At Ivy Coach, we love underdog stories. We love it when one of our students with pretty good grades and OK test scores gets into an Ivy League college when others at his school with significantly better grades and better test scores didn’t get in. This student was an underdog. But he was our underdog. Kind of like Rudy Ruettiger (Ruuudy, Ruuuuudy!), he defied the odds that were stacked against him and earned admission to the college of his dreams. In Rudy Ruettiger’s case, his dream school was Notre Dame. Rudy Ruettiger, it should be noted, was not a former client of ours. But back to the little engine that could that bested the Ivies. So who was this little engine that could?
It was Grinnell College. That’s right. Grinnell College. A piece in “MarketWatch” by Silvia Ascarelli entitled “How tiny Grinnell College’s endowment outperformed the Ivy League” absolutely riveted us. As Ms. Ascarelli writes, “Grinnell College, a small liberal-arts school in the middle of Iowa, is giving much larger colleges a run for their money, literally. In 2014, the school’s $1.8 billion endowment posted a 20.4% return — tying it with the University of Minnesota for the best one-year performance among the largest 100 U.S. colleges, according to Bloomberg calculations. That put tiny, but well-regarded, Grinnell ahead of Ivy League powerhouses like Harvard and Yale.” And when it comes to the endowments of schools like Harvard and Yale, the word ‘powerhouse’ is indeed fitting. And even an understatement.
So what mastermind is behind this remarkable investing at Grinnell College? It would be 38 year-old Scott Wilson, the chief investment officer for Grinnell. As the article points out, “On the whole, about 45% of Grinnell’s endowment is invested in stocks, 45% in alternative investments and 10% in cash and fixed-income instruments, Wilson explained.” We’ll be following along in the coming years to see if Grinnell College continues to outperform some of the powerhouses in the endowment space. But we can’t help but think this article isn’t so great for Grinnell. Now they risk other colleges poaching Scott Wilson! Heck, who wouldn’t want to invest some money with his guidance after reading this piece? Remember how the Red Sox made a play for Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s after he found lots of success with Moneyball in Oakland? It’s for these very reasons we don’t list the former admissions officers who work for Ivy Coach on our website. We don’t want to risk them being poached! Who needs that.
But today is a great day for Grinnell College. It’s a wonderful liberal arts school in the midwest and we’re rooting on this underdog story. Because we believe in miracles. Get it? If not, it’s cool.