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Prestige as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue
PREFACE: This thread isn't about UofT and Lakehead specifically. These are just placeholders for a highly prestigious school and a not-so-prestigious school. You could really have any 2 of your favourite schools written in instead.

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Do you think UofT is better than Lakehead?

If you said yes, you sound like a victim of good marketing my friend. From what I know, "prestige" is just a measure of how good a school's marketing is. Then it just comes down to a self-fulfilling prophecy based on that. Read the following anecdote to understand why I argue this.

Consider person X. Person X is someone who is inherently destined to succeed. They think they should go to UofT because UofT's marketing is such that person X is convinced it's the best school in the world. Person X then goes to UofT, graduates, gets a magnificent job and retires young. Meanwhile, UofT is using person X as a part of the data they use to try to persuade you that their institution is superior.

From that marketing, person Y (who is exactly like person X, meaning that person Y is also predisposed to success) also decides to go to UofT. Now suddenly UofT has a lot of highly successful graduates.

Was the success rate because of UofT? No, it was because of UofT's marketing. Person X and person Y would have both likely ended up living successful lives regardless of where they went. As was already mentioned by rightsaidfred, all schools pretty much follow the same curriculum. The only thing different about them is their marketing.

The moral of the story is you shouldn't blindly accept that one school is better than another. Research all schools that offer your program THOROUGHLY. UofT may just be a better school for YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES but please don't apathetically claim that it is superior to other schools. Think critically. Decide for yourself.
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A photo of KingKhan KingKhan
Prestige may not determine how good a school is academically, but it certainly does matter to job employees, having graduated from a prestigious school definitely makes your resume stand out more and therefore gets you employed faster.

If you had to hire one person between two people, and one of them was a McGill graduate while the other was a Nipissing graduate, who would you pick?
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A photo of KeileTheFriendlyMuuMuu KeileTheFriendlyMuuMuu

@KingKhan wrote
Prestige may not determine how good a school is academically, but it certainly does matter to job employees, having graduated from a prestigious school definitely makes your resume stand out more and therefore gets you employed faster.

If you had to hire one person between two people, and one of them was a McGill graduate while the other was a Nipissing graduate, who would you pick?



If I were a smart employer, I would pick whichever candidate has the better grades, resume and interview.

How often is it that the job market produces two candidates so equal in merit that the deciding factor comes down to school prestige? Zero sum games are the stuff of fantasy. McGill's signalling will be strong but the cumulative signalling of relevant metrics will be stronger.
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A photo of uncharted1111 uncharted1111

@Ba Ba Blue wrote
PREFACE: This thread isn't about UofT and Lakehead specifically. These are just placeholders for a highly prestigious school and a not-so-prestigious school. You could really have any 2 of your favourite schools written in instead.

---

Do you think UofT is better than Lakehead?

If you said yes, you sound like a victim of good marketing my friend. From what I know, "prestige" is just a measure of how good a school's marketing is. Then it just comes down to a self-fulfilling prophecy based on that. Read the following anecdote to understand why I argue this.

Consider person X. Person X is someone who is inherently destined to succeed. They think they should go to UofT because UofT's marketing is such that person X is convinced it's the best school in the world. Person X then goes to UofT, graduates, gets a magnificent job and retires young. Meanwhile, UofT is using person X as a part of the data they use to try to persuade you that their institution is superior.

From that marketing, person Y (who is exactly like person X, meaning that person Y is also predisposed to success) also decides to go to UofT. Now suddenly UofT has a lot of highly successful graduates.

Was the success rate because of UofT? No, it was because of UofT's marketing. Person X and person Y would have both likely ended up living successful lives regardless of where they went. As was already mentioned by rightsaidfred, all schools pretty much follow the same curriculum. The only thing different about them is their marketing.

The moral of the story is you shouldn't blindly accept that one school is better than another. Research all schools that offer your program THOROUGHLY. UofT may just be a better school for YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES but please don't apathetically claim that it is superior to other schools. Think critically. Decide for yourself.


Nicely said.
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A photo of ktel ktel

@KingKhan wrote
If you had to hire one person between two people, and one of them was a McGill graduate while the other was a Nipissing graduate, who would you pick?



This is not the decision that is made. The decision is: if I have to interview one of two people, who do I pick? Maybe the more prestigious school. But the school you go to is NOT going to determine who got hired.
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
I don't think it has to do with marketing. U of T, McGill, UBC - these are all schools that have been around for a long time and are located in big cities and therefore can attract more and better professors, staff, and students. Their reputations were established a long time ago and their quality ratings, according to Macleans, Globe & Mail, etc..., have always been high. They don't need to do a lot of marketing to entice the best students in the country.


@KeileTheFriendlyMuuMuu wrote
If I were a smart employer, I would pick whichever candidate has the better grades, resume and interview.



