UGA or Duke? Do elite schools reap greater returns?

Studies suggest graduates of elite schools like Duke earn more over their lifetimes.

Studies suggest graduates of elite schools like Duke earn more over their lifetimes.

Many Georgia parents of high school seniors are debating whether to push their child to attend UGA or Tech or go broke sending them to Duke or Emory.

Are those select colleges worth the thousands more that they charge in tuition?

That’s a question that you will hear discussed at almost every high school PTA meeting these days. With elite colleges costing $50,000 a year for tuition, room and board, many parents reason that their children should go the HOPE route and attend UGA , GSU or Valdosta for undergraduate and save their money for a top tier graduate school.

But will that $50,000 a year at a Princeton or Yale lead to higher salaries and more opportunities down the road?

A New York Times story explores that issue — one that we have discussed here at length in the past –  in a news story this week.

According to the Times:

Among the most cited research on the subject — a paper by economists from the RAND Corporation and Brigham Young and Cornell Universities — found that “strong evidence emerges of a significant economic return to attending an elite private institution, and some evidence suggests this premium has increased over time.”

Grouping colleges by the same tiers of selectivity used in a popular college guidebook, Barron’s, the researchers found that alumni of the most selective colleges earned, on average, 40 percent more a year than those who graduated from the least selective public universities, as calculated 10 years after they graduated from high school.

Those same researchers found in a separate paper that “attendance at an elite private college significantly increases the probability of attending graduate school, and more specifically graduate school at a major research university.”

One major caveat: these studies, which tracked more than 5,000 college graduates, some for more than a decade, are themselves now more than a decade old. Over that period, of course, the full sticker price for elite private colleges has far outstripped the pace of inflation, to say nothing of the cost of many of their public school peers (even accounting for the soaring prices of some public universities, especially in California, suffering under state budget crises).

Despite the lingering gap in pricing between public and private schools, Eric R. Eide, one of the authors of that paper on the earnings of blue-chip college graduates, said he had seen no evidence that would persuade him to revise, in 2010, the conclusion he reached in 1998.

“Education is a long-run investment,” said Professor Eide, chairman of the economics department at Brigham Young, “It may be more painful to finance right now. People may be more hesitant to go into debt because of the recession. In my opinion, they should be looking over the long run of their child’s life.”

He added, “I don’t think the costs of college are going up faster than the returns on graduating from an elite private college.”

Still, one flaw in such research has always been that it can be hard to disentangle the impact of the institution from the inherent abilities and personal qualities of the individual graduate. In other words, if someone had been accepted at an elite college, but chose to go to a more pedestrian one, would his earnings over the long term be the same?

In 1999, economists from Princeton and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation looked at some of the same data Professor Eide and his colleagues had used, but crunched them in a different way: 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 one exception was that children from “disadvantaged family backgrounds” appeared to earn more over time if they attended more selective colleges. The authors, Stacy Berg Dale and Alan B. Krueger, do not speculate why, but conclude, “These students appear to benefit most from attending a more elite college.”)

– By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog.

110 comments Add your comment

Holt Spivey

December 20th, 2010
7:25 am

Does the G.P.A. in college affect their salary and if so what percent? A pediatritian told us that it made a significant difference

Ernest

December 20th, 2010
7:55 am

Another way to look at this is the quality of life our student will have while in undergraduate school. Our oldest was accepted in several ‘top tier’ schools however that package offered would have required he help with some of his education, i.e. work study, loans, etc. He attends a quality university and hopefully will have little to no debt once he graduates. As a result, he is able to participate in many internal and external programs which I believe will enhance his overall educational experience.,

Add to this, when he applies for summer internships, I believe he will be better positioned as I understand firms look for diversity with respect to the schools represented in their programs. Yes, there probably will be set aside slots for students from Ivies but there should also be slots for students from other reputable universities.

As a parent, we are pleased with the route chosen by our child and believe they will reap benefits as a result of this.

