Why More Public Schools Will Eventually Rank Higher Than Private Schools

Ever since the college admissions bribery scandal in 2019, I've been patiently waiting for society to start viewing public schools in a higher light. I postulated that some public schools will eventually be viewed as more prestigious than many private schools since it's harder to bribe your way in. Getting into public universities is all about merit.

According to the FBI, the universities involved in the admission scandals between 2011 and 2018 were Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, University of San Diego, USC, Wake Forest University, and Yale.

In other words, only one of the schools involved in Operation Varsity Blues was a public school, UCLA. University Of Texas El Paso men's assistant basketball coach was also caught accepting a bribe. However, UTEP's acceptance rate is literally 100%, so that school doesn't count.

When already wealthy families are spending between $250,000 – $6 million on bribes, you've got to wonder how rigged the college admission system really is. The people caught are likely only the tip of the iceberg.

Meanwhile, extremely wealthy families are donating hundreds of millions through the front door. These funds aren't legally considered bribes, but donations. However, we all know the quid pro quo assumption is that all of the children and grandchildren of those families will be admitted in the future.

Change Starts From The Top

As a graduate of William & Mary for my Economics degree and UC Berkeley for my MBA, I'm a public school product. So is my wife. Our parents were not able to comfortably afford to send us to private school. Nor did we want to take on student loan debt to attend private school.

However, as parents of two kids, choosing between public school and private school provides for an endless source of banter. After super funding two 529 plans, my wife and I are lucky enough to be able to now afford private school. We just don't know whether we should go the private school route or not.

Part of living an optimal life is anticipating change. And it is my belief that many public schools will eventually rank higher than many private schools. Therefore, spending lots of money on private schools may no longer be worth it. I've noticed differences between public school and private school kids.

One of the reasons why it's so hard to change the system is because money is too alluring to deny. It's hard for a college administrator to deny a $10 million donation from a family with a B+ kid over a poor family with an A+ kid who meets all the admissions criteria.

Ironically, there are plenty of A+ kids in the world. But there are much fewer families who can comfortably donate $10 million to just one institution.

A college administrator could justify the acceptance of a $10 million donation and use the funds to help poorer students. But the data doesn't play out. Instead, elite private schools accept a much higher percentage of wealthy families than represented in the general population.

Ivy League kids mostly come from rich families

It's Hard To Change The System – The College Board Example

People talk about institutional racism as one of the reasons why minorities have a more difficult time getting ahead. For example, let's say all of the creators of the latest SAT exam are white. Let's also assume most grew up upper-middle class and got to experience things like horseback riding and sailing.

If there is an SAT or ACT question that involves words such as starboard, port, stern, bow, bridle, or canter, one can assume the poor Vietnamese kid with no such experience has a disadvantage. Compound these myopic topics across many sections of an entrance exam and is it no wonder why kids from poorer families do worse?

Intuitively, people realize this system is not fair. Yet, if you just take a look at the current leadership of the College Board (creator of the SAT and ACT), you will see that they've done little to make it more representative of the American population.

Change is hard, even for a non-profit organization. Once you're making a lot of money in a leadership position, you won't want to give it up. Instead, you'll hold onto your power for as long as possible, half-heartedly trying to make things better for others not like you.

College Board Leadership Gets Paid Well

Let's be frank. If you make close to $2 million a year, like the CEO of the College Board does, are you really incentivized to change the status quo? No, you are incentivized to keep the status quo!

Once it seems like your time is near, you'll then try and tap the shoulder of someone who probably looks exactly like you or comes from a very similar background to take over. It's human nature to take care of people you like and know the best.

Below were the salaries of the College Board executives from 2018 according to NonProfitLight.com. Their salaries are up about 15% on average in 2021.

Perhaps the reason why some non-profits don’t have much in profits is because they pay their employees so much.

An Institution Must Take On The Institution To Make A Change

When it comes to making a change, an individual can only do so much.

The college entrance exam system is institutionalized. It is almost impossible to change until another institution boldly stands up and says no more. That happened in 2020, after many years of prodding.

In May 2020, the University of California Regents voted to drop the SAT and ACT from admissions. This was a huge move since the UC system has over 280,000 students. Since the decision, many other schools have followed suit, including those in the Ivy League.

