Sandy L. asks
Cost benefit of public vs private college. What is the value of the network, etc.
The question isn’t really about public vs. private. Berkeley is going to open a lot more doors and have a much more impressive network than the expensive small regional private liberal arts college one of my sisters-in-law went to. The question is really about the prestige of the school. There’s a lot of interesting new research on that topic. And the answer is that, first off, we don’t really know, and second off, it is nuanced.
In general, for your white upper-class/upper-middle-class kid, it doesn’t really matter where they go. Harvard, top flagship, regional state school– it just doesn’t matter.
For your lower income family, minority, etc. etc. etc. student, it can matter quite a bit.
But even with that mattering, some schools are better than others at elevating kids into higher socioeconomic status. And some schools (like Harvey Mudd) are phenomenal at elevating low SES kids, but don’t actually admit very many of them (that $72K/year sticker fee and all).
I’m too lazy to source and cite this, but if you’re interested in finding out more, flip through the NBER working papers abstracts for the education group. If you need to narrow your search window down, Carolyn Hoxby is a good place to start– she’s written extensively on this topic and cites a lot of the other work that has been and is being done.