Go State U! Why pay a premium for a ‘polarizing’ degree?

By Joanne Jacobs

Borrow a bundle to go to a prestigious private college? Or go to your state’s flagship state university for slightly less status and a whole lot less debt? High-quality state schools are a good bet for many students, writes Nate Silver as college Decision Day approaches.

Public confidence in higher education has declined rapidly, and is likely to keep falling, he writes. “In 2015, 57 percent of Americans had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in higher education, according to Gallup polling. By summer 2023, that number had declined to just 36 percent.” Republicans are the most dubious about college degrees, but confidence is down among Independents and Democrats too.

That Ivy degree could be seen as “polarizing” rather than prestigious, he writes.

In a forthcoming book, Silver predicts that “tech and finance are going to become much less tolerant of what they see as bullshit coming out of academia.” Google, “despite probably being the most progressive or Silicon Valley company, nevertheless fired dozens of employees involved in pro-Palestine/anti-Israel protests that resemble those on university campuses,” he notes.

He imagines a hiring manager looking at resumes from a recent graduate of Columbia and a recent graduate of the University of the North Carolina. The Columbia graduate, the manager thinks, is “more likely to be coddled, more likely to hold strong political opinions that will distract from their work” and “more likely to have benefited from grade inflation and perhaps dubious admissions policies.”

Of course, “you could decrease the premium associated with a Harvard or Yale or Columbia degree by 30 percent and it would still be highly valuable,” Silver writes. But, on the margin, the UNC graduate may be more employable.

State universities are “one of the things that truly make America great — and often offer a more well-rounded experience and a comparable education at a lower price,” Silver concludes.

College students and professors are demanding “amnesty” for those arrested and suspended in anti-Israel protest, reports AP. “At issue is whether universities and law enforcement will clear the charges and withhold other consequences, or whether the suspensions and legal records will follow students into their adult lives.”

Anti-Israel protests are “tarnishing” Ivy League degrees, reports Charles Gasparino in the New York Post. Some corporate recruiters are broadening searches to less political schools.

Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, a Columbia University graduate, has added “schools like Yeshiva University, the University of Florida and Emory University” to the recruitment list, writes Gasparino.

“A lot of high-profile schools like the Ivies and places like MIT have been getting funding from Qatar and the Middle East and with that they have brought in professors who push DEI and teaching kids to view the world through oppressor and oppressed, which means Israel becomes the oppressor,” said Gary Goldstein, chief executive officer of the Whitney Group, a prominent executive search firm.

I’d imagine that Wall Street firms would be wary of hiring students who hate capitalism.


“Go State U! Why pay a premium for a ‘polarizing’ degree?” reprinted with permission by Joanne Jacobs