[ExI] elite college bribery scandal

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Tue Mar 19 22:59:36 UTC 2019

Quoting Dan Ust:

> I believe Caplan is saying the degree from a top school doesn’t  
> signal wealth and privilege. (Why would it? It’s obvious that some  
> people can buy their way into a top school, but showing off one’s  
> portfolio would easily display wealth and one can display privilege  
> by having a Park Avenue address.
> Instead, his claim is that it signals you’ll be a good worker —  
> better than the graduate of a lesser school (because it’s harder to  
> get into a top school) and better than the person who didn’t  
> graduate or didn’t go at all. And he thinks would be employers are  
> looking for smart and reliable workers — not just smart. If it were  
> the latter, then they could simply use IQ or even SAT scores as much  
> as degrees.

Well since I have not read Caplan's book and am largely going off of  
your description of it, I will accept your interpretation of what he  
meant by "signalling". However in biology, signalling generally means  
an expensive display meant to attract a mate like a peacock's tail or  
a ferrari so I apologize for the confusion.

That being said, why shouldn't employers hire people on the basis of  
test scores? Maybe not IQ or SAT but something germane to the  
employer's industry. Is it any less impressive that some person passed  
a state bar exam by studying on his own rather than by going to a  
fancy law school? Especially since earning a degree does not  
necessarily imply that any of the knowledge was retained beyond  

> I’m not sure about Bill W.’s point about using college as  
> networking. I’d like to see some data on that rather than the  
> homespun wisdom.

Here is some recent data:

"There are many fine colleges below the top Ivies and privates, and  
many of those are very hard to get into, but the graduates of the most  
selective colleges, like the Ivies and other top 20 colleges, do get  
considerably better-paying jobs. A very smart, hardworking student who  
gets into a college below the very top level of selectivity does not  
earn the same as one who gets into one of the most selective  
colleges," he said. "This explains, perhaps, why there is such an  
intense or frantic competition to get into those very top-ranked  
colleges. It has substantial implications for future earnings."

> Here if the networking thesis is true, I’d expect the guy who want  
> to Harvard but dropped after after his third year (didn’t get the  
> degree) to have almost as much of a network — to have met and forged  
> contacts with almost as many people as the graduate. Yet the  
> diploma-holder seems definitely to do better in the job market than  
> the guy who spent almost as time there but didn’t get the diploma.

Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk  
all dropped out of Ivy League schools and so could be considered  
evidence (albeit anecdotal rather than statistical) that getting  
accepted to and then dropping out of an Ivy League school is a better  
strategy than completing a degree at a public university.

Stuart LaForge

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