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Any College Will Do

Any College Will Do

IN Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Carol Hymowitz wrote an encouraging article entitled, Any College Will Do. She begins, "The college diplomas of the nation's top executives tell an intriguing story: Getting to the corner office has more to do with leadership talent and a drive for success than it does with having an undergraduate degree from a prestigious university.” Here are some highlights:

Most CEOs of the biggest corporations didn't attend Ivy League or other highly selective colleges. They went to state universities, big and small, or to less-known private colleges. "I don't care where someone went to school, and that never caused me to hire anyone or buy a business," says Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

What counts most, CEOs say, is a person's capacity to seize opportunities. As students, they recall immersing themselves in their interests, becoming campus leaders, and forging strong relationships with teachers. And at state and lesser-known schools, where many were the first in their families to attend college, they sought challenges and mixed with students from diverse backgrounds—an experience that helped them later in their corporate climbs.

Inspired by an economics professor who made the subject "fun and relevant," Bill Green, CEO of Accenture, went on to Babson College to earn his bachelor's and M.B.A. degrees. But he credits Dean with teaching him to think analytically, to gain confidence in his abilities, and to learn to work with people.

A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble's CEO, chose Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., because he wanted a solid liberal arts education and to be assured a spot on the intercollegiate basketball team. A history major who graduated in 1969, he was elected president of his sophomore class, became a fraternity officer, and spent his junior year studying in France. I learned to think, to communicate, to lead, to get things done," he says, adding that those qualities are what he seeks in job candidates at his company. "Any college will do."

With that in mind, perhaps one should consider a liberal arts education and forgo the pre-professional education. Learning to work with people is what leadership is all about. It could be argued that a liberal arts education better prepares you to do just this. Exposure to a diverse body of knowledge allows a person to connect in more and different ways with more people—a skill that will serve leaders well. A more varied study gives one more context with which to view the world. This in turn can develop a mind better suited to grasp new concepts, form deeper understanding, produce new ideas and make more creative connections. A liberal arts undergraduate degree at your local college or university may be just what you need to prepare you for what Dan Pink describes as a new world in which "right brain" qualities—inventiveness, empathy, meaning—predominate.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:20 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Education



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