The next institution to push back was Forbes in the way it ranks its universities. This change in ranking methodology is significant. It could do more for public schools, the middle class, and the poor, than any other institution.

Related: It's Time To Ban The SAT And The College Board

Forbes Changes Its College Ranking Methodology

After taking a break from its college rankings in 2020, Forbes decided to tweak its ranking system to better reflect the world we live in today. Forbes writes,

It isn’t enough to ask which schools give the best return on investment. It’s also important to evaluate what kind of students they educate and whether they make themselves accessible to those who can’t afford high sticker prices.

Even if, like Harvard, they promise to pay full freight for the low-income applicants they accept, do they take enough disadvantaged students to make that promise meaningful?

U.C. Berkeley does a much better job at this than does Harvard. At Berkeley, 27% of undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants, aimed at helping low- and moderate-income students pay for college. At Harvard, by contrast, the share of Pell students is just 12%. (On average, 25% of students enrolled in our 600 Top Colleges received Pell Grants.)

The five U.S. Military Service Academies—including West Point—are free and do not offer Pell Grants, although students pay by serving in the military for five to eight years after graduation.

In other words, Forbes decided to look at the hard data and not just accept lip service from private schools. It is easy for private schools with massive endowments to say they are doing their best to provide equal opportunities for all people. However, the reality is they do not.

If these schools wanted to help more people they would accept more people. The demand is certainly there. Further, they would also accept a higher percentage of students from low-income households. However, when you are extremely wealthy (huge endowments), you tend to want to keep that trend going.

Forbes College Rankings 2021 – 2022

For those curious about Forbes' latest college rankings, here they are:

  1. UC Berkeley – Public
  2. Yale
  3. Princeton
  4. Stanford
  5. Columbia
  6. MIT
  7. Harvard
  8. UCLA – Public
  9. U Penn
  10. Northwestern
  11. Dartmouth
  12. Duke
  13. Cornell
  14. Vanderbilt
  15. UC San Diego – Public
  16. Amherst
  17. USC
  18. Williams
  19. Pomona
  20. UC Davis – Public
  21. Georgetown
  22. Michigan – Public
  23. University of Chicago
  24. Rice
  25. University of Florida – Public

The top 25 colleges are still dominated by private schools. However, public schools are slowly filling up more spots.

There will obviously be plenty of people from private schools who will object to Forbes' latest college rankings. However, if more and more college ranking organizations decide to factor in the middle class and poor, perceptions will slowly change.

Leveling The Playing Field

I think back to my high school days. My family didn't have the money to pay for $2,500 Princeton Review classes and $50/hour after-school tutors. Instead, my parents told me to go to the library and borrow an SAT guide book.

When I got a mediocre SAT score, they just told me to try again. And when I could score no higher, that was it. No money was put behind me trying to get a better score because we didn't have much to spare.

It is this indelible memory that drives me to keep Financial Samurai always free. The kids who only have access to the library should have just as much help as those kids who have access to everything.

Here are my thoughts on Affirmative Action as an Asian-American. I know my kids will be judged more strictly due to their identity. But I plan to be teach them practical skills in grade school so they can become more easily independent.

Be Careful If You Have Money And Power

Of course, the corruption of a few does not represent the majority of alumni who attended elite private universities. Most private university graduates are fine people. However, the world is paying closer attention to nepotism and how money buys access.

Therefore, if you work at a public company, be careful hiring or promoting a relative. If you're the producer of a hit TV show like Jeopardy, don't be so stupid as to install yourself as the next host. And if you're an extremely wealthy family, donate money to a school other than your alma mater to help get your kid in.

Only if you are a politician does it seem OK to elevate your family members to greater power. Perhaps this will one day change in America too.

Attending a very expensive private school when everything can largely be learned for free online might one day be seen as a negative signal. If you are a Stealth Wealth proponent, attending a private school will make it harder for you to keep a low profile. The only way out is to say that you got scholarships.

Finally, given 75% – 80% of undergraduates attend public institutions, it may only be a matter of time before the majority take over. There is a depreciation in prestige of elite private universities.

Public School Rankings Should Continue To Increase

Rightly or wrongly, if you attended Yale and your daughter gets into Yale, people will start assuming some back dealings. She must have got in through legacy admissions. Her father is a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley and probably donated a lot of money. After all, what are the chances both of you get into a school with a 6% acceptance rate?

