An updated study, originally done 10 years ago, finds that contrary to popular belief, graduating from an elite college does not increase the income for most students.
The original study, done by economists Stacy Dale of Mathematica and Dale Krueger, a Princeton economist, found that most student that graduate from an elite college do not make more money in the long run than those that graduate from lesser known colleges. This new study builds on that older study with newer and better data.
The new study found that where you apply to college is more important than where you actually attend. Students who applied to elite colleges, even if they weren’t accepted, had earnings comparable to those students who attended elite colleges. On the other hand, strong students who didn’t even try for acceptance at an elite college had lower income earnings. The theory behind why this occurs is that those students who apply to elite colleges have more self confidence and ambition than other students.
The exception to this finding was for black, Latino and low income students as well as those whose parents did not graduate from college. These students who attended an elite college all had a significant earnings increase over students who did not attend elite colleges.
Going to an elite college can have certain advantages such as higher graduation rates and the experience of being around other high achieving students. But this study reinforces what I have often said, college is more about what you do while in college than where you attend college.
Are you willing to think outside the elite box?