On the Value of an Ivy League Education

Ivy League Education, Education from Ivies, Ivy Education
It drives us bonkers when a writer of a letter to the editor to The Gray Lady uses a study in which the findings completely support the value of an Ivy League education to try to argue against the value of the Ivy League. The writer is ignoring the data in favor of the headline.

We recently dissected an argument in a letter to the editor written in response to an editorial written by The Editorial Board of The New York Times that called for an end to the practice of legacy admission. That argument, penned by a former Vassar College president, didn’t seem to take into account the fact that major alumni donors — whose children often receive preferential treatment in admissions — fill financial aid coffers, coffers that subsidize the educations of low-income students. But we’ve dissected that letter enough. Today, we figured we’d dissect another letter to the editor written in response to that same column in The New York Times.

The Argument an Ivy League Education Isn’t Important to a Student’s Future is Misleading

In a letter published a few days ago in The New York Times, Richard J. Boxer writes, “The underlying conceit of the editorial is that an Ivy League education can be a critical factor in a student’s future success. The most recent study of Fortune 500 executives shows that the University of Wisconsin produced the most chief executives in the country. And of the top 10 of the Fortune 500, eight were educated in public colleges. An equal number of C.E.O.s graduated from public colleges and private colleges. The legacy advantage should be removed. And while an Ivy League education may confer bragging rights at tony cocktail parties, public universities are far more economical and are engines for creating business leaders.”

6 Ivy League Schools Are Among 30 Most Common Alma Maters of Fortune 500 CEOs

And where did Mr. Boxer attend college? Why, the University of Wisconsin of course! Surprise, surprise. But Mr. Boxer’s love for Bucky Badger seems to be masking some other very important information in that same “recent study of Fortune 500 executives.” You see, Mr. Boxer glosses over the fact that Harvard University, at least as of a few months back, boasts 12 Fortune 500 CEOs. Mr. Boxer glosses over the fact that six — that’s right, six — Ivy League schools in addition to Stanford are among the 30 most common alma maters of these Fortune 500 CEOs.

Mr. Boxer, that recent study of Fortune 500 CEOs may have been great press for your alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, and we totally appreciate your support of public universities. But don’t use that study to try to sell the notion that Ivy League and other elite American universities aren’t “engines for creating business leaders” or that an Ivy League education isn’t often “a critical factor in a student’s future success.” Because it sure can be. Mr. Boxer, you seem to have shaped your argument around the marquee title of CNBC‘s summary of the study, ignoring the actual results of this study. But know that you’re not alone: a high school counselor at The Derryfield School in New Hampshire has made a similar mistake in the past.

 
 

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