Why colleges must adapt and accept more lower income students to rank higher in the future.
Colleges are paying attention

However, if you went to Berkeley and your son gets into Berkeley, then people may assume the opposite. Wow, your son must be really smart since it's almost impossible to buy your kid's way into a public school. Entrance is based solely on merit and employers know this.

Since Forbes' latest college rankings came out, I'm sure other college ranking organizations will tweak their ranking methodologies as well. If they don't, they may be viewed as out of touch with the real world. Even worse, these college ranking organizations may be seen as in the pockets of elite private schools.

Yale, Harvard, and UC Berkeley Law schools pulled out of U.S. News & World Report's Law School rankings on November 16, 2022 because the schools viewed the rankings as unfair. The schools say the ratings’ methodology penalizes schools that encourage public service and low costs.

Public Schools Are Rising In Popularity Due To Change

Eventually, something will come out where a university is caught bribing a college-ranking organization. Therefore, Forbes should be lauded for taking a stance and giving up a lot of potential under the table money or favors.

Ultimately, if more ranking systems become more inclusive, traditionally exclusive colleges will be forced to change the way they admit their students.

It might take 50 years for public schools to dominate the college rankings. However, I'm confident it will eventually happen.

As a parent, I'm excited to see these changes take place! And in 50 years, the debate between public school and private school probably won’t even matter. Everything can already be learned for free online nowadays.

Related posts:

Private Or Public School? Spending $1 Million On Education Is A Lot

To Get Richer, Practice Predicting The Future

Reader Questions And Recommendations

Readers, do you think a ranking system that takes the middle class and poor more into account is good? Why do elite private universities claim to champion education for all while keeping acceptance rates so low? Why do private schools continue to favor already advantaged individuals? Do you think public schools will ultimately been seen as more prestigious than private schools because it's much harder to buy your way into a top-ranked one?

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About The Author

47 thoughts on “Why More Public Schools Will Eventually Rank Higher Than Private Schools”

  1. I want to offer some perspective on college rankings and admissions process that contributes to it, having gone through the latter twice in the past three years, with a junior and a freshman now enrolled at two in-state universities (and Sam, there will not be a spoiler alert as this starts, but you’ll want to read through for the final reveal).
    My now-freshman applied to mostly public schools, all of which made the SAT and ACT optional last fall during the admissions process. As a consequence, many selective colleges saw record-high numbers of applicants, and admissions rates at the top 100 colleges were at record lows. The thought is that kids with good grades, but so-so test scores, were emboldened to apply to selective schools that in the past, using the SAT/ACT, would not have admitted those without top admissions test marks.
    I expect that the test-optional trend will continue, for reasons you cite, especially the impression that high-stakes tests are biased toward those with resources to do well on them. I am sure that this is true – but at the same time, it’s also true that these tests also do a good job of predicting how well high school students will do in college. And it’s one of the only objective ways to measure that.
    Without the use of these tests, where will admissions officers look for other objective indications of potential performance?
    Grades? A good barometer, but if you think that high marks aren’t also heavily influenced by the same resources that allow for high SATs, you’re kidding yourself. Kids whose families can provide private tutoring, work the system to get additional help from schools and teachers, and those whose families generally have access to resources allowing them to perform well in AP classes or harder courses like calculus and physics will – guess what – have better grades than those who don’t have those resources. Do you think the parents ensnared in the Varsity Blues scandal didn’t work the grades side of the equation as well as the test prep component?
    Then what about extra curriculars? Colleges ask you to list what you’ve done with your spare time. And who has the most impressive ECs? Those whose families can help them attend cool summer camps, pay for sports coaching (hello, those Varsity Blues water polo and tennis players), volunteer for important causes, and help them establish non-profit charities (the number of 501c3’s started by kids who attend Top 20 colleges would blow most people away). Working as a waiter, babysitter or lawn cutter is hardly impressive compared to those who can forgo making money in the summer in favor of burnishing their resumes with such impressive activities. ECs definitely skew toward those with family resources so that kids don’t need evening and/or summer jobs.
    How about a compelling essay? Those are a fair measure of how someone thinks, right? If they actually write it, sure. And given the importance of a good essay, the same coaching and prep classes that help with SATs also are aimed at admissions essay writing. But unlike a public library book or the Khan academy to help one improve one’s SAT results, writing coaches cost money.
    My point is not that admissions tests don’t reflect a family’s SES and related resources – they clearly do. But so do other important, commonly-used metrics of what a teenager will bring to campus. It’s really nothing but a roll of the dice these days as to whether a high school student is really prepared for doing well at a highly-selective college like those atop the Forbes list. And this year it’s an even-higher stakes roll, because for the first time in decades, without a reliance on SAT and ACT results, colleges admitted kids based on grades that they often earned in remote, online classes in 2020 and 2021. We’ll see how they do in the next four years.
    To bring this home, I also wanted to share that my freshman was admitted to William and Mary as an in-state student. S/he was not admitted to several other similar colleges, both in and out of state. S/he had a 1500+ on the SAT, a 4.25 GPA and solid albeit not spectacular ECs. A generation ago, those marks would have been a shoo-in for admissions at any college. But the bar is higher now, and the “what it takes” to get into public and private top 50 schools is a much longer list.
    I appreciate your overall message on this topic (from previous posts as well) that many colleges can set up a person for a successful career, not just the “HYPS” hierarchy that too many become fixated with. College rankings, just like net worth, can become an arbitrary method of keeping score that don’t really tell you all that much.

