In a recent study [doi.org], we investigated how many of the wealthiest and most influential people graduated college [phys.org]. We studied 11,745 U.S. leaders, including CEOs, federal judges, politicians, multi-millionaires and billionaires, business leaders and the most globally powerful men and women.
We found about 94 percent of these U.S. leaders attended college, and about 50 percent attended an elite school. Though almost everyone went to college, elite school attendance varied widely. For instance, only 20.6 percent of House members and 33.8 percent of 30-millionaires attended an elite school, but over 80 percent of Forbes' most powerful people [forbes.com] did. For whatever reason, about twice as many senators – 41 percent – as House members went to elite schools.
For comparison, based on census and college data, we estimate that only about 2 to 5 percent of all U.S. undergraduates went to one of the elite schools in our study. The people from our study attended elite schools at rates well above typical expectations.
Why waste $150,000 on an education you could get for $1.50 in late fees at the public library?