At a time when people don’t know who to listen to and who to trust, let credentials lead the way.
Credentials establish a path of the past through a person’s work history; education; and ability to do a job intelligently, efficiently and with integrity. They are not just a piece of paper bearing a name and a graduation date. The certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate degree may mean much more than what you see on the surface.
That piece of paper, depending on the institution issuing it, can also be meaningless.
Numerous for-profit schools and trade schools of all kinds have appeared on the scene. Regardless of the names used by the schools, they are far from equal.
This is where research into rankings is not only handy but required to understand the value of the school and what it will bring to one’s marketability in the workplace.
“THE World University Rankings, founded in 2004, provide the definitive list of the world’s best universities, with an emphasis on the research mission.” Data experts evaluate these world-class universities against 13 separate performance indicators, including teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.
The list offers subject-specific rankings for more than 1,500 institutions. Nearly every school and its subjects have rankings. A person can search for best colleges, best college football, top national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities, regional colleges, best MBA programs, best reputations and even best-value schools.
The plethora of groupings may seem overwhelming and too much to research, but rankings will help direct students to the schools that are right for them, taking into account their grade-point average, test scores, interests and budget. The order of school rankings changes slightly according to the category, but there is no reason to split hairs with certain school rankings; the top is the top.
On the national university ranking list appear the following: Princeton University, Harvard University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Duke University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, Rice University and many more.
Rankings tell students their education will be valuable as they work their lives through corporate America, whether in finance on Wall Street, on medical research, on business through an MBA program, in technology or engineering to create the latest innovation, or on research in any number of other fields. A low ranking may serve as a warning that the money on tuition will be a bad investment into the future.
Choosing the right school can lay forth a path to success if the student has chosen what suits their interests, abilities and talents.
Clearly, not every student is destined for a successful path, and coercing a student into a field inappropriate for their abilities is as detrimental as forcing Cinderella’s glass slipper onto the wrong foot. Following the rankings ensures finding the best and happiest fit for a person’s future.
A sad example is about a student who wanted nothing but to be a chef, so he chose to attend a known cooking school. When he told his father his dream for the future, the dad hurled insults at his son, making sure his son felt miserable for his decision.
Within the first year, the father accomplished his mission and humiliated his son to the point of quitting his only dream. This sounds like a terrible act to commit against a child, but it is more common that people know.
Attending an Ivy League or top 10 school is not for everyone, whether due to grades, test scores, ability, motivation, desires or available funds. But being encouraged to take control of one’s own future is crucial for development.
Many students may not be emotionally mature enough to make such decisions, which is where assessment tests can help determine the direction.
Sometimes, a break before committing to a school is the best prescription for learning what the world of work has to offer a person, based on their needs and characteristics. It gives a young person the separation and independence needed to manage life on their own, to see others’ choices beyond their personal background and world, and to bring an outsider’s reality to life.
That is when maturing takes hold and wise decisions can be made at any age.
Lindsey Novak is a certified life and executive coach and a nationally syndicated workplace columnist.