creativity, and leadership—skills and talents that are often acquired outside of academia. High school students (and parents), take note.

[Google office image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Philopoemen

    Employers are hungering for innovation, creativity, and leadership—skills and talents that are often acquired outside of academia.

    Not only that, but these skills and talents are often discouraged in academia. Disagree with a tenured professor – or posit an alternative explanation – at your own peril.

    I worked at a university for years and it was disheartening to see the spark siphoned out of our younger generation.

  • Reverie

    School exposes you to subjects but life refines your decisions. Training is a mix of imparting facts and training thought processes. Schools have a very poor track record at separating fact from opinion and leave many graduates incapable of understanding the difference between the two. From a business standpoint I need coworkers capable of arriving at conclusions that may be at odds with my own and the ability to sell their ideas. I don’t need a professional bookworm.

  • Terrence Wentworth

    This is a misleading headline for a feeble piggy-back story. I was hoping to get some insight on how Ivy League culture extends, or doesn’t, into Google and Silicon Valley, but the original article doesn’t even mention the Ivys. Thanks for nothing.

    • Dan

      Exactly, the article talked only about a lack of correlation between GPA and performance, not a lack of correlation between an “elite” university diploma and performance.

  • qet

    “G.P.A’s” are worthless as “a criteria.”

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. It has been clear for a long time that reading and writing will be largely unnecessary in the new information technology Pet Rock economy that Via Meadia enthusiastically looks forward to and that Google represents. We will evolve in the direction hoped for since the days of Frege, Russell, Quine and other logical positivists. We will come to resemble the machines we have built and the language we have created for the machines will become our own language. Truth tables and logical operators will be all a college grad needs to know to be employable and, therefore, QED, happy.

  • JDogg Snook

    Having interviewed and hired software engineers for the past N years now, the quality of college education is the second best indication of a future employee’s merit. The best indicator is if they grew up learning computer science / programming as a hobby well before high school.

    Also in the Google news right now is how they have ditched brain teasers as part of their interviews. Good. Their interview process (through which I’ve been) was arbitrary, condescending and showed their arrogance. They wouldn’t even answer simple questions about Google except for the well-publicized rah-rah perks you would get.

  • ljgude

    My grandson only discovered computers as a source of making money in the last year of high school. Now he is actually making a little money as he goes off to college. Put it this way, I am so relieved that he will be able to judge what he learns at school against what he does for money and not have to guess where the value is. And I am not saying that he should only value what contributes to making money, just that he will be able to tell them apart before he gets into debt!

  • Jim__L

    Time was, a college education was supposed to “instill character” in students. You learned about the heroes and villains of history, and the principles that they upheld and violated.

    There is a direct connection between declaring this sort of judgement to be passe, and the decline in the usefulness of a liberal education.

    “Don’t be evil”…. can anyone at Google actually articulate what that even means?

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