In reading the book “Freakonomics“, there were a lot of fascinated studies citied and this one really caught my eye. When Chicago Public Schools opened a lottery for students to apply to get into better schools, some students got selected and some didn’t. However, the main difference for the students ended up being that the students who applied to the lottery to switch schools improved, regardless whether they got into the better school or not. Ultimately, these students had the drive to improve either way.
From the book:
The proof is in this comparison: the students who won the lottery and went to a “better” school did no better than equivalent students who lost the lottery and were left behind. That is, a student who opted out of his neighborhood school was more likely to graduate whether or not he actually won the opportunity to go to a new school. What appears to be an advantage gained by going to a new school isn’t connected to the new school at all. What this means is that the students and parents who choose to opt out tend to be smarter and more academically motivated to begin with. But statistically, they gained no academic benefit by changing schools.
They shared a similar stories about people that considered changing their name to be more “normal” to help them succeed better in life. As with the schools, the name didn’t matter as much as simply being the kind of person that works to improve their lot in life. Again from the book:
And what if DeShawn had changed his name to Jake or Connor: would his situation improve? Here’s a guess: anybody who bothers to change his name in the name of economic success is like the high-school freshmen in Chicago who entered the school-choice lottery-at least highly motivated, and motivation is probably a stronger indicator of success than, well, a name.
It’s similar to studies that have shown that students who are accepted to Harvard and go elsewhere end up just as successful as those that go. Attending Harvard doesn’t make you successful, but being the kind of student that can get into Harvard means that you’re already heading down the right path.
You can choose to change your name or attend a better school, but the person that you really are matters much more than any of that.