Thursday, November 09, 2018
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr Bradshaw,
What makes the Bay Area attractive to so many technology companies? I am interested in a tech career and am wondering if this is where I should concentrate my college search?
Signed, High School Junior
Bay Area universities conduit to Silicon Valley jobs
Dear High School Junior,
The area known as Silicon Valley is sandwiched between the University of California-Berkeley on the north and Stanford University on the south. As a former UC-Berkeley student, I remember it as being alive with the scent of eucalyptus trees and close to Napa and Sonoma Valley wine country – with all of this accented by beautiful San Francisco Bay. This area is indeed, the center of the tech universe and attracts some of the best minds in the world. If you have an idea that you think may change the world, you will be taken seriously here. No one cares how old you are, or how much experience you have. If you have what it takes, there is serious money to back you up. Not all students will gain admission to Stanford and Berkeley, and although these universities are heavily represented at many 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 across 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. Stanford and Berkeley 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 Haas School of Business, one of the nation's best.
It is important to note that you do not have to attend Stanford or UC-Berkeley to find your way into a major Silicon Valley company or become part of a scrappy start-up. Santa Clara University (SCU), located near Stanford, is also a top producer of tech talent. Of particular interest might be its Leavey School of Business, which ranks highly among undergraduate business schools. Many of SCU's graduates are employed by tech companies. SCU 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 48 percent — versus Notre Dame's 19 percent, for example — make it an attractive choice.
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 or to overlook state schools or small private schools that offer a curriculum that will increase your knowledge base.
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.
Silicon Valley continues to be a magnet for people who think differently, who are smart and can act independently on their ideas. Your path to success there can be enhanced by your academic achievement from a variety of colleges both inside and outside of the Bay Area.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
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