From the NYT:
The key to success in college and beyond has more to do with what students do with their time during college than where they choose to attend. A long-term study of 6,335 college graduates published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that graduating from a college where entering students have higher SAT scores -- one marker of elite colleges -- didn't pay off in higher post-graduation income. Researchers found that students who applied to several elite schools but didn't attend them -- either because of rejection or by their own choice -- are more likely to earn high incomes later than students who actually attended elite schools.
In a summary of the findings, the bureau says that "evidently, students' motivation, ambition and desire to learn have a much stronger effect on their subsequent success than average academic ability of their classmates.”
In the spirit of the holidays, please, nobody tell Anne Applebaum. This news would do terrible things to her self-esteem.