  2. Keep dreaming, Sam. Yes, you could develop lots of different ranking systems that allow for much less prestigious schools to be ranked higher…but you’ve defined ranking in the basis of prestige. Berkeley does t have nearly the same level of prestige as Harvard. Heck, it doesn’t have the same level of prestige as Duke.

    What’s the real motivation behind the thrust of your arguments…

    1. What’s your solution? If you have a problem with Forbes ranking system, you should let them know. Change is hard, but the ranking systems will change. This is about forecasting change, not being stuck with the way things are.

      And I don’t view Duke being more well known or prestigious than Berkeley.

  3. (1) private schools aren’t impacted by that scandal. They still admit great students with low acceptance rates.
    (2) the benefit of a private school with small class sizes and individualized attention is profound. This can be a far better educational experience.
    (3) your example of the boat terms makes no sense to me. I’ve talked to my son. There weren’t subjects covered that he knew something about because he’s from a pretty good area in California.
    (4) why isn’t everyone up in arms over international students taking spots away from Americans because of money in it I ate and public schools?
    (5) we must have a standardized test to compare students because it’s so difficult otherwise.
    (6) admission criteria is not transparent and everyone should be upset about that.

  4. Unfortunately, SAT scores do not tend to change much from tutoring and they are strongly correlated with IQ test scores. This is a politically correct mythology Americans like to tell themselves that everyone has equal ability and potential to succeed. Group levels differences in SAT scores (intelligence) are primarily driven by environmental differences. However, within group differences among people with similar socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds are mostly due to genes.

    The research is very solid that intelligence is at least 50% genetic and is predictive of a wide range of life outcomes such as, educational attainment, life expectancy, divorce rates, etc. Because of this, I think getting rid of the SATs entirely would be a huge mistake. It helps colleges to admit students that are the most likely succeed and benefit from their educational opportunities. I didn’t get a great score on the SATs, but they are a valuable metric for colleges to use in the admissions process.

    1. I’m pretty sure if I studied 100 hours for the SAT and had hours of SAT 1X1 tutoring, I could easily raise my score by 10% at least. Going from 1,100 to 1,210 makes a big difference.

      1. Bucky Badger

        Samurai, I agree with your assertion that studying for the SAT does make a difference. Both my son’s attended a SAT prep school that was run by a PHD in engineering during the Summer before their Senior Year. The class entailed taking a either the SAT or ACT test everyday for three days a week throughout the summer. The class treated a missed question as an anomaly. They went through the missed questions in class and were taught the correct way to answer the question.

        Ironically, the PHD Engineer who started the school was especially strong in teaching English and composition. Both my sons had their SAT scores raise from around 1200 at the start of class to slightly over 1500 when they took the actual SAT in October.

        The students in this class worked their butts off. As an example of how intense the course was, the 4th of July was simply the fourth day in July and they had normal class that day.

