There is a world of difference between the FACULTY of a top tier university, which is what defines its reputation, and the quality of education that all students receive. The most productive research faculty skew heavily to the top universities. This does not tell you anything about the quality of the education an individual student receives. The things that make faculty members tops in their fields have essentially nothing to do with undergrad education. Anyone who has any business holding a faculty position had better be prepared to teach an undergrad course in their field. Even at the most elite colleges only a tiny fraction of the students will be so far advanced as undergrads that the ability to do research with a National Academy member is better than doing it with some other tenured professor. For the vast majority of students the presence of research superstars on campus is kind of cool, but does not matter.stoptothink wrote: ↑Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:06 pmI don't wholeheartedly agree with Gladwell's stance on this, but I do totally agree that the actual ROI on going to an expensive (even if "elite") university for undergrad is almost never there. Myself, I turned down acceptance to many "elite" universities to go to "average" universities because the financial situation was better (I wasn't getting any parental financial aid) and it turned out well for me. I also hire a ton of kids who just finished their STEM undergrad education. I have individuals on my staff who did their undergrad at Stanford, Brown, CAL, Northwestern, to name a few and by far the top performers are from two local (far from "elite") universities. Three of those employees, all still currently doing contract work for me, are now at Stanford, Baylor, and UT-Southwestern med schools on pretty significant scholarship. My current superstar came to me from Utah Valley University, right up the road, with a list of publications as long as her arm. Most of my employees from the "elites" didn't come to me with a single publication and she is smarter and more productive than all of them.gotlucky wrote: ↑Thu May 31, 2018 7:27 pm Malcolm Gladwell writes about this in David vs Goliath. With regards to publishing research papers, he argues that the top 5% of most universities go on to publish a disproportionate amount and that the bottom 30% of best research universities hardly publish anything.
When it comes to university education, there is some severe elitism on this board. My children will make the call, but they will be nudged towards the two local, and very cheap, universities. If they want to go somewhere else, I say good luck figuring out how to cover the cost disparity (currently in the several tens of thousands a year).
That is why a lot of graduates of the top liberal arts colleges can do so well in grad school and academic careers. As undergraduates they needed undergraduate educations. They did not need to get lectures from a Nobel laureate in a sophomore course.
The quality of education has much more to do with the fit of a student with a college, the student's ability and motivation and whether they need to spend a lot of time working in order to pay the bills.
This thread was about average students, so the superstars don't matter. But the superstars are qualitatively different than the rest of us.
I read an old report from MIT, that the absolute tippy top of the academic students overwhelmingly went to a tiny number of famous top tier colleges. By the "top" students, they meant the 300 most talented kids applying to college in a year from around the world. They said that MIT was third, behind Harvard and Stanford, in attracting those kids. Based on the numbers, that would imply a huge proportion of these superstars went to just those three colleges. Similar to the distribution of where the Math and Physics Olympiad students go. THAT is top tier.
But, as I said, this is only relevant to a tiny fraction of the students even at my small list of top tier colleges. They are the truly brilliant. The other undergrads at these top colleges are simply bright people, not geniuses. On average, they could get just as good education plenty of other places.