Elite students don’t need elite colleges

Elite college graduates earn 40 percent more than graduates of non-elite schools, but is it the chicken or the egg? Top students who go to second-tier universities do as well in life as top students who go to elite colleges, concludes research by Princeton and Mellon Foundation economists.   Only students from disadvantaged backgrounds get an edge from attending an elite school.  From the New York Times:

. . . they compared students at more selective colleges to others of “seemingly comparable ability,” based on their SAT scores and class rank, who had attended less selective schools, either by choice or because a top college rejected them.

The earnings of graduates in the two groups were about the same — perhaps shifting the ledger in favor of the less expensive, less prestigious route.

The super-elite schools tend to have large endowments and the ability to discount tuition significantly for middle-income students.  I wonder why non-wealthy students still choose second-tier and third-tier private colleges where the sticker price is close to the real price.

My stepdaughter Susie’s boyfriend works in admissions for a private, non-elite university, where he’s known for rejecting applicants who aren’t prepared to earn a degree.  Colleagues call him The Dream Crusher.  Of course, he’s also The Debt Preventer.

Update:  More on the “higher -education bubble.”

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