  5. I’m going to be contrarian here and suggest it’s actually better for disadvantaged/ethnic students to attend a top-tier private school on full ride vs large public schools if you’re entering professions where contacts/culture/prestige is valued. Disclaimer: This does not apply to technical professions like medical school, engineering, etc.

    Good colleges, public or private, both provide robust education/knowledge to the students. However, the reason why top-tier private schools maintain their “brand name” cachet is that they are essentially finishing schools with stronger alumni networks. If you’re a wealthy student who attends a public (i.e. University of Colorado, Boulder, U of A, etc.) it really doesn’t matter because you already typically have the socio-cultural values, references and network of the elite and have the confidence to speak accordingly. This factors even more greatly getting promoted to the management level where people hire people similar to them.

    If you’re not from this background, and attend, say, UCB or UCLA, those schools are so diverse that you’ll likely not interact with the privileged set and will find your own ethnic or middle-class/blue collar enclaves comfortable. When you graduate and look for work, your sense of opportunities will be shaped by your limited peer/family exposure to the professional world. During interviews, when there are all sorts of unconsious “codes” or biases as to cultural fit of the organization, it can make or break getting on the right track. If you’ve never been part of the country club set but suddenly find yourself trying to excel in an elitist world/industry it can be a steep learning curve. I’ve seen more than a hanfdul of former H.S. classmates who attended UCB or UCLA and ended up in more back office roles because they just didn’t know what they didn’t know when first getting started nor had the family connections to steer them and show them the world and all its opportunities.

    1. Fair points. A greater benefit for the disadvantaged because it’s a much bigger cultural difference. But that data shows elite private schools aren’t doing enough to accept these kids.

  6. I was a lower income kid that went to Princeton. The SAT helped me a lot. I had good grades but not the best (3.8 out of 4), and was at a public school that hadn’t sent a kid to an ivy league in 10+ years. One of the reasons I even bothered applying to the ivies was because I did so well on the SATs that everyone told me I should.

    My parents couldn’t afford tutors or fancy prep sessions either, but I took a $50 course at the community college that was superb.

    In many ways my story is one of those classic American stories people used to talk about. My parents were immigrants, arriving in the US with two suitcases to their name. It took my mother a few years of living here before she was fluent in English. They were both highly educated in their home country though, which allowed them to thrive and build their careers here.

    For all the faults of the SAT and ACT exams, they were a path that allowed some kids to be discovered. I am concerned that colleges that are getting rid of them aren’t replacing them with something better.

      1. Investment banking, same as you. I’m sure you would not be surprised to hear it’s been financially rewarding but stressful and emotionally unfulfilling. I’ve been lucky enough to make it to MD at least. I’m hoping to switch to a new career in my mid 40s.

        1. Cool. How much is the MD base salary nowadays and how much can you make all in, in a regular year?

          Yeah, after a while, a lot of things becoming unfulfilling, including spending a lot of time solely focused on making money as a career.

  7. I feel like there are tons of universities in America that provide good-to-great education, but won’t be sought after because it doesn’t have the same “prestige” as those private ones. Forbes rankings, US News rankings, rankings in general provide decent info, but because people will always have the desire to get into the “best” schools, colleges like UVA, W&M, Rutgers, TCNJ, UGA, FSU, Clemson, SUNY, VT will slip under the radar. Which is unfortunate because they’re all great great places to go.

  8. We raised two kids via public school system all the way to high schools, then both got into UC Berkeley without any tutoring lessons, SAT Prep classes or private college councilors. We always believe that kids should get into the college based on their academic ability without parents close involvements. Believe it or not, we didn’t even read their college applications or essays.

    One graduated top of his class from Berkeley engineering now working as software engineer. The other one also graduated top of his class from Haas Business and worked as investment banker then on to a start up.
    Both kids adjusted well at Berkeley as public schools do not offer any handholding, and they had to figure out how to use resources on their own. Public schools are more like the real world with kids from different social economic background, and it offers good opportunity for kids to learn to be on their own without all the pampering from expensive private schools.

  9. The crazy thing is that people rarely choose their college based on academics or how they’ll look on a resume. They usually choose the college that does the “best job” recruiting them. Colleges mostly seem to recruit 17 year-olds by telling them about their campus: how pretty it is, what kind of clubs there are, how active the student union is, etc. They’ll show off their rec center or their sports leagues, and they try to convince you that you’ll “fit in” at their college.

