Curious about the value of an Ivy League degree? There is an article up today on “The Huffington Post” written by Tyler Kingkade entitled “What Everyone Gets Wrong About Where You Go To College” that we figured we’d share with our readers. Just from the title of the piece itself, we had a feeling there would be things we’d disagree with in Mr. Kingkade’s piece but that doesn’t mean we won’t share it anyway! After all, one of the purposes of our college admissions blog is to debunk myths about the highly selective college admissions process and correct common misconceptions. And herein is a misconception.
In his piece, Mr. Kingkade writes under a headline that reads “Where You Go To School Doesn’t Really Affect Your Income” (wrong!), “Economists Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale concluded in 1999 that students accepted into elite colleges, but chose ‘moderately selective’ schools, were doing just as well in income roughly 20 years after graduating. As Time magazine notes, Krueger and Dale did a follow up in 2011 that found the same, so really it doesn’t matter whether you went to the University of Penn or Penn State University.” So it really doesn’t matter whether you went to Penn or Penn State? That’s quite the leap of logic from this finding! We understand that Mr. Kingkade is trying to grab the reader’s attention but attending Penn or Penn State is not the same. It’s not the same kind of education. It’s not the same kind of students you spend time with over the course of four years. Graduating students don’t have the same career prospects. They just don’t. Let’s say you want to be a consultant for McKinsey, one of the world’s top consulting firms. You are not getting an interview — much less a job — coming out of Penn State. They hire almost exclusively from the Ivy League or schools such as Stanford, MIT, and Duke.
And as for earning potential, the lowest median starting salary for one of the eight Ivy League institutions ranges from Brown’s $49,400 to Penn’s $59,600. How do these figures compare to non-Ivy League colleges? It’s about 32% higher than for non-Ivy, liberal arts colleges. There’s an old Mark Twain saying about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Just because Mr. Kingkade can cite one study doesn’t mean he should ignore other pertinent data.