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Monday, December 28, 2015

What makes the Bay Area attractive to so many technology companies? If I am interested in a tech career, is this where I should concentrate my college search?

Colleges that help land Silicon Valley jobs



The area known as Silicon Valley is sandwiched between the University of California-Berkeley on the north and Stanford University on the south. It is alive with the scent of eucalyptus trees and is close both to Napa Valley wine country and beautiful San Francisco Bay.

This area is the center of the tech universe and attracts some of the best minds in the world. If you have an idea that borders on changing the world, you will be taken seriously here. And no one cares how old you are, or how much experience you have. If you have what it takes, there will be serious money to back you up.

Not all students will gain admission to Stanford and Berkeley, and although these universities are heavily represented at most technology companies, they are by no means in the majority.

Where else do these companies find their talent? You might be surprised to learn that it comes from all over the country and many parts of the world. The international flavor of Silicon Valley makes it a haven for students who want to be around the best and brightest. Only diversity of the highest level can produce this kind of culture.

Let's start at the top of the pecking order with Stanford and Berkeley. Both have strong computer programs and powerful business schools with influential alumni. The combination of talent and the ability to create and sell innovative ideas that abounds in these institutions quite often leads to the making of young millionaires.

Consider that Stanford is a stone's throw from Facebook, Hewlett-Packard and Google. You might even say these companies are an extension of Stanford's campus. Berkeley is a few miles north and famous not only for funneling scientific talent into Silicon Valley, but also for the Hass School of Business, one of the nation's best.

However, it is important to note that you do not have to attend Stanford or Berkeley to find your way into a major Silicon Valley company or become part of a scrappy start-up.

Santa Clara University, located near Stanford, is also a top producer of tech talent. Many of SCU's graduates are employed by tech companies. Santa Clara also might appeal to students who are leaning toward Notre Dame, Georgetown or Boston University because it has less stringent admissions requirements. Santa Clara's admissions rate of 58 percent versus Notre Dame's 21 percent, for example makes it an attractive choice. Of particular interest might be its Leavey School of Business, which ranks highly among undergraduate business schools.

Silicon Valley is a magnet for people who think differently, who are smart and can act independently on their ideas. The area is saturated with talent and rewards creativity, which is a good reason to concentrate your college search there if technology is your career choice.

While nationwide there are close to 3,000 colleges to choose from, I tell my clients not to be intimidated by an elite school's admissions standards. The overall application process is the same for Stanford and Berkeley as it is for Purdue or Columbia. The key is to prepare well for your ACT and SAT and have a study/career goal well in mind so that your application essays and interviews will impress the admission decision-makers.

The Ivy League top 10 that fuel Silicon Valley.
Stanford University
Harvey Mudd College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Yale University
Duke University
Dartmouth College
Princeton University
Harvard University
Brown University
University of California, Berkeley

Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admission consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.

gerald_bradshaw@post.harvard.edu

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