    They act like parents in a particularly nasty custody battle: “Come with me, I’ve got shiny new toys and a house with a pool!” It’s gross because literally none of that matters. The only thing that matters when going to college is whether or not this really expensive experience will give you the ability to get a job afterwards.

    – Where’s the FI/RE?

  10. Your comment “If there is an SAT or ACT question that involves words such as starboard, port, stern, bow, bridle, or canter, one can assume the poor Vietnamese kid with no such experience has a disadvantage. Compound these myopic topics across many sections of an entrance exam and is it no wonder why kids from poorer families do worse?”. You could easily replace the word Vietnamese with White and the statement would be just as true.

  11. An interesting pivot in the past year at Ivy league schools has been the simultaneous push for social justice and dropping the requirement for the SAT. For this academic year, many of the private schools are accepting a much higher proportion of blacks and latinos than in the past. This practice allows them to improve their overall diversity profile while at the same time not having to worry about a hit to their overall SAT standings. My white soon-to-be college freshman, all A’s, 2 different calculus courses and differential equations, with an IB diploma and captain of his swim team, was flat out rejected from Cornell and Dartmouth (I have friends who work for Cornell who’ve confirmed that their number one priority for admissions this year was social justice). While my son will be fine going to a great engineering college at a good state school, still somewhat annoying to see him as a victim of circumstance.

    1. Where is he going?

      I’m just wondering if the school really matters, so long as it’s in the Top 50 or so.

      Rejections stink and is annoying. But good fuel to prove them wrong too.

      1. He’ll be at the University of Washington College of Engineering. I’m proud of that (and happy that we’ll only have in-state tuition), but also a bit bummed for him, as UW doesn’t have a swim team- although he’s not a good enough swimmer for a scholarship, he likely would have made the team either at Cornell or Dartmouth.

        1. Cool. Congrats! And nice job saving money. Maybe you can try again and transfer after one or two years. Surprised UW doesn’t have a swim team.

          Man, seems really tough to get into college nowadays. Straight As as a minimum? Yikes. I wouldn’t get in anywhere.

          Did you submit his SAT score or no? What was it?

  12. Would you rather own a Louis Vuitton purse or a Coach purse? They both provide the same utility. Both have about the same lifetime. One cost 3k the other $300.

    The same is true for most colleges. There will always be a segment of the population who wants the Louis. The people who can’t afford it will get the Coach. Whether or not one is better is irrelevant. It’s the perception that people will continue to pay for.

  13. Nice post. Your comment on the SAT is spot on and explains why it shouldn’t be the only factor for admission decisions. Schools that do holistic admissions get it.

    Schools going Test optional is a big deal. U of a Chicago also went test optional. This is partly because of the pandemic. But they’ve also found that they can make good admission decisions without standardized test scores. I suspect the UC schools will discover the same thing.

    Another angle that’s starting to be discussed but not as much as it should is the rural vs suburban angle. Rural students are underrepresented at the university level. Is a university going to recruit at a school located in a town of 2,000 or are they going to visit a city of 500,000 and make a handful of stops over a week?

  14. You could also mention grade inflation at private schools versus public. Is this just my bias or do they really want to keep all those private paying students in their pipeline till graduation?

    1. No idea. Hard to measure as well given every school is different. Grades seem to matter less and less now. Experience and references and interviewing seem to be more important.

  15. Man, you nailed it.

    Despite population growth in the tens of millions in the past decades for the US, elite universities like Harvard have only expanded their undergraduate enrollments by a few hundred. We’re creating a caste system here. Despite other follies, California has really done well in creating upward mobility with its higher education system. I know plenty of people who went to Ivies for undergrad, and a lot of them were accepted as ‘student-athletes’ for things like rowing and sailing. What? Education is the vaccine against income inequality and we’ve got a chance to keep up the American dream.

    I was public school for high school and undergrad- and I consider a gift because it allows you to get an experience with a cross section of American society. I find a lot of my private-school educated peers to be less in touch with ordinary Americans.

  16. David @ Filled With Money

    I don’t get why parents bribe millions of dollars to schools just for their kids to get an education. It’s like… instead of giving away millions of dollars to a private school… Why not just give the kids the millions of dollars and make them go to public school?

