(02-15-2017 09:26 PM)Kittonhead Wrote:
(02-15-2017 02:41 PM)Frank the Tank Wrote: For the bolded, the fact is (at least in the Chicago area) is that a very large number of people DO eschew degrees from solid local schools for out-of-state P5 schools. It's not just a token amount, either - it's enough to have the state of Illinois be the #1 net exporter of college students in the entire country! Our local school districts will absolutely send more kids to Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa and Missouri than they will to Illinois State and the non-flagship in-state universities this year. We see the same thing with New Jersey and California students. Forget about the University of Michigan - look at the number of out-of-state kids from Illinois and New Jersey at places like Indiana or the number of California kids that are inundating Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State instead of going to their non-flagship in-state public universities (or even eschewing their in-state flagship options). Maybe it's not their football programs specifically, but there IS something about being a "major brand name" school that can attract students in a way that others can't.
Frank what your describing is the way the kids from high income families see things. You for example were someone from a higher socioeconomic background with your father a professor. Names and prestige is everything in higher socioeconomic circles.
I once worked with a project manager who said that he went to Utah State. He then said proudly that Utah State has one of the most conservative political science departments in the country. His decision was based on perceived political environment than anything else.
Middle class kids who are not part of the well to do establishment view schools differently.
School with the biggest parties
Highest female to male ratio
High school friends
Too far from home
Too close to home
Offers my major
Perceived strength of the major
I just don't think athletics are too high on the list for the middle class kid who's parents watch the Super Bowl and World Series and that's it. Unless they grew up in a P5 college town so they understood what it means to have that.
I think a lot of people in this thread are taking a narrow view of who is "high income", though. I'm NOT talking about the one-percenters at the tip-top of the income scale. It's easy to dismiss that group as not caring about tuition prices and being outliers that can "afford" to be frivolous.
Instead, I'm talking about, say, the top 25% of income households. They might be "only" 25% of the US population overall, but they're making up the plurality or even a majority of the households that live in large swaths of suburbs in large metro areas, and they further make up an even larger proportion of those that attend college overall. They're the "mass affluent", if you will (or who most would characterize as "upper middle class"). This is a very large group (if not the single largest group) of college "consumers" and they DO have the ability to shape the higher education market overall. This group cares about price (as they can't just pull $60,000 in tuition per year out of thin air), but they do care about prestige, as well, and they'll balance the two heavily. I think people here are underestimating how large this group is when looking at them as a proportion of the college population overall. This isn't anecdotal - people in suburban NYC, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Dallas and other major metro areas pay out-of-state tuition for other schools at VERY high rates and these aren't the richest of the rich kids.
Once again, I'm not saying that sports is #1 on their list for a school. It's one factor of many. However, whether a school does have big-time sports or not certainly does have a material impact on the overall culture and atmosphere of a school and the group that I described certainly cares about that aspect.
It's no different than why cities want pro sports teams. Even though not everyone in a city might care about pro sports, the point is that's an indicator that you're in a "brand name city" when it has pro sports teams. (And once again, you can have the argument that it's wasteful to subsidize pro sports teams, and you might be right. However, mayors typically get rewarded when they attract new pro sports teams and they typically get punished when they lose them. Similarly, look at the heat applied to administrators at even low revenue schools like Idaho and UAB when they dared to drop football levels or even football entirely. People don't get fired for adding a football team, whether it's college or pro, but they certainly can get fired for losing one.)
This could apply to things outside of sports, too. For instance, I only go to the Lyric Opera of Chicago maybe once every year or two and it wouldn't be on my top 10 personal reasons why I like living in the Chicago area, but the mere fact that the Lyric Opera is here adds to the overall cultural landscape that makes the entire city attractive. Chicago would certainly survive without the opera, but it's one less differentiator in its total package of a cultural experience. Not every person can visit every museum, attraction, theater or sports team all of the time in their respective home cities, but that doesn't mean that any of those people would actually believe that their cities would be better off *without* them.
Once again, we can go back to the "correlation vs. causation" discussion and say that it's all just correlation... and I wouldn't disagree. However, big-time sports at a school does add to the TOTALITY of the experience at a college that is definitely different when it's not there. I can see it with the difference between Northwestern and University of Chicago grads that I work with every day. They basically go after the same types of students with the same types of grades and they're elite institutions that are only a few miles away from each other. Northwestern is hardly Michigan or Alabama in terms of a great sports campus, but you better believe that there's a huge difference in the school pride that Northwestern grads show compared to U of C grads and that translates into how much enthusiastically Northwestern alums help out their fellow alums compared to U of C alums. I think most Northwestern alums would say that being a Big Ten school was a net positive to their experience even if they weren't big sports fans (similar to Stanford, Duke, Vandy, etc.). It's a major differentiator for Northwestern in competing for top students against a place like U of C, Washington University in St. Louis and Ivy League schools.