I've had a number of interviews now, and, surprisingly, I've never been asked for a transcript (list of my courses and grades received in them).
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A photo of OscarUK OscarUK
Sounds like someone got rejected from UofT...

Anyway, the idea that the name of a school means NOTHING and is a complete fabrication of a uni's marketing is simply wrong. No it's not the biggest factor, no it's not going to determine your future one way or the other, no it's not a case of UofT or nothing. HOWEVER, the reason these schools have a good reputation is because they attract top staff, is because they have great facilities and is because they are highly rated academically... Therefore to say the education is equal everywhere is not true. Take the equivalent here in the UK; Oxbridge (or any of the top 10 unis)... Students work insanely hard to get to these unis because they know graduate positions and employers recognise that firstly: they worked hard to get there, and secondly: that they received a good education while they were studying there. That's why their job/grad prospects are the highest in the country. It's just being naive to think that "everywhere gives you an equal education" just because the curriculums are similar... History at Cambridge is similar to History at Newcastle, or Sussex, or Kent; does that make them equal? No.

Disclaimer: No I'm not comparing UofT and Cambridge before dumb people claim that.
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@KingKhan wrote
Prestige may not determine how good a school is academically, but it certainly does matter to job employees, having graduated from a prestigious school definitely makes your resume stand out more and therefore gets you employed faster.

If you had to hire one person between two people, and one of them was a McGill graduate while the other was a Nipissing graduate, who would you pick?



The person with more experience, the better interview, and who generally has made the better impression. I wouldn't care if someone went to U of T or Lakehead, the school you go to doesn't determine the type of person you are.
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A photo of Nyx Nyx

@Ba Ba Blue wrote

Consider person X. Person X is someone who is inherently destined to succeed.



The whole premise of your argument is that the people are predisposed to succeed. When does this happen in the real world? How are you too know that the person's success was actually based on inherent ability rather than an environment that fosters success?
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The OP's argument has many faults in it. Nyx pointed out one.

Another flaw in your reasoning is that you assume that perceived prestige is a major (if not, the only) factor when it comes to choosing schools. This is not true for a lot of people. Cost, logistics, environment, unique program etc. can sometimes be a bigger factor than prestige when it comes to choosing schools. There are undoubtedly many brilliant students who go to Lakehead for reasons unrelated to prestige.
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
The last two posters are just nit-picking. Person X is one hypothetical person. The OP is not claiming that U of T has only people like Person X and that Lakehead has no one like Person X; he is just implying that people like Person X make up a greater proportion of U of T's student population than Lakehead's, at least partly because U of T does a better job of attracting people like Person X than Lakehead does. Other people like that a greater proportion of U of T's population is like Person X than Lakehead's population and thus go to U of T rather than Lakehead at least partly for that reason.

Sometimes you can't just solely focus on the words a person has written. A person isn't going to write paragraphs of footnotes following his or her posts. Think a little bit more about what a person is trying to say, not exactly what he or she has said, before you nit-pick his or her argument.
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A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue
This thread was written to get people (hopefully high school students among them) to think critically about what a school's prestige actually is. People say that one school is more prestigious than another seemingly arbitrarily - my hope was that people would question it, even if they don't end up changing their mind in the end.

The reason for this is because I was accepted to all the schools that I applied to and almost went to a school because of a better "reputation". It was only after I spoke to people from Trent and met successful people who graduated from Trent that I realized that a person destined to succeed should theoretically have the drive to succeed regardless of where they go. If I had gone to the other school, I don't think my life would have been as good as it is now.

Also to respond to Xiaohaha, that is exactly the point I was trying to make. There are people out there who base their decision exclusively off prestige. I wanted to get people thinking about other things (the ones you mentioned, as well as others). I am one of the "brilliant minds" at a non-prestigious schools (not meaning to brag, but my marks would say it's true).
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A photo of Trarod Trarod
I definately agree that prestige plays too important of a role in influencing high school students' choice of univeristy. I go to U of T and know all too well than prestige does not (necessarily) equal a better education experience. And yes, Ontario universities follow similar curricula so you can expect to learn the same material wherever you go, and yet U of T is considered more prestigious, because of research. We are a large university which invests a lot of money in research, and as a consequence many of the world`s top minds come and do their work here.

As a result, I would have to disagree with the statement that two people (X and Y) with the exact same potential who attend universities of different prestige will have the same outcomes. The more prestigious university probably has more money and resources, which might allow the student to make greater use of their talents (outside a purely academic setting). I agree that U of T does not cultivate brilliant minds through their education system anymore than say, Lakehead, but we have more money, so our brilliant minds have the resources to do their brilliant work :)

See, in the end, prestige means money. Simple as that.
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A photo of OscarUK OscarUK

@Ba Ba Blue wrote
This thread was written to get people (hopefully high school students among them) to think critically about what a school's prestige actually is. People say that one school is more prestigious than another seemingly arbitrarily - my hope was that people would question it, even if they don't end up changing their mind in the end.