Sorry, Wrong Answer

December 20th, 2010
8:12 am

Elite schools create for the student a guaranteed network of wealthy, connected students. A middle class student may be shut out of this network to some extent simply by not have money to spend on the ’student activities’ that the others undertake – spring break in Europe, winter break in Vail or Honolulu, yachting, expensive parties, but even the middle class kids network with famous and well connected faculty, if not with wealthy students. A disadvantaged student may be “adopted” by the wealthy elite (as a Black Dukie from south Philadelphia told me) and treated to the things he or she would not be able to afford. At the least, elite schools are training grounds for how to be upper echelon corporate – middle and lower income kids leave knowing how to dress, how to speak, how to carry themselves. The networking and the polishing enable elite school graduates to not only get a great first job, but to advance more rapidly. I have seen the magic – you not only get the interview with the elite corporate firm, but you also get the better first placement than the public school grad, and you see the look on the upper manager’s face change from “oh, yeah?” to “oh, WELL then!” when you tell him or her where you attended school. Firms or at least sections of firms often are predominantly from one or two elite schools, where rising managers tend to hire and promote people from their alma maters. The manager sees the attendance at the elite school as a nonverbal cue that the candidate has the same value set, whether or not that is true.

Public universities may have excellent departments and terrific honors programs, but there is not sufficient uniformity in the student body (racial, income, intelligence, motivation) to justify such an assumption. Public university graduates tend to identify with each other through sports teams (GO DAWGS!) or individual majors, but not the entire university.

Yes, it is worth the money if you want to work on Wall Street, for a silk stocking law firm, for a major international corporation, or as a national politician or Supreme Court judge. Otherwise, if you plan to stay close to home the public university will give you the network you need.

GNGS

December 20th, 2010
8:24 am

Questions like this have convinced me that income cap for HOPE is not a good idea. The main goal of HOPE is to keep our talent young people in state. The reality is that the only reliable predictor of a student’s perform in school is income: higher the income, better the performance. So, if we want to keep these young people in our state, HOPE has to be there for them. For a family to entertain sending their kids to Duke or Emory, they are not poor and they are probably in the income range of $150,000 to $250,000. While these numbers seem big, they are really upper middle income. A family in this range has to stretch to send their kids to a pricy private school, especially if it has more than two kids. Fortunately for the state of Georgia, they are sensitive to price of education.

P.S.: between GT-UGA and Duke-Emory, of course GT-UGA is a better choice, unless you have so much money that $200,000 is a small number for you.

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
8:26 am

I think something that people overlook….

There is the “elite” such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, CalTech, etc.

There is the “great” such as Emory, Duke, GA Tech, etc.

There is the “good” such as most all State Universities (Alabama, UGA, etc.).

There is the “average” such as GA State, Kennesaw State, etc.

There is the “below average” such as Troy State, GA Southern, etc.

These are catagorized by quality of education. The costs vary within each catagory. You can see lists of quality of education in the annual Time Magazine rankings (as well as other magazines).

Maureen Downey

December 20th, 2010
8:30 am

@GNGS, I wonder how even families earning $150,000 can swing $40,000 or $50,000 a year? I know families who have taken second mortgages to send their kids to pricey schools. Seems nuts to me but I agree that the student who is a networker by nature will end up with some strong contacts from a Harvard or Yale. And I have friends in investment banking in New York who tell me that almost all their hires are from the top schools. (Not sure if that is a much of a recommendation any longer given the role of irresponsible banks in the subprime mortgage meltdown.)
Maureen

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
8:47 am

@GNGS

I honestly did not think that HOPE was ever a good idea. Sure, it sounded good on the surface, but when you really think about it, it wasn’t good at all. Why?

Because it allowed for:
1. Schools like UGA, GA Tech, etc. to increase tuition, fees, etc., mostly unchecked. They could increase these with the justification that “HOPE will take care of it.” Look at the student facilities that are more like your favorite Spa. Heck, even GA State rolled out a ’student’ atheletic facility that rivals the Falcons training camp.
2. Schools that target the lowest class to grow. These are the schools that train for Doctor’s Assistants, Legal Assistants, and Assistant Assistants, etc. These schools sprang up all over the place with advertisments to lure in anyone to take advantage of HOPE.

If the purpose of HOPE was to retain the brightest students in the State, then it should have been a merit based scholarship with strict guidelines for high school GPA and SAT scores. However, it was not.

Lee

December 20th, 2010
9:09 am

Chicken or the egg?

Does the graduate from an elite institution have an earnings advantage because they went to an elite or because they come from an upper income, well connected family?

I submit that once you land your first job, where you attended school becomes less and less important.

TopPublicSchool

December 20th, 2010
9:14 am

You will need a private school application and recommendation filled out correctly…and once you’ve passed the test for “elite” …you will need to pay even more….

It’s all about the money…make a nice donation and they will give you an honorary diploma.

