Harder to Get Job at Walmart Than Admitted to Ivy League School?
A silly Wonkblog post with the title “Wal-Mart has a lower acceptance rate than Harvard” is rightly drawing some eye-rolling.
This year’s Ivy League admissions totals are in. The 8.9 percent acceptance rate is impressively exclusive, but compared to landing a job at Wal-Mart, getting into the Ivy Leagues is a cakewalk.
Last year when Wal-Mart came to D.C. there were over 23,000 applications for 600 jobs. That’s an acceptance rate of 2.6%, twice as selective as Harvard’s and over five times as choosy as Cornell.
As commenters rightly point out, neither Walmart nor Wegman’s have an “acceptance rate”–they simply have jobs and applicants. Further, not noted by the commenters but nonetheless true, the Ivies’ applicant pool is self-limiting. Because they schools are notoriously difficult to get into and the high resource investment required just to apply, relatively few bother to compete. Conversely, since Walmart is seen as a gateway for very-low-skill people to get into the workforce and applying is cheap and easy, there’s a massive applicant pool, especially in this economy.
The barriers to entry to the Ivy Leagues are simply much, much higher and the applicant pool is much, much more elite. So, no, it’s not harder to get hired at Walmart than it is to get into Cornell.
For that matter, aside from the weird comparative statistics, the conclusion makes no sense:
Parents and students – particularly those from a certain socio-economic background – tend to obsess a lot over the college admissions process. The danger, of course, is that this single-minded focus on preparing kids for college – the extra-curriculars, test prep, admissions coaching, and the like – is coming at the expense of prepping them for the job market hurdles that come after.
They’re trying to get their kids into an elite school. If successful, they’re virtually punching their ticket to the upper end of the job market! That’s a pretty good preparation for “the job market hurdles that come after.” And, in the likely event Junior doesn’t get into Harvard, this “single-minded focus” will almost certainly land him at a decent state university.
Is graduating college a guarantee of a good job thereafter? No. But it massively increases the odds. And it virtually assures that they won’t be competing with tens of thousands of low- or no-skill workers for a relative handful of low-pay, low-ceiling jobs. That’s not nothing.