“But does an Ivy League degree really make all that much of a difference?” It’s a question we’ve heard posed countless times. And every time we hear it, we find ourselves nodding our heads. Yes, of course a degree from an Ivy League school (or other elite university) makes that much of a difference. And then there’s the followup question: “But what about all the successful people who didn’t attend Ivy League schools? How do you explain that?” That’s an easy one. To every rule, there are exceptions. Of course one can become wildly successful after attending a less selective university — with smarts, hard work, and savvy, anyone can be successful in America’s free market economy; it’s one of our nation’s greatest strengths.
The Success of Ivy League Graduates
But the Supreme Court is still filled with Ivy League graduates. McKinsey, Bain, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley are still filled with Ivy League graduates. So too is the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, the publishing industry. You name the appealing industry and you’ll find loads of Ivy League graduates. Now are there graduates of less selective schools in these industries? Of course, absolutely! For kicks, let’s say that a wildly successful movie mogul attended Nassau Community College. It’s certainly possible. But is it more likely that more wildly successful movie moguls attended Harvard rather than Nassau CC? Yes, and that’s our point.
The Compensation of Ivy League Graduates
And then there’s the money. As Brittany De Lea asserts in a piece for Fox Business entitled “How much does an elite college education really help grads?,” “According to research from BBC, graduates who attended a top institution out-earned their peers who graduated from non-elite schools by their mid-30s across all income distributions – but the effects were specifically pronounced for the poorest Americans and the ultra-rich. For the top 1 percent, graduates of less selective schools earn less than $80,000 annually by their mid-30s, compared with their Ivy League peers, who earn around $180,000. For the poorest graduates, an Ivy League degree leads to earnings of more than $160,000 per year. A low-income graduate from a less selective school, for comparison, will earn about $40,000. For middle-income Americans, Ivy League graduates will earn six-figures by the age of 34, but their peers who attended less selective schools make about $40,000.”
Wish to voice your opinion on this matter? If so, post a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you. But if you’re just going to write that you can become successful without attending an Ivy League school, know that nobody is disputing your argument. Of course that’s the case! Our argument — one backed by data — is just that it’s a whole lot easier to become successful after attending an elite institution, like an Ivy League school.