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Why rich people prefer elite schools when most others doesn’t see any wort in it?

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Replies to: Why rich people prefer elite schools when most others doesn’t see any wort in it?

  • websensationwebsensation 2133 replies40 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    There are many elite (in terms of qualifications) students who are denied by elite colleges, and there are many elite students who would have been admitted, had they applied to elite colleges. But generally speaking, the elite colleges are harder to get into because they are more sought after commodities.

    I also mulled over the question of our kid’s attending an elite college and paying $300k over 4 years vs. going to a fine Honors College for nearly free, and giving $300k plus additional gains to our kid upon graduation. Either choice would have been fine. It was our kid’s decision, ultimately. I kind of leaned towards going to Honors College, while my wife was adamant that our kid should be given an opportunity to attend the elite college. Ironically, I am less inclined to put elite schools upon pedestal because I myself went to one, whereas my wife went to a public college. But happy wife, happy life, right? Lol

    If you are talking about just learning only, you can teach yourself pretty much anything. I dare say I could have taught myself every academic knowledge I gained in college if I studied on my own intensively for two years, but that probably would not have gotten me to where I am now. I guess it’s more about the entire experience, financial means and fit, I guess.

    To me, it’s very important that the college you go to be very good across all departments, especially since our kid didn’t have a definite major. On that front, it was no contest between the two colleges in terms of depth and variety of courses.
    edited April 2019
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  • epiphanyepiphany 8405 replies170 threads Senior Member
    There is simple a much higher concentration of smart students at an elite college than at an average State U. This is primarily why an elite college is elite.

    THIS ^. And it becomes evident to an adult after visiting many of each.

    While flagship public universities enroll a high percentage of academically accomplished (and quite capable) students, elite private colleges and universities enroll rather high percentages of intellectually (and often artistically) gifted students. For those of us who have professional experience differentiating the two, this is not hard to recognize.
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  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1059 replies7 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    I take your point about "intellectually gifted" vs. "academically accomplished", @observer12 , but let's compare like-for-like between the freshman classes of Dartmouth and Michigan (based on the CDS of both). What's evident is that Dartmouth has higher (sometimes substantially) percentages in the top brackets, and Michigan's bottom end is below Dartmouth's. Although the absolute numbers of kids in all nonzero brackets will be greater at Michigan because Michigan is over 5x Dartmouth's size, walking around Dartmouth's campus you're statistically more likely to bump into a brainiac, and if you walk around Michigan long enough you'll bump into kids whose scores would have kept them out of Dartmouth. I'd suggest that the differing concentration of brainiacs accounts for a lot of variance in the popular perception of both schools.

    Michigan:

    SAT EBRW SAT Math
    700-800 54.5% 66.4%
    600-699 39.7% 24.7%
    500-599 5.5% 8.6%
    400-499 0.2% 0.4%
    300-399 0.0% 0.0%
    200-299 0.0% 0.0%
    Totals 100% 100%

    ACT Comp. ACT English ACT Math
    30-36 80.4% 83.0% 64.8%
    24-29 17.0% 13.9% 31.6%
    18-23 2.5% 2.8% 3.4%
    12-17 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
    6-11 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Below 6 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Totals 100% 100% 100%


    Dartmouth:

    SAT EBRW SAT Math
    700-800 77% 83%
    600-699 21% 15%
    500-599 2% 2%
    400-499 0% 0%
    300-399 0% 0%
    200-299 0% 0%
    Totals 100% 100%

    ACT Comp. ACT English ACT Math
    30-36 83% 88% 73%
    24-29 16% 11% 24%
    18-23 1% 1% 3%
    12-17 0% 0% 0%
    6-11 0% 0% 0%
    Below 6 0% 0% 0%
    Totals 100% 100% 100%

    http://obp.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/pubdata/cds/cds_2018-2019_umaa.pdf
    https://www.dartmouth.edu/~oir/pdfs/cds_2018-2019.pdf
    edited April 2019
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6939 replies172 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    And you’ll also more likely run into Tom Brady and the like. There’s a lot of talented athletes that help to make the college a whole lot more fun than some others.

    And everyone agrees that lower ses students and sometimes talented urms from underperforming schools in the home state get into umich. And good for them. I also wouldn’t classify them as academically inferior or worse to bump into before you know them, only by test scores. The whole test prep advantage etc. And simply just a lousy way to look at the world as far as I’m concerned. There is some educational value in difference. Wait to you get a job. You better learn how to get along with these dummies. They’ll be the ones doing your annual review. Or they are your PhD advisor or professor.

