Welcome to the College Prep Confidential Podcast
April 4, 2022

The Hidden Reason We Choose Expensive Colleges

In this episode, we talk about the real reason, not the reason parents and students tell others, of why we choose expensive colleges. We also talk about each college having an intrinsic value based on this hidden reason, and how YOU can use it to...

In this episode, we talk about the real reason, not the reason parents and students tell others, of why we choose expensive colleges.

We also talk about each college having an intrinsic value based on this hidden reason, and how YOU can use it to your advantage.


Back in the saddle for Episode 40, entitled, the Hidden Reason We Choose Expensive Colleges.

Legendary Banking Magnate J.P. Morgan had a powerful quote: A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason. J. P. Morgan

Today, I want to dig deep into the real reason many parents and some students choose an expensive college. You may think it’s the name of the school, or the education programs, or even the reviews online. But we’re going to dig deeper. Like Always, let’s start at the beginning…

I’m a fan of roots. Not square roots, plant roots, or licorice roots. I’m talking about etymology, or the roots of words. When I look up the word college, it has a root of selected together, or partnership. Now, one of the most valuable skills you create in your life comes from partnerships. 

We talked earlier about modeling. Not snapping selfies on Instagram, but modeling experts. Part of the hidden benefit you get from college comes from the right partnerships. And if you partner with people at the top of their field, modeling helps you absorb those behaviors. You’ve heard the old saying, you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with most. When you increase the quality of the people you spend time with, their habits and behaviors rub off on you. You gain an immediate benefit from this partnership

Sure, expensive colleges may have great sports teams or academic programs, but that’s not the main reason why people choose them. So what is the hidden reason people flock to expensive colleges?

I’ll tell you the answer in a moment, but first, I want to share a story…

I’m at a party a few years back. And one of the moms is 3 glasses deep into a bottle of Rosay. As she gets more liquid courage, she starts talking about her son who recently got accepted to Princeton. She wanted to humble brag and take a victory lap. But when her friends asked her about the cost, the wine made her tell the real answer.

She took another sip of wine and said, “Yes, it costs money, but imagine the movers and shakers and opportunities Princeton offers you. It’s well worth the price tag.”

And with that comment, I have the answer, to what is the hidden reason people pony up the cash for expensive colleges. When you enroll in college, you instantly plug into a network. And each college has their own network. And each network has a value and assets assigned to it.

Assets include relationships, money, resources. This is why institutions like Yale and Harvard and Princeton can charge astronomical amounts of money with a straight face. The real value they give you comes from the network. These places are brand names, their name drips with prestige, and with the prestige comes networks. When I say networks, I’m talking about the cream of the crop for academics, sports, and especially jobs.

Why do you think so many Ivy Leaguers get prestigious jobs? Yes, companies look for that, but many times, it’s other Ivy leaguers doing the interviewing. Yale hires Yale, Harvard hires Harvard. We also find something called selection bias, which eliminates the random odds of picking somebody just as qualified from another school. Ivy Leagues have some of the best funding and they attract top level educators and students and they have excellent reputations in the public/private sectors.

University of Michigan posted their admissions stats for their medical school program. 3 of the 4 top admissions offers went to Ivy League Graduates. Harvard Business Review did a study and found fund managers invested more money and performed 7.8% better with companies where they had a connection through an education network.

And it gets better…when you graduate from these prestigious universities, you get an automatic plugin to their alumni network. This means you get your profile opened up to anybody, past, present, and future who went to this school. And, you’ll get invited to alumni events, which means your networking power goes up as well. The word alumni comes from an old Latin word, alere, which means, to nourish. Each alumni network helps you grow. And the power comes from sharing a school. Education builds bonds, and the dividends pay off with opportunities and networks.

Have you ever met somebody new and found out they graduated from the same school as you? It’s an automatic ice breaker and bonding tool. You get asked what year, what major, and then where you ended up working. Same schools bring you affinity with other alumni. This extends to the digital world too. On LinkedIN, my connection rate equals 100% for anybody who graduated from my high school OR my college. Having the same school as somebody else is like a rubber stamp for network building.

Now yes, we see exceptions for jobs and for entrepreneurs who may not go to prestigious schools. But what a head start you get if you get plugged into these networks. And other schools have high network value which aren’t Ivy League. The point is, each school comes with a network and a reputation. And the network value and reputation carries over even after you leave that school. 

By the way, this networking wisdom extends beyond college. It extends to social clubs, social networks, and jobs. The higher the value of your network, the more opportunities you have.

Some networks go up in value with more people, like Facebook or LinkedIn. We call this the network effect. Sometimes, being where a pile of people hang out gives you a huge advantage. We call this centrality. 

Plugging into these networks helps you get over the friendship bias. The friendship paradox states most people have fewer friends than their friends have, on average. As you get more friends and connections, you get connected to more networks, opening you up to more connections and friends.

Some networks may have high value for you, but low value for others. Maybe one school is the best for tennis players but weak on math programs. If you’re a tennis player, this network has high value for you. If you’re a math student, not so much.

We covered a lot in this episode. And I want to help you crush college prep. So I put together a list of expert resources for you. Resources like Test prep, financial aid, and personal coaching. Go to cpcshow.com. That's c-p-c-show.com. If you liked this episode, why don’t you subscribe to stay up to date on a treasure chest of college prep resources and tips? Also, if you enjoyed prior episodes, I’d love it if you gave us a rating on iTunes. Thank you for listening.