Donations /Northside Atlanta Warren T. Jackson Elementary…explaining how it works.
http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/36/XE6fjYH8sc8

TopPublicSchool

December 20th, 2010
9:16 am

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Maureen …haven’t you figured this out, yet?

TopPublicSchool

December 20th, 2010
9:19 am

Sell your soul and you too can be part to the ELITE…
Don’t teach you children to do this…It is not pretty in some of those mansions on West Paces Ferry Road.

Ernest

December 20th, 2010
9:21 am

HS Public Teacher, unfortunately many do not know the history of the Hope Scholarship. It has become an entitlement program albeit funded with revenues from the lottery. These are NOT taxpayer dollars but funds voluntarily paid by lottery participants.

You can read one version of the history and evolution of payments at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HOPE_Scholarship

GNGS

December 20th, 2010
9:35 am

Maureen, I was making the exactly same point you are making. An upper middle income family is sensitive to price of education. With HOPE, the state of Georgia has a chance of keeping their kids in state. For many students admitted to Duke and alike, they will get financial aid and they will most likely end up paying a portion of listing price. GT or UGA becomes competitive with schools like Duke because of the lower cost, or no cost tuition with HOPE. That is why income cap on HOPE is a bad idea because it will push these students out of state.

GNGS

December 20th, 2010
9:40 am

TopPublicSchool, HOPE is a merit-based program, albeit the standard is problematic.

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
10:03 am

@GNGS -

First, let’s face reality. Even if the tuition bill was exactly the same between Duke and UGA, there is a HUGE difference in quality of education. THIS is what makes Duke elite and UGA not – it isn’t the tuition bill.

Duke does not have any exam question that asks: “How many points is a 3 point shot worth?”

Duke does not have odd ball majors like UGA has. Duke is a highly respected insitution BECAUSE of its rigor. It prepares students extremely well for Law school and Medical school – and the statistics prove it.

Why does it cost more to go to Duke than to UGA? Because you get what you pay for!!!

Dr NO

December 20th, 2010
10:12 am

ALL HOPE candidates should be sent to Clayton State or ABAC.

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
10:17 am

In my opinion, the qualifications to get hope SHOULD change year to year based on the income provided by the lottery sales.

This should not be a promise but rather “gravy” for a college student.

EnoughAlready

December 20th, 2010
10:47 am

It’s all about having the right connections and hiring managers who graduated from the same schools.

However, I frown upon anyone who hires just because someone graduated from the same school. I’ve worked in that environment and it was a wasteland.

bb

December 20th, 2010
11:07 am

Contacts made at an Ivy are invaluable but not an a non-ivy “elite” private school. You either “go big or go home.” Either go Ivy or go to a good state school. Anything in the middle is a waste.

abouttime

December 20th, 2010
11:18 am

HS Public Teacher: Ga Southern is far from a “below average” school.

Maybe

December 20th, 2010
11:18 am

I think the answer is yes, but it depends on the school. It needs to be a true elite to make the high cost worthwhile. I am not sure the contacts are the key element (none of the elite school graduates I know got jobs through “contacts” from their undergrad days), but the WOW factor the resume generates. Person reviewing applicants gets lots of state U applications, only so many Harvard, Princeton, Yale. If you’re hiring for a high level position, which resume grabs your attention? That’s the true advantage of the elite degree. It makes people more willing to take a chance, so there are more opportunities to move up quickly.

depends on the field

December 20th, 2010
11:27 am

in some fields – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. for example:

engineering – more of a meritocracy – the cream will rise to the top
law – school is incredibly important as it puts you into an elite network

Obvious

December 20th, 2010
11:30 am

I love how schools like UGA will reject an application that a Duke or Princeton will accept on the sole basis that UGA administrators ‘know’ they’re a safety school, and want their acceptance rates to look better.

Old Physics Teacher

December 20th, 2010
11:31 am

Another thought most of the poster have forgotten about is this: If you’re “preparing” for a liberal arts degree (education, literature, history, i.e., any arts degree without an attempt to get into law school) as opposed to a business degree of known value (accounting, finance, etc) or science degree of known value (engineering, chemistry, NOT biology, zoology, or physics), it won’t make any difference where you go. Those degrees have little marketability and high numbers of graduates. I have a number of students who went to UGA on HOPE and are doing OK. I have one who went to Emory and then Harvard Law and is going to be filthy rich. Her incredibly high cost of education will be paid off in 5 years at most. If she had wanted to be a history professor, she’d be paying off her degree for most of her life. If she wanted to be a teacher, well.. any potential children/grandchildren would have to finish paying off the note.

