Member Rara Avis
Christopher, your term "worth more" is so loaded with ambiguity and potential preconceptions it falls right up there with "when did you stop beating your wife." You don't really expect me to fall into that trap, do you?
Is an Ivy League education better than a less expensive one? Does an alumnus of Harvard or Yale command a higher salary than a graduate of Western Michigan University?
Essentially, both questions are related, and my answers will depend on whether you will accept generalities or demand specifics. Certainly, I believe that a non-Ivy League university offers immense opportunities to those willing to pursue them. If you point at two specific people, my answer will be we have to look at the individuals to determine who received the greater benefits. And I will grant that in many instances the non-Ivy Leaguer will prevail.
But, in general, I think you usually get what you pay for in life. If you buy a $40,000 college education you'll likely receive fewer benefits than the person spending $120,000. You'll get less extensive facilities, more mediocre instructors, and a VERY different academic atmosphere. The disparity in facilities has grown less pronounced over the past twenty years, and it's also less important today (because research is less constrained to physical paper). The disparity in the quality (and dedication) of the professors has grown in that same twenty years, and will continue to grow as academia loses more and more respect in society. The best inevitably gravitate towards the best. But I still think the biggest single difference in education is the atmosphere.
I occasionally teach seminars at WMU and the vast majority of people I see are there to get a degree, not an education. The greatest obstacle to their goal is Life, and the only competition they face is with the grading system. Contrast that with an elite university where virtually every single individual is in both direct and indirect competition with everyone else. If they don't excel, they simply won't be allowed to stay. You do NOT graduate from Harvard or Yale with a 2.0 grade average. But, more importantly, the indirect competition produces a sense of camaraderie and impetus to do even better. Many of the big businesses that offer those high salaries to Ivy League graduates are paying as much for the life-long "business network" built through camaraderie and a feeling of belonging as they are for the book knowledge. The best gravitate towards the best.
Does that mean a degree from WMU is useless? Of course not. Does that mean the least from Harvard is better educated than the best at WMU? Of course not. The person who is willing to apply themselves can earn a great education, regardless of the institution. And the person willing to extend their education beyond the institution, to a life-time commitment, will always prevail.
Not incidentally, Chris, the emphasis in my earlier post was more on "partying" and less on "Harvard." The average person cannot graduate from Harvard with a major in serious partying. They can from WMU. I know - because 25 years ago, I did it.