From Darcy Burzynski of Rock Hill, in response to “Colleges get an ‘F' in finances” by Zoe Mendelson (Aug. 29 Viewpoint):
Zoe laments that an accomplished middle class student with an interest in science can ill afford his first choice in colleges (John Hopkins) without consuming his family's savings and putting his sister's college education at risk. While she gives the elite colleges an “F” in finances, I suggest the same grade for her for implying that E.G. would somehow be shortchanged by attending an affordable, but less prestigious, school.
In fact, statistics suggest that E.G would end up earning more money by doing just that. Apparently, for a person intelligent enough to be accepted to a top tier college, whether or not you actually attend makes no statistical difference in income 20 years later, according to a 34-college study by Princeton economist Alan Krueger and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation researcher Stacy Berg Dale. Rather, attending a slightly less selective school results in higher class rank, a tendency to stand out more to faculty, to earn higher grades and become more confident. While the advanages of the good old boy network of the Ivy League schools are often quoted, the alumni network of big public universities are, by definition, big and broad.
Unfortunately, many well intentioned families and students are marketed into believing that Ivy League bachelor degrees are worth the extra sacrifices. The reality is that Ivy League alumni are successful, not because the Ivies make them talented, but because they had the foresight to admit talented students. It's often the graduate programs at Ivy League schools that are top tier. The undergraduate tuition is their bread and butter, often subsidizing the graduate school.
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Students, take advantage of the great value public universities offer and save the large student loans for graduate school where the school bestowing your degree strongly correlates with future income. Higher education is more about what you make of it than where to attend.