Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Organizational Studies

Reader 1

Professor Jeff Lewis

Reader 2

Professor Barbara Junisbai

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Rights Information

Carina A Schick


The U.S. News top college ranking lists have created a narrowing definition of collegiate and career success. Students are told an elite education is the ticket to a successful life, one filled with a high achieving career, meaning, and happiness. Through peer, familial, and media interfaces students are inundated with societal definitions of success such as fame, wealth, and status. Socialization primes adolescents to work towards these goals. This idealized type of success is only accessible to a select few, leading to dissatisfaction and creating pressures on students to work towards their college admission at early ages. This thesis examines the pressures elite college students face to become successful before, during, and after graduation and how striving to become successful funnels students towards similar college and career goals at the top of ranking of lists. Original research is adapted from Amy Binder, Daniel Davis, and Nick Bloom’s article, “Career Funneling: How Elite Students Learn to Define and Desire ‘Prestigious’ Jobs” and conducted at the Claremont Colleges to research the definitions of success, career aspirations, pressures, and their influences.