The Ivy Coach Daily

October 17, 2021

A Big Chunk of America’s Richest Attended Elite Universities

A significant percentage of America’s wealthiest attended one of twelve universities.

Remember when a high school counselor, Brennan Barnard, from atop his perch at the trying-so-hard-to-sound-fancy The Derryfield School in New Hampshire wrote about what he described as essentially America’s misplaced obsession with elite universities? You know. The guy whose Twitter handle features a young person in Yale gear. You know. The guy whose school’s college counseling page features students accepted to the likes of Brown, Bowdoin, Syracuse, and Penn while not featuring photos of their admits to the likes of Alfred, Drew, Ithaca, and Western New England University. You know. The man of the people. The guy who moonlights as the college counseling director to bobsledders, skiers, and sailors navigating the college admissions process from US Performance Academy. You know. The guy who tried to make the argument that our obsession with elite schools is perverse. You know. The guy who argued that one doesn’t need to attend an Ivy League school in order to become successful. One of his key points at the time he made his argument was that the undergraduate institution boasting the most Fortune 500 CEOs happens to be the University of Wisconsin — with 14 CEOs. He didn’t happen to mention that Harvard University, at the time, boasted 12 Fortune 500 CEOs. Or that six Ivy League schools in addition to Stanford University were among the 30 most common alma maters of these Fortune 500 CEOs, as reported Abigail Hess for CNBC. Instead, he glossed over these important facts, dismissively writing in a parenthetical: “(though some of those institutions were well represented)” in reference to the Ivies. Well, we expect he will not be writing an editorial on a new Forbes piece out this week that finds more than one-fourth of America’s richest people went to one of twelve universities.

Over One-Fourth of America’s Richest Attended One of 12 Colleges

In a piece for Forbes by Matt Durot entitled “More Than One-Fourth Of America’s 400 Richest Went To One Of These 12 Colleges,” the headline reads, “Most of the Ivy League universities are among the dozen institutions, but so too are a couple of high-ranking state schools.” Knowing Mr. Barnard, if he does choose to write about this piece, he’ll likely ignore that most of the Ivies are among the dozen institutions, focusing instead on the couple of high-ranking state schools. And these state schools, UMichigan and Berkeley, well, they are two of the most selective, elite state schools in all of America. In any case, as Durot writes in his piece, “Columbia is one of just 12 schools that together can claim more than a quarter of this year’s Forbes 400 as alumni — 112 list members, to be exact. Seventy-one of these billionaires went to seven Ivy League schools — Brown University is the only school from the conference that failed to make it into this elite college dozen. At the top of the list is Harvard, which has more alumni on The Forbes 400 than any other university — with 15…The University of Pennsylvania, which topped our last ranking of schools with the most Forbes 400 alumni in 2019, placed a close second this year with 14. Yale and Stanford rounded out the top three — tied with 12 graduates each. Two public universities — the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley —  are also among the top 12 schools for Forbes 400 members.”

The Argument of the Hypocritical Derryfield School College Counselor Has Holes

So let’s get this straight. Of the 400 richest people in America, 71 went to Ivy League institutions. 15 of these folks went to Harvard, 14 to UPenn, 12 to Yale, and so on. Outside of the Ivy League, many of these folks also attended some of our nation’s most elite universities, like Stanford, Cal, and UMichigan. More than a quarter of the folks on the list attended one of just twelve institutions. So, no, Mr. Barnard. It seems America’s obsession with elite universities is not misplaced. Your whole argument that America’s obsession with these schools was based on your misleading narrative that many of the richest people in America didn’t attend elite universities. It seems your argument is like Swiss cheese. It has some mighty big holes.

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