Important notes for the lists in this section
All but one (biotech/pharma) of these lists include colleges attended only for those who received their undergraduate degrees at schools located in the United States; most of these companies and organizations have at least a few people who got their degrees overseas. Also, some of the companies have employees for whom I wasn’t able to discover where they did their undergraduate work; at the Washington Post, this was a very large number.
Unless otherwise noted, numbers in parentheses after a college name indicate the number who attended if more than one person went to that school.
If you’re interested in seeing where a specific college shows up on this website: click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right hand corner of any page to get a search box.
When the MC25 is mentioned, it refers to the 25 colleges most coveted on a large scale nationally that are mentioned in Part 2 of the presentation. They are: Amherst, Brown, CalTech, Columbia, Cornell, Darmouth, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Swarthmore, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, Williams and Yale. Yes, I realize people obsess over other schools, but in my opinion these are the few most obsessed over at a national level.
There’s a remarkable consistency to the percentage of students from MC25 schools on these lists. For all but three of the lists, the representation of MC25 students runs from 22% to 34%. The three exceptions all have smaller percentages of MC25 graduates and are the three professions in which a high degree of knowledge in computers and/or engineering are required. There are many large, excellent programs in these fields at state schools, military academies, and private, tech-oriented universities that attract quite a few strong students.
You will likely note that students from MC25 schools appear in higher percentages on most of these lists than would be predicted if we looked solely at the percentage of the total college graduate population they represent. They should! These colleges get first pick of the most ambitious, hard-working, smart high school students in the country, so we should expect they’d fill the most desirable professional positions at a higher rate.
Consider this analogy: What if the Washington Nationals were given the top 40 picks in the Major League Baseball draft every year? (Note: Yes, they are my favorite team. If you’d like to imagine this differently, please feel free.) And then another team got the next 40, and so on until all 30 teams had chosen the approximately 1200 players in each year’s draft. The expectation would be that the Nationals would win pretty much every World Series, have most of the Cy Young Award winners, MVPs, Gold Glove winners, etc. And the team that went last every year would never receive this kind of recognition. Right?
It is, of course, vastly more complicated with college admission, especially since most ballplayers have had four more years to mature, but it’s similar enough to be comparable. With a very large percentage of the country’s most capable, ambitious, hard-working high school students attending MC25 colleges, we should expect that a large percentage of jobs that require capable, ambitious, hard-working individuals will be filled by graduates of these institutions. (I wish there were a way to quantify this, but it doesn’t seem likely that it’s possible.)
So when looking at who’s working in very desirable professional positions, what we should focus on is the very large percentage that are not from the MC25 on every one of these lists. The logical conclusion: ambitious, hard-working, smart professionals who don’t end up attending an MC25 school for whatever reason (by choice or through not being selected for admission) will still have excellent career opportunities.