I watched the NBC news on April 24, and they offered another news story on the high cost of higher education. And then their discussion was about the cost of elite or tier one universities. What they did not talk about, and what is seldom discussed is where should you go to college? What is the evidence that elite or top tier universities provide a better education?
Members of the U.S. power elite have long sent their children to elite universities in an effort to prepare them for professions and well paying positions. And even faculty at the lower level universities (regional universities, community colleges) try to get their children into the tier one and elite universities.
There is clear evidence that graduating from college is important for economic success in our rapidly changing economy. It is less clear that attending elite universities offers more economic success than graduating from your local public university.
Young people, high school and college students want to choose where to go to college, but there are significant cost considerations that parents ( if they are going to pay) should consider. And, if the student is going to pay, the parents should do some serious counseling on debt.
Top private universities can cost $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Or, you could go to a U.C. for about $14,000 per year as an undergraduate. Many graduate programs are more. Premium ( first tier) U.C.’s cost somewhat more. U.C. Berkeley, U.C.L.A., etc.
Or, you could go to a CSU for $6,800 per year. Or, you could go to a community college for the first two years of college at a cost in California of about. $1,400 per year.
There is some interesting evidence reviewed here. Revisiting the Value of Elite Colleges. David Leonhardt.
There is, of course, evidence that graduation from elite universities place you in elite circles. That is why presidents, senators, and our own oligarchy send their children to elite schools – not to the local community college. It was long the case that almost all of the state legislature was graduates of the U.C. or from private universities. That is slowly changing as CSU grads and community college grads win more positions.
Entrance into elite status such as positions at Wall Street firms or legal firms makes a significant financial difference over a lifetime.
A 2011 article in the New Yorker argues clearly going to college itself has a value. Surowiecki. “things may look grim for college graduates, but they’re much grimmer for people without a college degree. Though recent college grads are having a hard time finding a job, it’s much harder for recent high-school graduates, who have an unemployment rate of nearly twenty-two per cent. And the over-all unemployment rate for college grads is still, at 4.4 per cent, very low. More striking, the college wage premium—how much more a college graduate makes than someone without a degree—is at an all-time high. In fact, the spiralling cost of education has to some degree tracked the rising wage premium; as college has, in relative terms, become more valuable economically, people have become willing to pay more for it. “
See the excellent essay here. http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2011/11/21/111121ta_talk_surowiecki
Also see excellent web site by G. William Domhoff.