    And the concept that a school is better because there are more brainiacs haven’t set one foot in the cs or physics or math classes at the higher end public unis. If you did you would never say that again.

    Rich people think so called elite schools are better because of centuries of excellence embedded into the public consciousness. These schools are fantastic. And because most rich people went to college when the academic gulf was wider between these choices. And they can afford it with nary a concern.

    edited April 2019
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  • observer12observer12 319 replies0 threads Member
    edited April 2019
    University of Michigan -- 1,666 incoming freshmen with SAT Math scores of 780 or above or composite ACT scores of 34 and above.

    Dartmouth -- 292 incoming freshman with SAT Math scores of 790 or above or composite ACT scores of 35 and above.

    (Sorry, I can't give exact comparisons but these are the top 25% numbers for both scores).

    In other words, 800 or so incoming freshmen at Dartmouth benefit from being perceived to be among the "intellectually gifted", while 1,600 or so incoming freshmen at University of Michigan suffer from being perceived to be only "academically accomplished" despite having higher SAT/ACT scores than 70 or 75% of the students at Dartmouth! Why is that? Because "if you walk around Michigan long enough you'll bump into kids whose scores would have kept them out of Dartmouth."

    And that comment says a lot about why rich people prefer elite schools. They are just trying to give their child the best shot at being perceived as "intellectually gifted" instead of merely "academically accomplished" even if the majority of those students at that "elite college" wouldn't even rank among the top 25% of students at U. Michigan!

    Edit: I should add that using the CDS numbers isn't ideal. It would be useful to also have the median SAT/ACT scores in addition to the 25 - 75%. That might show that 50% of the students at an "elite" private university would not be among the top 25% at a top public university, and yet get the benefit of the perception that they are generally "intellectually gifted", while the top 25% at the public university start with the perception that they are merely "academically accomplished."
    edited April 2019
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  • CU123CU123 3742 replies77 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    "the vast majority of those students at "elite colleges" would rank among the top 25% of students at UM"


    First that is not correct (maybe the bottom 25% vs the top 25% at UM) and again we have the overweight of scores and GPA's (as is common on CC), granted it is so easy to compare numbers.
    edited April 2019
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  • scubadivescubadive 1091 replies3 threads Senior Member
    “While flagship public universities enroll a high percentage of academically accomplished (and quite capable) students, elite private colleges and universities enroll rather high percentages of intellectually (and often artistically) gifted students. For those of us who have professional experience differentiate.”

    I beg to differ that state universities don’t hold many intellectually gifted students. That is the most ridiculous notion. There are plenty of these students at these schools for financial reasons, the breadth of majors, the atmosphere and a host of other reasons like their research. Under 5% admit rates don’t equate to brilliance. Once upon a time Harvard had an admit rate greater than 90%.

    Now if you wanted to find the truly gifted we would approach college admissions using IQ tests but we don’t.
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  • observer12observer12 319 replies0 threads Member
    @CU123

    You are correct and I edited it to include that if we had information about median test scores, we would know more. But I think it is reasonable to guess that if the 25-75% is 720-790, that the median SAT Math score at Dartmouth likely falls below 780. The overall scores on the Verbal are higher at Dartmouth, but given that the top 25% at Michigan is 730 or higher, and the bottom 25% at Dartmouth is 700 or lower, that number would obviously be higher than the "bottom 25%". And given that 25% of the Dartmouth students have a composite score of 31 or below on the ACT and the top 25% at Michigan is 34 and higher, the "bottom 25%" estimate is wrong.

    But again, I think that your perception supports my point about why rich people prefer elite schools for their kids.
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  • CU123CU123 3742 replies77 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    Like @hanna says rich people sent their kids to elite colleges so they can be around there peers and they can easily afford it.

    and for the extremely wealthy or famous private elite universities are much more adept at handling the security requirements then large public universities.
    edited April 2019
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  • epiphanyepiphany 8405 replies170 threads Senior Member
    @scubadive distorted my statement. I did not say that:
    state universities don’t hold many intellectually gifted students.
    I said that the proportion of the intellectually gifted is evidently greater at private elite universities than the proportion at public flagships. Since I am trained to recognize one from the other and work in that field as well as in college admissions, I would know.
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  • epiphanyepiphany 8405 replies170 threads Senior Member
    Now if you wanted to find the truly gifted we would approach college admissions using IQ tests but we don’t.
    They don't need to use IQ tests. (Nor do I; there are other ways of determining intellectual giftedness, which is not measured by mere achievement.) One way of many to sift for it is by LOR. Teachers who are gifted, for example, recognize giftedness in students, and they will talk about it in those recs.
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  • epiphanyepiphany 8405 replies170 threads Senior Member
    Post 129: Standardized tests are not in themselves reliable measurements of intellectual giftedness.
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  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1059 replies7 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    (Sorry, I can't give exact comparisons but these are the top 25% numbers for both scores).
    Sure you can - exact comparisons by score tier are in my post (#126). I’ll say what I was saying differently: there are noticeably more kids percentagewise in the highest test score brackets at Dartmouth than at Michigan, and there are a not-insignificant number of kids at Michigan whose test scores would have kept them out of Dartmouth. The fact that there are more kids in absolute terms in the highest (and all other) score brackets at Michigan is because Michigan is 5.7x as large as Dartmouth.

