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The Biggest Value of an Ivy League Education: Mom's Bragging Rights

contributors@theatlantic.com (Daniel Indiviglio)

With college acceptance season nearing, high school seniors won't be the only ones in agony waiting for acceptance packages from top schools: their parents will often be just as anxious. Economic historian and Bloomberg columnist Amity Shlaes argues that the biggest reward from a fat envelope from a prestigious private university like Harvard might not be a great career, but parents' opportunity to use a flashy university's name for cocktail party bragging. Having one's child get into a top school is just another form of "keeping up with the Joneses." Shlaes writes:

So why do parents go mad in March? One answer is love for their children. Another is the pathology of college narcissism. Parents want the rear-window decal on the car for themselves. They want it so bad they ignore inputs from scholars at the very universities they hold in such high esteem.

And Shlaes explains several reasons why these prestigious schools are overrated, including the enormous debt burden many students must incur to attend and earnings relying more on general learning aptitude than a university education.

Read the full article at Bloomberg.