Harvard Graduates




gather findings higher learning
apply admit (2) admission
average graduate survey (2)
goal (2) go on (2) accomplish
conduct clear (2) get back (3)
validity location crunch the numbers
commit field (3) degree (3)
version indicate prestigious
surpass track (2) short-term




Harvard University

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest, best-known and most prestigious institute of higher learning in the United States.

Many of the nation’s top students study there. And each year, tens of thousands of young people apply for admission — but only a select few are accepted.

Harvard graduates then go on to become leaders in their fields: academia … business … government … industry … science and technology. Past Harvard attendees include John F. Kennedy, Bill Gates and Barack Obama.


In his book What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, lawyer and businessman Mark McCormack described a study that took place there.

In 1979, researchers conducted a survey among the graduating class of the Harvard University Business School.

One of the questions they asked was,

“Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

Three Percent

The researchers got back the following responses:

• About three percent of the graduates answered “yes”, that they had written goals and made plans for their accomplishment.

• Another group said that they did have goals — in their heads — but had not committed them on paper (they hadn’t written them down).

• The remainder told the researchers they didn’t know what their goals were, or they were very general, such as “having a good career”, “becoming successful and prosperous”, or “having a family and a nice home.”

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Ten Years Later

Ten years later the researchers located the members of the class.

Once again, they interviewed the graduates and gathered new and followup data. One of this concerned personal income.

The Results

The researchers crunched the numbers (analyzed the data), and got the following results:

• The graduates who didn’t have clear, specific goals when they left Harvard were earning far more than the national average.

• The graduates who did have goals, but not in writing, had annual incomes that exceeded those of the students who had no goals at all.

• Meanwhile, the average income of the three percent of graduates who had clear, written goals and plans when they left Harvard, surpassed that of the other two groups; they were earning the most.

Dominican University

In 2007, Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in San Rafael, California, conducted a short-term version of the Harvard study.

Her findings indicated that people who write down their goals were 42% more likely to achieve them than those who had not.

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Nursery School, Pre-School. The main idea of this text is an overview of Harvard University. True or false? What do people associate with Harvard University? What comes to mind when you think of Harvard?

Kindergarten. In 1979, was a study conducted on all currently enrolled Harvard students?

Elementary School, Primary School. Did the researchers ask the graduating class some questions? What was the main question?

Middle School, Junior High School. How many categories of graduates were there in the study? What were the categories?

High School, Secondary School. The researchers interviewed the graduates again in 1989. Is this right or wrong? Did they ask any questions? What information did they gather?

Community College, Vocational School, Technical School. Were there any significant differences among the groups?

Liberal Arts College. What may have been the study’s conclusion? Is there a moral? What is the take home lesson?

University. The Harvard goals study has been duplicated. Yes or no? Were the results measured in terms of income?
High School Diploma. What may have accounted for the differences in earnings between the different groups of the graduates?

Program Certificate, Course Certificate. Have you been told (by your parents, teachers, counselors and other authority figures) that you should set goals in your life?

Technical Certificate, Trade Certificate. Have you set any goals? What are some of your goals, e.g. in education, career, home, hobbies, relationships, health? How can you go about achieving them?

Bachelor’s Degree, University Degree. What are the most prestigious universities in your country? How difficult is it to be admitted (get in) there?

Master’s Degree, MBA. Who goes there? What happens to the alumni of these universities? Graduates from elite universities in general become much more “successful” in life than graduates from other universities. Why would this be the case?

Ph.D. Doctorate Degree. A university degree is absolutely necessary for success. What do you think?

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