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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Go State U! Why pay a premium for a 'polarizing' degree?

Borrow a bundle to go to a prestigious private college? Or go to your state's flagship state university for slightly less status and a whole lot less debt? High-quality state schools are a good bet for many students, writes Nate Silver as college Decision Day approaches.

Photo: Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill

Public confidence in higher education has declined rapidly, and is likely to keep falling, he writes. "In 2015, 57 percent of Americans had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education, according to Gallup polling. By summer 2023, that number had declined to just 36 percent." Republicans are the most dubious about college degrees, but confidence is down among Independents and Democrats too.

That Ivy degree could be seen as "polarizing" rather than prestigious, he writes.

In a forthcoming book, Silver predicts that "tech and finance are going to become much less tolerant of what they see as bullshit coming out of academia." Google, "despite probably being the most progressive or Silicon Valley company, nevertheless fired dozens of employees involved in pro-Palestine/anti-Israel protests that resemble those on university campuses," he notes.

He imagines a hiring manager looking at resumes from a recent graduate of Columbia and a recent graduate of the University of the North Carolina. The Columbia graduate, the manager thinks, is "more likely to be coddled, more likely to hold strong political opinions that will distract from their work" and "more likely to have benefited from grade inflation and perhaps dubious admissions policies."

Of course, "you could decrease the premium associated with a Harvard or Yale or Columbia degree by 30 percent and it would still be highly valuable," Silver writes. But, on the margin, the UNC graduate may be more employable.

State universities are "one of the things that truly make America great — and often offer a more well-rounded experience and a comparable education at a lower price," Silver concludes.

College students and professors are demanding "amnesty" for those arrested and suspended in anti-Israel protest, reports AP. "At issue is whether universities and law enforcement will clear the charges and withhold other consequences, or whether the suspensions and legal records will follow students into their adult lives."

Anti-Israel protests are "tarnishing" Ivy League degrees, reports Charles Gasparino in the New York Post. Some corporate recruiters are broadening searches to less political schools.

Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, a Columbia University graduate, has added "schools like Yeshiva University, the University of Florida and Emory University" to the recruitment list, writes Gasparino.

“A lot of high-profile schools like the Ivies and places like MIT have been getting funding from Qatar and the Middle East and with that they have brought in professors who push DEI and teaching kids to view the world through oppressor and oppressed, which means Israel becomes the oppressor,” said Gary Goldstein, chief executive officer of the Whitney Group, a prominent executive search firm.

I'd imagine that Wall Street firms would be wary of hiring students who hate capitalism.

Update: In a Forbes survey, 33 percent of hiring managers say they're less likely to hire Ivy graduates, while 42 percent say they're more likely to hire state university graduates, reports Emma Whitford.

“Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is really important,” says Laura Bier, a San Diego-based management consultant specializing in healthcare and defense. “Kids who've been to a public school have had a broader diversity of friends from different backgrounds, teachers from different backgrounds and are better able to be nimble in those situations.”

"Great state schools and ascendant private ones are turning out hungry graduates," concludes Whitford. "The Ivies are more apt to turn out entitled ones."

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댓글 12개

5월 04일

Depending on the major, a "state school" may be at/near the top nationwide for that major. For example, UC Davis is well known for Veterinary Medicine. Another strategy for saving $$ and exploring majors is junior colleges. Getting required Gen-Ed courses and introductory courses for majors at JC tuition is smart.


5월 01일

If one looks at Silicon Valley that has massively benefitted from California banning non-competes, the jumping is more about potential at the new company rather than conditions at the old company.


4월 30일

Top Ten majors at UNC-Chapel Hill out of 20k students.

Biology/biological sciences 8.6%

Behavioral sciences 7.6%

Computer science 6.7%

Economics 6%

Mass communication/media studies 5.7%

Health and physical education/fitness 5.4%

Business administration and management 5.1%

Political science and government 5.1%

Applied mathematics 3.3%

Registered nursing/registered nurse 3.1%

Compared to top eight majors at Columbia University out of 8800 undergraduates.

Computer Science. 352 Graduates.

Economics. 282 Graduates.

Political Science and Government. 231 Graduates.

Research and Experimental Psychology. 165 Graduates.

Social Sciences. 159 Graduates.

History. 133 Graduates.

English. 100 Graduates.

Neuroscience and Neurobiology. 86 Graduates.

The problem is that being a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate takes several careers off the stable compared to Columbia or Harvard.


JK Brown
JK Brown
4월 29일

In the increasingly distant past, you needed to go to a Harvard or Yale to be exposed to some of the great thinkers, but today, those that matter appear in discussions posted online.

And the "status good" nature of the Ivies is becoming a blemish. Sadly it takes a long time. Here is a 10 yr old discussion from Uncommon Knowledge

“The principle value of holding a Harvard degree is never again having to be being impressed by a Harvard degree”--Thomas Sowell


JK Brown
JK Brown
4월 29일

More likely the Wall Street firms and big law firms will be hesitant to hire those who have open, aggressive anti-semitism in their past. After all, a client has to be able to trust the firm's employees not to be malevolent to their interests.

If you were Jewish or did business with Israel, could you trust someone who was Hamas-aligned lawyer or broker, barring that they've openly repented their college foolishness?

4월 30일
답글 상대:

Law firms hire from the top law schools that is very different that being an undergraduate. The better question is whether going to Columbia helps getting into Columbia Business School or Columbia law school versus UNC-Chapel Hill.

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