Phi Beta Cons

Re: Is it worth it?

Whether the prodigious cost of going to an elite school is justified by the supposed increase in lifetime earning potential is a question more and more people are asking. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that there is a direct relationship here — the more prestigious the university, the better the student’s chances in life. The education establishment thrives on examined assumptions and this one is a keystone.
Back in 1999, Stacy B. Dale and Alan Krueger published a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled “Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables.” You can read the paper’s abstract <a href="″>here.
Their conclusions, as summarized by Russell Nieli in an excellent paper published by National Association of Scholars (“The Changing Shape of the

River: Affirmative Action and Recent Social Science Research,” October 2004) “clearly undermine the notion that elite universities provide some sort of unique pathway to wealth, power, and occupational prestige in America.”
In the still substantially meritocratic United States, you succeed on the basis of your productivity. Credentials can open doors, but they don’t make people productive.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Most Popular

Film & TV

It’s the Deep Breath before the Plunge

Warning. SPOILERS are ahead. If you don’t want to know anything about episode two of the final season of Game of Thrones, stop reading. Now. One of my favorite moments in Peter Jackson's outstanding adaptation of Lord of the Rings happened in the final movie, The Return of the King. On the eve of Mordor's ... Read More