    Put another way, the number of Michigan freshmen with SATs in the 600s or lower, or with a 29 ACT composite or below, is greater than the entire freshman class at Dartmouth, possibly substantially.

    So when you walk around campus, and meet lots of kids, on balance you’re going to think there are proportionately more really bright ones at Dartmouth if you judge by test scores (which is the basis of comparison you cited), even though you may meet more of them at Michigan in absolute terms.

    Now, I do believe there may be more extreme right-tail, off-the-charts-brilliant kids at Michigan (even percentagewise) than at Dartmouth, because the ones who would have preferred Dartmouth to Michigan chose HYPSM instead - but that’s another story. There are very few of those, and it’s hard to meet them in an environment of 25,000 undergraduates.
    edited April 2019
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2272 replies21 threads Senior Member
    There are brilliant people from both private and public schools, but I've been surprised by the number of not especially intellectually talented students I've come across at "elite" US universities. So I tend to agree with Niall Ferguson:

    "When I moved from teaching at Oxford to Harvard, I was puzzled. Based on my reading of midterm exam papers, a substantial proportion of my new students wouldn’t have got an interview at Oxford, never mind a place. It was explained to me that a substantial chunk of undergraduates were “legacies” — there because their parents were alumni, especially generous alumni — and another chunk were the beneficiaries of affirmative action or athletics programs."

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/03/18/americans-don-believe-meritocracy-they-believe-fake-ocracy/oIee0oxJBBEaKcFa0olkHN/story.html
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  • Data10Data10 3463 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    Although the absolute numbers of kids in all nonzero brackets will be greater at Michigan because Michigan is over 5x Dartmouth's size, walking around Dartmouth's campus you're statistically more likely to bump into a brainiac,
    They are just trying to give their child the best shot at being perceived as "intellectually gifted" instead of merely "academically accomplished" even if the majority of those students at that "elite college" wouldn't even rank among the top 25% of students at U. Michigan!
    It depends where on campus you are walking. For example, if you are walking around the engineering classes, then the ASEE reports Michigan Engineering has slightly higher test scores than Dartmouth Engineering, in spite of having 9x as many students.

    Michigan Engineering -- 25th ACT = 32, 75th ACT = 35; 1411 new engineering students in class
    Dartmouth Engineering -- 25th ACT = 31, 75th ACT = 35; 158 new engineering students in class

    That said, I don't think test scores are good way to estimate chances of bumping in to a "braniac", nor do I think test scores, chance of running in to a "braniac", or having best shot at being perceived as "intellectually gifted" instead of "academically accomplished" are the primary reasons why wealthy persons often prefer "elite schools," much more so than other income levels.

    Instead I expect it has more to do with environment and what types of colleges family, friends, GCs, and others attend, highly praise, and are well informed about. If you live in an environment where attending Dartmouth is highly praised and attending a public flagship is thought down on, then I'd expect you are more likely to favor the Dartmouth, even for engineering where Michigan has higher test scores, is more highly ranked, is probably more positively perceived by employers, and costs tens of thousands less (if wealthy). Wealthy students are more likely to grow up in such an environment. And if you live in an environment where attending Michigan is highly praised and few have heard of Dartmouth, then you are probably more likely to favor Michigan, even if planning to go in to a field where Dartmouth is stronger, likely to better assist in achieving career goals, spends more per student, has smaller classes, etc. Less wealthy students are more likely to grow up in such an environment, particularly if in state.

    I recently linked to the study at https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2013a_hoxby.pdf which analyzes a little more about differences between high and low income students in college applications and college perceptions.
    edited April 2019
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  • yucca10yucca10 1423 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Why are people always invoking Michigan in these comparisons? It's one of the top public school in the country and a very attractive choice for smart OOS students. Not all state flagships are like this. You can likely find talented students in all of them, but probably a significantly smaller percentage.
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