    Public school graduate with multi millions will always be superior to private school graduates with no debt and zero net worth, in my opinion.

    1. Yes, I have often wondered about this question as well. Because personally, if I was given the option, I would happily attend public grade school through college and except a $1 million check from my parents, then go to private grade school through college with nothing but my education.

      In other words, think about how really really rich some household are to choose the latter decision.

      1. Yeah this is a really good point. I suppose one argument against is that a rich family may worry that by giving their kid $1M at a young age, they’ll squander it. Then again, a kid that would do that might also squander whatever education they get as well.

      2. I’ve got a couple friends who put a lot of stock in the degree they get and the school they go to. For a lot of folks I guess it’s a status symbol, the same as having a house that’s larger than they need or buying an RV. Some parents want to be able to tell all their friends that their kids went to their Alma Mater.

      3. David @ Filled With Money

        That’s true. At that point, maybe they’ll give their kids millions of dollars on top of giving the private school millions of dollars for their kids to get into!

  17. The Alchemist

    None of this will make a lick of difference if universities don’t put a stop to trendy woke practices like “decolonizing STEM”. Excellence will go completely out the window (along with the SAT’s) and parents will say “Forget it!” and send their kids to trade school.

    1. Actually, it’ll be great if kids who’d fail in colleges, go to trade schools. Not only would I not have to wait for weeks to get a plumber, intelligent people could get into universities. A win, win for all.

  18. Fascinating quote from Forbes and the changes to their college rankings. It wouldn’t surprise me if the other major ranking sources modify their results as well. The entire admissions system needs improvements and the examples you included on standardized testing explains a lot too.

    1. The examples from hypothetical standardized tests were just made up. These don’t exist. Bridle, starboard etc? Made up to fit a narrative of racism that doesn’t exist. Besides Asians score highest on standardized tests. Are you saying they dominate the boards? Are they big boating and horse people?

  19. Depends on the degree:

    a) Actual Classic Liberal Education? Only Two Schools remain that will actually educate you – Hillsdale College and Ralston College

    b) Liberal arts in critical race theory, cultural Marxism, black history, systematic racism, communism, and/or anti-American wokeism … then find the cheapest public school possible and hopefully the democrat welfare state will still be in place so they you don’t need to do actuee ask productive work but rather can burn down capitalism businesses at anti-American Antifa “peaceful protests”

    c) Engineering, Medicine, Law, MBA – pick the highest ranked feeder school for your industry that you can get into!

    For example, if you dream of being a democrat fascist lawyer that promotes racial division, hatred, and the welfare state while stealing tax payer dollars … then Berkeley Law is the school for you!

  20. David Waggoner

    “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

    The contacts you might make at:

    Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, …

    versus at

    U of New Mexico, U of Montana, U of Iowa, U of Alabama, …

    to me, will forever tip the scales to the exclusive private schools.

    PS. UC-Berkeley, William & Mary, are not run of the mill public schools.
    I think they belong in a separate basket. They don’t belong in the generic state college/university public school basket.

    IMHO. David

    1. Depends on where you live. If you live in state the contacts from the state flagship university are a massive benefit.

      1. Agree.

        And I could list a bunch of overpriced private schools nobody has ever heard of as well.

        That’s much worse!

    2. I’m surprised UVA was not on the Forbes list. Big, high quality state school.

      Who you know may help with first job. But I’d love to hear how alumni have helped you in your career.

      1. Alumni connections have helped me more later in my career because they became clients, and we refer each other to our clients, and we pass deals along to each other. Alumni invest in each other’s businesses or funds. I didn’t even attend the best school to which I was admitted because I took a scholarship, but I still recognize the value of peers. I don’t think we want to underestimated the importance of a peer group.

        I also think elite schools that were affected by the bribery scandal are going to use their resources to reestablish their legitimacy. I hope we see schools like Berkeley and UCLA rise and stay at the top as well, but the reality is, public schools mostly benefits in state residents. It’s not significantly more expensive to attend Yale than Berkeley as an out of state resident. I don’t love our state flagship public school, so my kids are most likely not going to stay in state, but we’ll see.

        We do support our local public schools! In particular, we have a community scholarship program for first generation college students that I love to support.

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