Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Pedigree

A reader asks

Karl, where did you do your PhD? Just wondering. I've been noticing your posts on Mankiw's blog for a while and was curious.


I have been wondering what to say or not say about this for a while. I was, at first, worried about revealing my pedigree and whether or not it would impact my online reputation. The fact that a lack of sleep and food have pushed me to make some pretty crazy posts and comments over the last week or so should lay those fears to rest, however.

I went to NC State University. In the past I have been advised, by NC State faculty, to never let anyone know this. There is, at least a sense, that anything outside of the Top 20 means that some people will never take you seriosuly. In the internet age that might be changing. What do commenters think?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two words: John List

Gabriel Mihalache said...

I feel your pain!

My record so far has been... unimpressive to say the least, so from now on I can't expect any miracles re: what institutions will want me.

My angled? Just focus on the work, and do it for yourself. Do what you like, if you're not in the rat rage for "career" points. You're better off following your bliss anyway.

You can worry about having your brilliant idea ignored because of your degree when you have a brilliant, earth-shattering idea. ;-)

Dex Kaden said...

Well, I think the Internet is kind of leveling the playing field, and therefore it is harder for Academia to keep its monopoly. Granted, there is still the perception that a degree from Harvard is better than a degree from a lesser-known school, but the ability to post ideas on the world wide web where billions of people have access to it limits the ability of The Top 20 from "stifling the competition," if you will.

You might have a harder time getting employed at an elite institution if your "pedigree" doesn't quite meet their standards, but why is that any reason to hide where you got your education from? I don't think that people are swayed by someone's alma mater as much as they are by the ideas presented by an individual. (That is just my observation from personal experience, of course, but I tend to pay more attention to someone who doesn't flash his credentials around than someone who thinks that I should him solely because he did attend an elite school.)

I think the Internet is changing the way information is disseminated, and I think it's a good thing. (You might enjoy the discussion on Hayek's influence on Wikipedia and how it relates to price theory here, here, and here.

Anonymous said...

Karl,

20 years ago and perhaps even 10, it was important to go to graduate school at a top 20 school, but now the gap between elite institutions and second tier schools is beginning to close rapidly.

YouNotSneaky! said...

I agree with the previous commentators and want to add that I've found this kind of attitude to be associated with, um, "academic immaturity" - hence mostly found among SOME graduate students from top 20 schools. The folks, big names even, who've been doing this for awhile seem to be well aware that in the end it's the ideas that matter.

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