In 2002, a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics by economists Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger showed that for most students, the incremental value of attending an elite college was virtually nil. Instead, the paper showed that similar students– especially those with similar test scores– fared similarly in life regardless of where they attended college. Happy news for the majority of us who did not and will not attend elite schools.
A new paper shows a slight twist to this story: while individual characteristics may be more determinate for many students, particularly upper middle class white males, for others, especially women, minorities and students whose parents did not attend college, school choice can make a big difference. Here is a great article summarizing the findings.