Well I think it's fair to say you have not succeeded. Ridiculously simplistic "person X and person Y" scenarios are not going to convince anyone of anything in a form so simplistic that the entire argument should be entirely discounted. The empirical evidence and factual reasoning that has gone into your thoughts is... nil.


@Ba Ba Blue wrote
The reason for this is because I was accepted to all the schools that I applied to and almost went to a school because of a better "reputation". It was only after I spoke to people from Trent and met successful people who graduated from Trent that I realized that a person destined to succeed should theoretically have the drive to succeed regardless of where they go. If I had gone to the other school, I don't think my life would have been as good as it is now.



So let me get this straight...
1) you get accepted to all your amazing universities (one can only imagine such a brilliant mind, so I'm guessing HYPS are in here)
2) You are on the verge of accepting an amazingly "prestigious" school
3) YOU TALK TO A FEW ALUMNI FROM ONE OF YOUR LOWER CHOICES WHO SAID IT WAS GOOD, AND SOMEHOW THEREFORE REASON THAT YOU WOULD BE BETTER OFF THERE.
4) You go to this university on the back of advice of it's own students, not having taking other advice
5) you make a post on a uni forum advising people to do the same

Either you aren't very bright, or I'm calling Bullsh*t.


@Ba Ba Blue wrote
Also to respond to Xiaohaha, that is exactly the point I was trying to make. There are people out there who base their decision exclusively off prestige. I wanted to get people thinking about other things (the ones you mentioned, as well as others). I am one of the "brilliant minds" at a non-prestigious schools (not meaning to brag, but my marks would say it's true).



hmmmmm. Im sorry, you try and make all these sociological and reasoned arguments then claim you are a "brilliant mind" because you did well in some school tests.
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A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue
@OscarUK

On your first point, I wasn't going to turn this into an essay. There's no sense in making something that would get tl;dr posts at best. I used an example to illustrate my hypothesis. You're right, I don't have evidence. There we go, the fact that you question that means that this goal (which you claim failed) is actually succeeding. All I wanted to do was to introduce the idea that it could possibly be a flawed concept and have discussion stemming from that. I've in no way claimed that prestigious schools are bad.

To your second point, the people I spoke to and meeting successful people were supposed to be separate - I'm sorry if this wasn't clear. My point was that going to a small unknown school didn't inhibit these peoples' success. I didn't actually speak to them of their experience there. This goes hand in hand with my hypothesis about certain people being predisposed to success. I reasoned that it would be better to go to Trent not because of that, but because all teachers I've ever asked claim it's more of who you know than where you go and going to Trent made my education EXTREMELY affordable due to everything they give me.

Also, HYPS were not in my applications because they're overkill - overpriced undergrad. Also, they're American and I planned to teach in Canada, especially Ontario. HYPS are nice, but they just weren't suitable for my needs. My amazing schools were mainly referring to Queen's Con.Ed (which is the hardest to get into of all Con.Ed programs, except perhaps Mcgills, but again I wanted to go to school in Ontario).

To your final point, brilliant is a subjective term. In the context I wrote it, my point was that I was academically brilliant and as such could've gone to any school I wanted in Canada (which is what I thought Xiaohaha was alluding to).
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A photo of OscarUK OscarUK
Such was the lack of clarity in your arguments and messing around with "person X" scenarios that I hadn't even realised that your main point was; that some people are "predisposed to succeed" regardless of what circumstances and/or obstacles stand in their way. In this case, I unfortunately disagree with you even more. There is simply no way anyone could argue that "brilliant" people will succeed no matter what; that is simply not the world we live in. It is simply too utopist a vision, in the real world... those with the most chances in life have the greatest chances at success, there are exceptions of course, but that is the general rule.

Oh and I still think your reasoning behind uni choice is flawed somewhat, it come across that you chose based on wild assumptions rather than the usual parameters (e.g course, social life, facilities, atmosphere and opportunities)
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A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue
The usual parameters were not completely ignored when I applied to universities, but I opted to put a higher emphasis on financial aid than other criteria, mainly due to the fact that the whole thing is useless if you can't afford to graduate (I currently know someone in this position and it's not pleasant). Since I was doing math, the courses were comparable everywhere and the facilities (like labs and libraries) weren't really a concern to me. Opportunities at Trent (speaking only for teachers) are phenomenal since probably 1/3 of people there want to be teachers, so there are ample groups and PD opportunities. Also, I didn't really consider social life - I make the best of wherever I am.

As for your disagreement to my points, now that I can see we understand my points the same way I can say that I'll agree to disagree.

