Recruiting and The Purpose of College


Applying to my first internship was probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences as a college student. Before I could press that apply button, I made sure to triple-check my resume and cover letter to make sure there was not one single error anywhere. A couple days after applying, I received an email from the recruiter saying I was going to have an interview the following week with the organization. I sat at my computer re-reading the email obviously happy. But then something came over me. I was not thinking about the interview anymore and how happy I was that I would be given a chance to show off my skills and strengths; I started to think about the article we read during the first week of our Political Science class. The article about the true purpose of college.

When I first came to Michigan last year, it seemed everyone was focused on three things: football weekends, academics, and jobs. Every other day, there was another corporation somewhere on campus showing off what they do and how much money they make. Students, including me, were drawn to these kinds of events like flies to light. I always noticed a couple things when going to these kinds of events. One, there was always some sort of restriction for students applying to the job whether it be a GPA restriction or a Degree restriction. Two, the job descriptions always said that they were looking for very strong candidates with above-average intellectual skills. Three, prior experience although not necessary is always a plus. Finally, they were always looking for sophomores, juniors, or seniors but never freshman. Looking back at these events after my first month of Political Science 101, it is quite obvious to me that these events were pretty much supporting one of the theories proposed by Louis Menand’s Live and Learn: The Theory of Meritocracy.

What exactly is the Theory of Meritocracy? To put it in the exact words of Louis Menand, “College is, essentially, a four-year intelligence test.” The Theory pretty much says that college can differentiate students by using objective measures such as GPA and class rank and then with these measures, corporations and graduate schools can pick and choose who to accept and who not to. Many people like to argue that we come to college to follow our passions and learn a little bit about everything so we can be ready to transition into the real world. But after seeing all these different recruiting events and the competitiveness of academics, it seems as if college is just meant to reward those who work the hardest and get that solid GPA. Do I agree with the fact that college should only be about grades. Of course not! But if students do not perform as well as companies want their applicants to perform, then it becomes tougher and tougher to be competitive in the job market.


While I am not trying to argue that college is solely meant to procure a well-paying job after graduating based off performance in academics, from what I have been exposed to throughout my freshman year and my first month as a sophomore, it sure seems like Menand’s Theory of Meritocracy best describes college. However, I still think it is imperative for college students to not only focus on their academics, but also to enjoy their college years. Yes sometimes we have to pull all-nighters to get that A on our Calc Exam, but when football Saturdays come around, going out and enjoy ourselves is something I think Menand would not disagree with!


4 thoughts on “Recruiting and The Purpose of College

  1. I strongly agree with this article and the theory of Meritocracy. This blog post reminds me a lot of my high school experience, seeing some of the smartest people I’ve ever met not caring about getting good grades because they all ready knew the material and ending up getting worse grades than me. In the end I got into a better school than them due to my GPA being higher. I’m not even close to being as smart as any of those kids but that shows how much the GPA system is wrong in some way. It doesn’t pick out the best of the best but it does pick out the hard workers from the lazy people. It shows the students who can get something done rather than doing nothing even though the student who does nothing may know more. I would like to know what you think about multiple choice tests compared to short answer questions and essays on a test? I feel as if multiple choice doesn’t show how smart and how much the person really knows on the subject at hand.


  2. While I do agree with a lot of your points, I feel like you miss talking about a resume and extracurricular activities. You mention that you checked over your resume multiple times, which is because it does play a role. Although grades are important, I know numerous stories where someone with a lower GPA got the job over someone else because of a better resume. Look at the Funeral Games, not every award was given based solely off merit. Also, the interview plays a huge role as well, but that is another story.


  3. I think you made a very fair point, and while I wish that theory 1 was not the way companies recruited college students, the truth is that they do. GPAs are a heavy factor when companies look at potential interns or employees for their company. However, I do agree with Andrew in that companies are increasingly looking at a student’s well-roundedness, and while excelling in academics remains their top priority, I think extracurricular activities have also gained significance in determining who gets the job.


  4. I can definitely relate to this self-examination regarding the meaning of college and the value of supposedly objective measures of intelligence and hard work such as GPA and SAT scores. During my first months as a freshman I have found some discrepancies with this system. Just recently I had an online quiz on the readings assigned for International Studies. It was the first time that I fully comprehended all the readings and was able to make connections to theories discussed in class. Compared to the first two quizzes, I was analyzing and internalizing the information much more this time around. However, it was the lowest score I had received in the quizzes. This made think about Menand’s theory as I was learning but that was not reflected in the score.
    I also think that in college, especially a school like Michigan, too many times students prioritize partying and socializing over studying for a quiz or working on an upcoming paper.


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