Forbes "30 under 30" is an annual celebration of the United States' most incandescent twenty-somethings. An amazing group—inventors, artists, moguls, dreamers. Doers of the new generation.
It's no surprise to find graduates of the world's most prestigious and competitive colleges within the ranks of Forbes' "30 under 30". (Forbes names 30 honorees under 30 years of age in 15 different industry categories, which really means it should be called "450 under 30," but that's a detail.) No surprise to find recent graduates of Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Princeton, Princeton.
No surprise because Forbes tells you so.
But Forbes doesn't say where all, or even most, of its "30 under 30" stars went to college. So we wondered: What's up with that? What would we find if we hunted down the college affiliation of every name on the "30 under 30" list?
We figured we might not find Forbes' "30 under 30" honorees in "Music" or "Sports" or "Hollywood" to be all-Ivy. But what about "Tech"? Or "Social Entrepreurship"? Or "Finance"? We'd taken a long, hard look at Forbes' "30 under 30” roster. We felt pretty certain that Forbes' "30 under 30” honor roll was largely comprised of elite college graduates.
Well, we dug. We searched for the names of every college attended by every Forbes "30 under 30" honoree.
Forbes "30 under 30": Guess what we found?
We found that appearances can be deceiving. We found that Forbes tells of one "30 under 30" honoree's experience as an undergraduate at Duke, but doesn't mention Arizona State University undergraduate degrees carried by three of its young stars. (Fun fact: Arizona State, which accepts 89% of its applicants, has more "30 under 30" alumni than The University of Chicago, which boasts an acceptance rate below 9%. Arizona State beats Duke on this score, too. And it beats Dartmouth. And Cornell. And Johns Hopkins. And...you get the idea.)
We found that most Forbes "30 under 30" honorees attended, well, ordinary colleges—in some cases, obscure places, in other cases, state schools like the University of Where-They-Just-So-Happened-To-Live-At-The-Time. We found graduates of these institutions in every Forbes "30 under 30" category.
We found that "ordinary" does not mean "mediocre." These places can have world-beating strengths. (Here's what Parisa Tabriz, of the "tech" category, says about the University of Illinois.) They can offer academic and social cultures with a "just-right" fit to bring out your best. (Here's what Isaac Kinde, of the "science and health" category, says about the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.) So let's not call them "ordinary." Let's call them "normal." Because if you're a conscientious student with good grades, you're in. Which sounds pretty normal to us.
Perhaps you've heard that more than half the members of the U.S. Senate attended state universities. Or that more than 80% of the CEOs of the world’s biggest companies didn’t graduate from Ivy League colleges. Perhaps you've wondered whether those statistics applied only to your parents’ generation. Whether some new normal put anonymous elite college admissions bureaucrats in charge of your destiny.
Forbes "30 under 30." Deconstructed.
Wonder no more: Our crawl through the educational resumes of these Forbes "30 under 30" superstars tells us that nothing much has changed. Sure, Forbes' "30 under 30" list is peppered with alumni of places that drive high school seniors to frenzy—places like Stanford (admit rate: 5.7%) and Harvard (admit rate: 6%). But we found these elite college alumni standing, shoulder-to-shoulder, with grads from dozens of colleges that admit more than half of their applicants. Sometimes a lot more.
We've scoured the bios of each of the Forbes winners and identified the least selective colleges represented in each one of their 15 “30 under 30" career categories. In every category, we found colleges that admitted more than half of their applicants. That’s why we call our list Recap’s “15 over 50%": Because we've highlighted 15 alma maters of Forbes "30 under 30" honorees that accept more than 50% of their applicants.
Take a look and you tell us: Does a prestigious college make you successful in life? Or do you do that for yourself?
To put it another way: Is your life really over if you don’t get into Yale?
60second Recap's 15 over 50%