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The (Negative) Value of a Good Education

Posted in Uncategorized by teslik on October 8, 2007

The Financial Times says one of the biggest obstacles in the way of the U.K. Conservative Party’s wunderkind David Cameron, as he works to win British parliament back for the Tories and unseat Gordon Brown as prime minister, may be Cameron’s primo education. Cameron attended Eton, an old-line British boarding school with a storied, and somewhat stodgy, reputation. Given his schooling, the article says, Cameron carries all kinds of cultural baggage, particularly considering Britain’s “enduring and complex obsession with class.”

It would be easy to take the United States as a cultural counterpoint–especially given that the 2004 U.S. presidential race pitted two members of the same Yale social club against one another. But the New York Times points out that in 2008, America too has produced candidates with more populist educational upbringings. Only two of the 2008 primary candidates attended an Ivy League school for their undergraduate education (Barack Obama and Mike Gravel, each of whom studied at Columbia University).

So, just how crippling is the posh-factor? And to the extent that the same kind of anti-elitist thinking enters the job market more generally, at what point should students start considering the “friendliness” of a school’s image before registering?

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