PJ

December 20th, 2010
11:36 am

It isn’t just quality of education, elite schools have a higher proportion of academically-minded students. Surrounding yourself with those who are like minded in getting a quality education motivates and pushes you to do better. I was fortunate enough to do well in public high school, have parents who saved well and attend a top-20 private university. Though we had our share of fun, there was ample motivation to study and do well. Additionally, my degree from this school easily got me into the graduate school of my choice and put me on the top of the resume pile when applying for jobs. I would say it can be very beneficial for any qualified student to make it happen and attend a top-tier school.

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
11:37 am

@abouttime -

I grew up in that area. My sister went to Gerogia Southern. I know of which I speak….

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
11:39 am

@abouttime -

In fact, I am aware of one scale where GA Southern ranks #1 in the nation. Would you like for me to post it here?

Devildog

December 20th, 2010
11:39 am

Be a Marine, serve with the world’s best and then go to college on the G.I. Bill.

Magny

December 20th, 2010
11:42 am

As I read through the comments, it seems to me most people are ignoring the impact of financial aid. Almost no one pays the sticker price at expensive colleges. Some pay close to nothing. Financial aid is a game changer.

alex

December 20th, 2010
11:42 am

Some very good commets; I went to Emory in the 1980’s and most definitely would not send my children there. I am a physician and I doubt I could afford to pay for 2 children’s private education without significant loans.
Schools like Emory and Vanderbilt like to pretend that they are elite, they are not. I doubt my Emory degrees have done anything to enhance my employability

30-yr Higher Ed Admin

December 20th, 2010
11:43 am

Before you borrow one cent for a pricey education, read this book (and you can borrow it from the library):
Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus

InHonestTerms

December 20th, 2010
12:04 pm

Appied for Duke early decision, got deferred to regular decision. Got accepted into UGA first decision, so we have that in our back pocket. Waiting to find out if we get into UNC Chapel Hill before making decision. Would really like to give Duke a go if we can get in, because I well understand the networking potential there. I am a bit apprehensive though about the tuition, though they do a good job of making you feel comfortable that they will put togethet a financing package with loans, scholarship, etc that will make your contribution manageable. We will probably end up at UGA, because if not Duke I don’t see the benefit in out of state fees at UNC, when we can take advantage of HOPE (provided it will be there for us with our just under $110K/yr household income). We will see.

abouttime

December 20th, 2010
12:07 pm

HS Public Teacher:
Rankings and Recognition 2010

Georgia Southern University is recognized as one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
Georgia Southern is recognized as one of America’s Best Graduate Schools by U.S. News & World Report.
The School of Nursing is ranked in the Top 100 nationally by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools
The University’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program is featured in U.S. News & World Report 2011 Best Graduate Schools.
Georgia Southern was recognized by Forbes as being one of America’s Best Colleges.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance named Georgia Southern one of the Top 100 Best Values among Public Colleges and Universities.
The University’s College of Business Administration was named one of the Best 300 Business Schools in the nation by The Princeton Review.
Georgia Southern’s WebMBA program is ranked in the Top 20 as a “Best Buy” by Geteducated.com.
The Department of Chemistry’s Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society has been named one of only 46 Green Chemistry Chapters in the country. It has also been named one of the Commendable Chapters by the ACS.
The Department of Geology and Geography has been named one of the Top 100 Geoscience Programs in the country by the American Geological Institute.
The Engineering Technology Programs at Georgia Southern ranked 28th in the nation for total graduates, 26th for the number of women graduates, and 18th for total enrollment in its programs by the American Society for Engineering Education.
The Construction Management Program at Georgia Southern is the largest program of its kind in Georgia.
The ROTC Eagle Battalion (Military Science) at Georgia Southern is now the largest in the Southeast United States at a non‐military university campus.
The ROTC Eagle Battalion at Georgia Southern has the largest ROTC Nursing Program in the southeastern United States (32 total Nurse Cadets).
With over 500 undergraduate majors, the department of chemistry ranks in the top 25 producers of American Chemical Society-certified B.S. chemistry majors nationwide.
Georgia Southern University’s Undergraduate Game Design Program in its College of Information Technology has been ranked one of the top 50 in the United States and Canada by The Princeton Review.
Georgia Southern was presented with the University System of Georgia Regents Facilities Award for Excellence recognizing the campus’ long-term commitment to campus design and master planning.
Georgia Southern faculty member Karl E. Peace, Ph. D. has been honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for his numerous professional and charitable contributions. Peace is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar, senior research scientist and professor of biostatistics in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health.
Charles Hardy, dean of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, recently received the Distinguished Educator/Researcher of the Year Award from the Georgia Rural Health Association. Hardy was recognized for his leadership as founding dean of the College.
Georgia Southern’s College of Business Administration was recognized as one of the best business schools in the country by The Princeton Review. This is the fourth year in a row Georgia Southern has been included on the list. The Review also named the MBA program as one of the best in the country.
The University was named one of the nation’s safest college campuses by The Daily Beast, a popular online news reporting and opinion Web site. Georgia Southern was ranked No. 18.

