Answer by James Gunn, as found on Quora.

‘I write this from the perspective of a 45 year university professor and Dean. One dark secret, maybe or maybe not the darkest, is that nobody knows if the quality of instruction at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford is good, bad, or indifferent. No body measures quality of education. They DO measure the results—how well the graduates do.

So, if you are one of these universities and you have more money stashed away in endowments than God. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. More money stashed away than the GDP of some countries. That’s more like it. If you have all that money you can, and you do, buy the best prepared students available. You give them full scholarships if that’s what is necessary. You take in the best and you graduate the best.

Did they learn anything while at Harvard or Stanford? Who knows and who cares. Obviously if you take in the best you graduate the best. AND, these graduates now belong to an elitist exclusive club that nearly guarantees “success”. Previous graduates of your university now in management positions will hire you. Best yet, these universities can then use this as “proof” that they are the best.

The secret: These universities are not selling education, they are selling membership in an exclusive club.’

Answer written by James Gunn

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