Did You Make a Mistake Going to a Top-Ranked B School?

Fascinating thought: You might not need a big brand school to be successful in entrepreneurship. Believe it?

According to Malcom Gladwell’s David and Goliah, although there are serious advantages to being in a top-rate school or institution, it doesn’t guaranteed success. The advantages are also the disadvantages. The fact that schools are so selective and so prestigious makes it difficult to make an impact when everyone else around you is clamoring to make the same noise.

Take, for example, Gladwell’s story of Caroline Sacks. She had the opportunity to go to two schools: Brown or University of Maryland. She loved bugs and that’s what she wanted to study. She chose to go to Brown. There she excelled until she came to organic chemistry. In this class she struggled to receive a B. According to the tale she felt like she didn’t measure up, but the problem isn’t that Sacks is dumb, it’s that she was surrounded by super geniuses. She was smart enough to keep up with them which meant she was smart enough to get it period. However, in comparison to a tiny sliver of the population, she wasn’t as strong in that endeavor. It polluted her self-confidence. Why? It wasn’t that she loved science any less than any of the students. It wasn’t that she wasn’t gifted and didn’t have the drive to study. It’s that she began to lose confidence due to the fact that she was a small fish in a big pond.

Some people thrive in that sort of environment. Some don’t. Neither answer is right or wrong.

Welcome to the theory of relative deprivation. That means when you compare yourself to others in your very specific endeavor, you feel like either you stack up or you don’t. You compare yourself not to the populous as a whole but your immediate peers. You determine your merit based on the achievements around you, and not your work in and of itself.

This idea of being a small fish in a big pond makes you feel like somehow you just don’t stack up. But that’s not necessarily true. Really you just have to decide what sort of environment you want to learn in: an environment where you’ll be a big fish in a small pond and boost your confidence but by excelling under selective deprivation or a small fish in a big pond where you may lower your confidence by the same theory.

So this begs the question: Do you think it’s worth it to pursue a big name education in entrepreneurship once you know the rewards and consequences that come along with the brand name?

About the Author

Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.