Want to Know Which Ivy League School Is the Best Investment?


Source: HBS1908

While tens of thousands will apply to Ivy League institutions every year, only approximately 10% will have the opportunity to attend the school of their choice. 

For those lucky enough, despite the incredible odds, to be accepted to more than one institution -- or, perhaps, for those deciding which schools they should apply to -- I suggest we look at the problem from a very business-like perspective.

An article published by Forbes, suggested we, "Don't Buy The Hype, College Education is Not an Investment." To the article's credit, it stated that past earnings of those who earned a college degree (much like the stock market) doesn't guarantee future students will see similar results.

The article went on to say, "Employers do not reward workers just for passing enough classes to earn a degree." In many cases this is absolutely true, although, this argument is ignoring the importance of goodwill -- which is one of the chief similarities between today's top businesses and top universities.

Goodwill is accounting terminology for the acquisition of intangible (or hard to value) assets. Ivy League schools can attract the best students because they have some of the best teachers and most storied traditions -- and in the process build and maintain strong brand names. 

A brand name that will serve as an essential competitive advantage when competing in today's job market.  

Not to mention, in 2011, according to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average college graduate (between the ages of 25 and 34) earned $15,000 more per year than the average high school graduate.  

That's, however, for all college graduates -- and most colleges don't cost upwards of $200,000 like Ivy League schools. That begs the question, how good of an investment are Ivy League schools? Moreover, which school is the best investment of the bunch? 

To answer these questions, with the help of Payscale.com, each slide will have three statistics unique to the university.

At the bottom will be "30-year net ROI" which is the earnings differential -- or, the difference between graduates of the school in question and high school graduates -- subtracted by the "Weighted total cost" -- which is the total amount students in 2012 could expect to pay, and the second statistic on the slides. 

At the top of each slide is the "Annualized Net Return on Investment (ROI)" which can be described as earnings differential divided by weighted total cost annualized for a 30-year return on investment.  

The list can be found in the slideshow below.

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