Beware Of The ‘College Dropout’ Success Story

February 21, 2013 1:57 pm

“Survivorship bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that “survived” some process and inadvertently overlooking those that didn’t because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. The survivors may literally be people, as in a medical study, or could be companies or research subjects or applicants for a job, or anything that must make it past some selection process to be considered further. (Source)”

The typical ‘College Dropout’ Success Story is a classic case of survivorship bias in action – even the ones that failed, they ‘survived’ in a way, to tell you the story. When in doubt, look at numbers. This is what the numbers say: Education equals Employment. If you are looking for data points to help the dropout story outside employment – you will be hard pressed to find supporting data there as well.

We can explain why that is the case – some of that can be attributed to the ‘credentials trap’ – but mostly, it is because the world is full of decision makers who like to play it safe. And nobody gets fired for buying IBM.

Beware Of The ‘College Dropout’ Success Story. It has got the words ‘survivorship bias’ written all over it.

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