Thursday, January 1, 2009

Is Alma-Mater a Modern Age Gentleman’s Only Identity??

Alma mater usually forms an important part of a person’s identity but in recent times it has become one’s only identity. Sure some colleges like Harvard and IITs back in India have produced great leaders more than any other institution but isn’t it the deeds & actions of a person that make him great eventually and not his alma mater?
Ivy League college pass outs refusing or reluctant to work under someone from a lower rank institution is not a new phenomenon. People holding one in high regards or simply dismissing one to be just another chap based on one’s alma mater is nothing new either. But in recent times, such polarization has started to reach alarming levels which is beginning to threaten our social fabric.
Students from Ivy League institutions today hesitate to work with colleagues from institutions not so Ivy as theirs. Students refuse to join companies that also visit lower rung colleges and offer the same profile there. Students pay least attention to speakers who have studied at an institution lower than theirs, no matter how big achiever the speaker is or irrespective of his / her experience.
Why do people from Ivy League institutions mention their alma mater’s name every now and than even 20 yrs after they have passed out? Shouldn’t their achievements be a more important part of their introduction rather than their alma mater? Why successful people from not so big colleges hesitate to mention their alma mater’s name while introducing themselves to an audience.
Are other forms of discrimination not enough, that now we the educated class have brought in this new discrimination? Sure getting into a prestigious institution a big achievement but is that the only piece of identity we are left with. Does being an Ivy League pass out make a criminal not a criminal and a normal institution pass out honest person not so honest? Just because of some reasons a successful person who didn’t pass out from the so-called top college bear the stigma throughout his life?
Sure the alma mater to which an individual belongs is important and plays an important role in shaping one’s personality and success in life, but the same has been stretched way too far. It has resulted in a new form of discrimination / polarization of the world. An individual’s alma mater is being given way too importance when public opinion is formed about the person deviating attention from other equally if not more qualified perspectives.
Alma mater is important and plays an important part in shaping one’s personality and values but It should not become the dominant force shaping public opinion about a person. It should not become a new factor in the polarization of our society.


  1. Very rarely this is discussed , in total agreement with your views on the same...

  2. this post is a bit sad.
    coming from someone just about to graduate from a 'top 10 b school'(:P).

    it boils down to the innner strength of the individual-whether u will get shaken by the so-called criticism/comments from people outside 4m being from an 'inferior' insti.

    or fight everyone on merits-at least have the belief in yourself to do so.

    at the end of d day,there is alwaz a mr.karwal employing the iim and iit grad-s under himself with his self conviction.

    and there is the horde of whingers too.

    time 2 do what the big blue says,
    "stop talking start doing".

  3. @alekhya

    Its not about to which college the post author or the readers belong..its about the general public..and u can see the the discrimination being made there..!!

    U urself said it right that we should be confident of ourself and stop mentioning our alma mater every now and than.

    IIM & IIT graduates do work under bosses from lower rung colleges..but are they really happy with that?

    Don't ur own MBA friends change their attitude about a speaker after finding out that he doesn't belong to an institution equally great as theirs?

    Eventually the article is about the growing polarization of educated class and doesn't intend to question anyone's ability..!!

  4. just an expression of the instinctive urge of people to slot, judge , discriminate, bias. We have to try hard to be fair because unfairness id our natural tendency. because we dont want to find out what is best, we let others tell us. in this case the institutions. Thats why branding works too. in this case branding in job market.

    but if some one is too busy flaunting his credentials he is obviously not busy digging an opportunity. that's why this world's creative source are the independent people .. rest are just trying to keep it on track. I personally feel its a waste to go through these institution cuz they take so much out of your own self.

    u are then "institutionalized"

  5. Nice thoughts and well written. Alma mater often becomes a source of data to put individuals into capability slots. But I feel in the longer run, it may not matter much as long as u prove urself. And going by the current levels of reservation and all that will IITs and IIMs keep churning out the cream in the same proportion in years to come? As in when I meet up with a so-called IIM grad, today there is a 50% chance that he has a CAT score much less than mine! He competed in a different segment even for the admission process! So I think alma mater branding is just a bubble...if the brand promise isnt delivered, the bubble just gets pricked! As long as under-dogs hold their heads high and do smart work, they cud brand their alma mater rather than the other way round.

  6. Hi Ashis, why only single out IIT, IIMs and Ivy league B scools. The phenomenon ( or the mindset) is prevalent right from historic times and ages- Caste system is a glaring example (it is also based on pedigree). If you are an IAS,IPS, IFS( Foreign service ),IRS - u have the same attitude and approach. I saw it as recently as of yesterday in of my batchmates from IRES ( Indian Railway Engineering services) who are the apex engineering service body , pass out of Railway Staff college, alma mater of Railways have their email ids as : , the "ires" is a signature to connect with similar pedigree. My friend says , it helps in executing your job easier as it gives you a trust and confidence that people with whom i am interacting are of at least same bandwidth or more.