MannyT

December 20th, 2010
12:07 pm

If the student is a decent networker, the better network comes with the better connected alumni base. Is the student likely to stay in a particular region, the broader network base may not matter as much.

How many folks pay a little bit of extra attention to a resume because it is from their school or their sports conference?

Networked kids will benefit from a school with better connections. Hard working kids that don’t network don’t need to pay extra.

As far as academic challenge, you can see what they are teaching at MIT online. The question is will you do anything with it if you are not enrolled? Lot’s of talk here about remedial courses for HOPE students. Check how remedial the courses are at better schools. More rigor, more challenge, and a better “typical” education at a better college.

If the college is good for the student, it is a reasonable price. Let the parents think back to their college expenses 20+ years ago. That same college probably seems like a bargain now compared to current rates. Unless the bottom falls out of college education market, like it has with real estate, your kids will have a bargain when they look back on it 20+ years from now.

Pius Paul

December 20th, 2010
12:09 pm

One thing for sure, the ‘Elite, or private’ schools cannot make up the intellectual difference for the millions who are dropping out of high school. Take a look at how many foreigners are attending our “Elite” schools and more importantly, their MAJORS!!

China is graduation FOUR TIMES THE NUMBER OF COLLEGE GRADS from the US this year — and they are graduating in hard sciences — math, science and engineering!!

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
12:10 pm

@abouttime –

You forgot Georgia Southern’s #1 national ranking among all colleges and universities….. they are #1 in STD rate among student body.

Disappointed

December 20th, 2010
12:11 pm

Now, if only the AJC actually employed reporters who could follow up on this story.

Oh well, I guess reading the Times is just as good right?

Testing, testing

December 20th, 2010
12:11 pm

@Alex… Ironically, it is usually more cost-effective for someone planning to attend medical school to go to Big State U and major in biochemistry or genetics, then apply to the state-supported medical school. When you get through your residency and your Board exams, your medical degree will count the same as the one from Johns Hopkins or Harvard unless you are in some very rarified specialty. My sister went the state route and her husband attended private undergrad and Tulane (private) medical school. They now work in the same practice doing the same thing and charging the same fee for service, except they were still paying off his loans after 10 years whereas her loans were paid off in three years.

But in networking jobs – law, politics, stockbrocker, large corporations, the connections give you the extra edge in hiring and promotions, and even in starting salary.

Art

December 20th, 2010
12:13 pm

I think the answer to the question is… “it all depends”. There are very few guarantees in higher education anymore… It’s always been a bit of a precarious decision when one is asked at such an early age, “What do they want to be when they grow up?” Heck, I’m in my early 50’s and still don’t know. I graduated from Duke and have many times thought I would have had more fun and made many more network friends, had I gone to my state school of UNC. Today, I have friends who attended the likes of Yale, Princeton and Harvard and loads of others who went to UGA, U of FL, FSU and a host of other schools that are mere dots on the map of higher education and I can tell from first-hand experience that there is very little rhyme or reason to whom is the wealthiest or more importantly, the happiest.

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
12:14 pm

@Pius Paul -

I agree with you on those facts. The question that is difficult to answer is: why?

I don’t think that the US K-12 education has changed radically over the years. So then, what has changed?

I feel that the answer is our society and how we parent. Yes, some people today are great parents, but I am talking average here. Too many parents (compared to before) in the US let the TV baby sit. They don’t teach values or morals. They expect schools to do everything for their child. I feel that this is a new approach in US society – and one that explains the facts that you mention.

If we agree on that part, then the question becomes: how can we change it?

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
12:18 pm

@abouttime,

I am being honest and real. Anyone that thinks that GA Southern can hold a candle to, let’s see…..

