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Ivy League Millionaires?

By Thomas J. Stanley on Sep 29th, 2011 in Studying the Wealthy

Shortly after The Millionaire Mind was published, I received an unusual request from the chairman of the “25th Class Reunion Committee” for an Ivy League school.  Allow me to paraphrase what he requested:

“With your permission we would like to survey our fellow graduates in order to contrast them with the millionaires profiled in The Millionaire Mind.  We plan on distributing the results at our 25th reunion.”

He must have assumed that all or at least a large majority of his graduating class were millionaires.  And why not?   His school consistently ranks as the top undergraduate college in America.  Also, I understand that the average SAT score for his graduating class was in the high 1400s [based on 1600].

However, the average for those millionaires profiled in The Millionaire Mind was significantly less, 1190.  I am of the opinion that SAT scores and IQ test results are highly correlated.  Thus, both supposedly measure analytic intellect.  It would be easy to speculate that those with superior intellect are superior at accumulating wealth.  But I have found that analytic intellect is nowhere near a perfect predictor of wealth.

As I recall, about 1 in 3 of the reunion class was a millionaire.  Their average net worth was approximately $800,000.  In fairness the proportion of millionaires in this reunion class was 8 to 10 times higher than the household population in general.  And about 4 to 5 times higher than those households headed by college graduates.  So in a statistical sense these Ivy League graduates were quite productive in accumulating wealth.  For each point on their average SAT score, they generated the equivalent of about $530 in net worth.  The millionaires in The Millionaire Mind had an net worth of $9.2M.  So for each point on their average SAT scores, they generated about $7,730 in net worth.

Yes you do have a greater chance of becoming a millionaire if you attend the top rated school in America.  But the majority of the most economically productive people in America did not attend an elite college of university.  Success is more about how you focus your mind upon opportunities and less about your absolute level of analytic intellect.

6 responses to “Ivy League Millionaires?”

  1. Bob R. says:

    I’d be interested to know the percentages of inherited wealth versus earned wealth. I would assume that a majority of the people in the ivy league schools, particularly in this 25 year reunion age range, came from families of means.

  2. Larry Evangelista says:

    interesting stuff.

  3. Mary says:

    @Bob – I was wondering if the students came from old money families too.

  4. Jon Merrill says:

    Thomas,
    I am a huge fan or your work. I have read and enjoyed each and every book of yours that I have read, and “The Millionaire Mind” is my favorite. I have a question about “Ivy League Millionaires”. Is the amount below the average household net worth excluding their home or average individual net worth?
    “As I recall, about 1 in 3 of the reunion class was a millionaire. Their average net worth was approximately $800,000. ”

    Bob R. -interesting assumptions that should be tested. Perhaps while at it one could compare women vs. men in this category vs. the general population, and EOC.

  5. Mike says:

    Great article, as always. I come from a family that values education so much, yet debt more than wealth, has been the only result.

  6. Oscar says:

    It is interesting how many of the most successful people had attended an Ivy League school at some point. For example, every U.S. president since Reagan attended an Ivy League school for either undergrad or grad school. And then when you look at the titans in finance (Buffett, Icahn, Paulson, Klarman, etc.), most of them have Ivy League degrees. And then when you look at the titans of tech (Zuckerberg, Meg Whitman, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos), there are tons of Ivy League graduates. The average Ivy Leaguer is not entirely focused on wealth, but my experience has been that the ones who do focus on it, do very well. And then when you look at the extremes in finance and tech, they do very well. Stanford is not Ivy League, but it’s of the same caliber, and if you include Stanford, then my point is only reinforced. The people running Amazon, Facebook, and Google went to top schools. Those are probably 3 of the most dominant tech companies on earth.

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