Also, I seem to have completely not seen Trarod's post. I will agree with you that the more "prestigious" schools have more money, but you have to consider which of the above is the cause and which is the effect. They have more money because they have more students. They have more students because they are seen as prestigious. Therefore, money comes after prestige. This makes it near impossible for smaller schools to compete with the larger ones. This is my case for why smaller schools should be given far greater money by the government than larger ones so that they can compete, consequently increasing the quality of schooling in Ontario as a whole. This is also a separate debate, so let's try to keep this thread on track by focusing on other, more relevant issues.
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A photo of OscarUK OscarUK

@Ba Ba Blue wrote
I will agree with you that the more "prestigious" schools have more money, but you have to consider which of the above is the cause and which is the effect. They have more money because they have more students.



Incorrect. Otherwise it would follow that the larger the uni: the better/more prestigious it is. This clearly is not true.
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A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue

@OscarUK wrote

@Ba Ba Blue wrote
I will agree with you that the more "prestigious" schools have more money, but you have to consider which of the above is the cause and which is the effect. They have more money because they have more students.



Incorrect. Otherwise it would follow that the larger the uni: the better/more prestigious it is. This clearly is not true.



You're making the converse error here. Never once did I say that large implied prestigious. I said prestigious implied large (except on the occasion that they choose to be small). Prestigious schools only have to be less selective with who they let into their school to raise more money whereas less prestigious schools need to invest heavily to increase enrolments. The point is that prestigious schools can have as much money as they want (to a certain extent).
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
In general, what university rankings measure is not how good a university is, but how good it is perceived to be. Do you really think that the people who make these rankings go to every school and analyse the academics, lifestyle etc. No. They just send surveys to faculty and students and that's how they come up with these rankings.

IMO prestige doesn't mean anything for undergrad. At the end of the day, any university can teach basic sciences/art/commerce, whether it's a Lakehead or a UofT.
Prestige does matter if you're doing something like engineering, where an undergrad degree would suffice to get you a job in that career.

It's analogous to comparing generic vs branded medicine. There's a perception that the branded medicine is better, but at the end of the day they're both equally effective at curing the illness.
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A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue
astroshrum, you're saying exactly what triggered me to think of this concept. No one has attended every university on Ontario, so how can you rate them on things like quality of education? There could be other factors biasing the current measures. I decided that university rankings seem to be arbitrary, and so I treat them as an arbitrary list made by some person with certain biases.
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@Ba Ba Blue wrote
astroshrum, you're saying exactly what triggered me to think of this concept. No one has attended every university on Ontario, so how can you rate them on things like quality of education? There could be other factors biasing the current measures. I decided that university rankings seem to be arbitrary, and so I treat them as an arbitrary list made by some person with certain biases.



Macleans is the biggest joke when it comes to University rankings.

The majority of stuff based on rankings isn't even relevant to Undergraduate education, so I don't see why high school student are concerned so deeply with reputation. In the end the criteria is based on graduate studies, professional schooling, and research funding.

Undergraduate education is virtually really similar from school to school.

Now if we were comparing where someone would go for their Masters at say Brock compared to U of T then I'd say U of T is hands down better.

There is preference of course on which program one may prefer over the other in terms of course offerings, campus itself, etc.

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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
^ Actually, even for graduate school and a lot of professional schools (particularly the medical ones), the school's reputation or supposed quality doesn't really matter. As far as grad school goes, your supervisor's reputation is more important than your school's reputation, though the two are correlated. Medical professional schools are highly regulated by associated government-sponsored bodies, so they are all very similar in quality.
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@mynameismattgotmlgo wrote
^ Actually, even for graduate school and a lot of professional schools (particularly the medical ones), the school's reputation or supposed quality doesn't really matter. As far as grad school goes, your supervisor's reputation is more important than your school's reputation, though the two are correlated. Medical professional schools are highly regulated by associated government-sponsored bodies, so they are all very similar in quality.



Well that being said, after all this why do people seem to worry about the prestige of their school? People think they are doomed if they go to a particular University over another. Why does it matter? I understand preference but other then that I don't quite get it. In terms of grad school, I didn't know that so thanks for enlightening me, as for Med school I figured they are all the same regulated thing in Ontario.
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Because as much as I learn from my profs, I also learn from my colleagues and other students. Being surrounded by retards obviously isn't as conducive to learning.
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A photo of Ba Ba Blue Ba Ba Blue

@Xiaohaha wrote
Because as much as I learn from my profs, I also learn from my colleagues and other students. Being surrounded by retards obviously isn't as conducive to learning.


There is something to learn from everyone. If your quest is solely academic in nature and don't plan on leaving academia, then I'll accept what you're saying. Otherwise, you may want to consider the lessons you can learn from people who are different from yourself.

Oh, and regardless of where you go the average intelligence will go up from high school because there is still a minimum threshold you need to attain to be admitted to a university in Ontario.
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