1. Any Ivy League school
2. Any ACC school
3. Any SEC school
4. Any PAC 10 school
and so on…..

is a total fool. It sickens me how individuals want to wave an academic banner on mediocracy. Piedmont College is #1 in (fill in the blank)! Western Alabama Technical College is #1 in (fill in the blank)! Get real!

All I am asking is for a little reality. That is all. Call me whatever name you like, but GET REAL!

Maureen Downey

December 20th, 2010
12:19 pm

@Art, I think you are right, but I also think that employers today believe that the top schools have done a lot of the sifting for them. When you get a job application from a Harvard grad, you know that the school only now accepts six out of 100 very brainy applicants. So, this person has already been vetted by a very discriminating and respected organization. I think the Ivy degree has to be a help in getting interviews.
Maureen

Magny

December 20th, 2010
12:21 pm

Old physics teacher also makes one of the most important points here.

GSUBLH

December 20th, 2010
12:22 pm

@ abouttime….THANK YOU ! Georgia Southern is a very good school ! @ HS School teacher, I spent alot of time down there myself, you should see it now, the facilities are impressive and so is the learning. If the future student ends up working in Georgia, North Florida,or South Carolina for employment after graduation….our school has good credibility and positive recognition compared to other state and regional universities.

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

@abouttime,

Here is a true experience about NOT getting real. A very average high school student (gpa and SAT) went to the counselor and asked about getting in to GA Tech engineering. The counselor, not wanting to hurt his feelings, said that he would need to
1. First go to West Georgia for 4 years
2. Then attend Southern Poly for 2 years
3. Then could transfer into GA Tech.

Why couldn’t the counselor just tell him that GA Tech wasn’t within his academic ability and needed to set his sights on something else? Why do we need to “nudge-nudge” and “wink-wink” when it comes to being honest about academic rigor? Why is honesty not the best policy?

Maureen Downey

December 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

@Magny, A few years ago. I interviewed higher education journalist Peter Schmidt about his book, “Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action.” In the book, he maintains that many select schools give admissions preference to white applicants and that, while people resent race-conscious admissions, they ignore admissions based on wealth or influence. “As it stands now, if anyone is winning the war over college affirmative action, it’s wealthy white kids, ” says Schmidt, a deputy editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Here is one pertinent question and answer from that interview on which students go to elite schools:
Q. You make a point that racial diversity at elite schools is often the African-American daughter of a doctor from Denver rather than the daughter of a black bus driver from Boston. And you note that only 3 percent of the students at the nation’s top-tier colleges come from the most disadvantaged fourth of society. Do colleges care about class diversity?

A. At the University of Tennessee, the average income of the families of students is more than $100,000 a year. Yet, Tennessee is not anyone’s idea of a rich state; the average income is closer to $40,000. Another figure that is telling is that at Northwestern University, a fifth of the students come from families making $250,000 a year.

HS Public Teacher

December 20th, 2010
12:26 pm

@GSUBLU – Okay, riiiggghhhhttttttt. Any GA Southern graduate can run academic circles around any Yale graduate. Yeah, riiiiggghhtttt. “nudge-nudge” “wink-wink”

JL

December 20th, 2010
12:26 pm

Am I the only who noticed that the referenced study compared the “most selective colleges” with the “least selective public schools?” So obviously graduating from Harvard instead of Kennesaw State will make a big difference. But GT/UGA aren’t the “least selective public schools” so this study is worthless for that discussion.

abouttime

December 20th, 2010
12:31 pm

HS Public Teacher – No one ever said that “Any GA Southern graduate can run academic circles around any Yale graduate”. Maybe they could and maybe they couldn’t. But to make an off the cuff comment that Georgia Southern is a “below average” school is simply not accurate. Thanks and have a nice holiday.

Lee

December 20th, 2010
12:33 pm

Oh good grief, you get out of college what you put into it. @Testing nailed it, SOME networking jobs and firms give a leg up on where you went to school. If you’re dreaming of that Wall Street or Madison Ave job, then yes, having that Ivy League pedigree probably is an advantage.

For the vast majority of folks, that first hire generally looks at the type of classes you took, the GPA in major, and overall GPA. The hiring managers use this information as a filter. Personally, if I’m looking at an Accounting major from Duke with a 2.8 GPA and an accounting major from Kennesaw with a 4.0 gpa, I would tend to favor the Kennesaw grad, all other things being equal.