Robert Samuelson [op-ed, Oct. 27] drew some conclusions from a study of ours that are not necessarily supported by our analysis. As Mr. Samuelson reported, we do find that students who attend more selective colleges subsequently earn about the same, on average, as students of comparable ability who attend less-selective colleges. However, we do not find that college choice is unrelated to students' economic success.

For example, students who attend schools with higher net tuition rates or greater expenditures per student subsequently earn more money, other things being equal. And the gain from attending a higher-priced college is larger for children from less-advantaged families than for those from more advantaged families, suggesting that pursuing diversity on campus can raise national income.

Our finding that students from middle- and high-income families do about equally well in the job market whether they attend one of the most selective colleges or one in the next tier down does not necessarily "weaken the case for race-based admission preferences," as Mr. Samuelson argued. This finding also suggests that the cost of race-sensitive admissions policies is smaller for white students than previously believed.


Research Associate

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Professor of Economics and Public Affairs

Princeton University

Princeton, N.J.