In this provocative essay Paul
Graham argues convincingly that it does not.

Graham runs an investment company that puts money behind startup firms. His company has a lot of experience, having done hundreds of them. Most of the entrepreneurs are college grads and Graham can’t find any evidence that people who graduated from prestige institutions are any better than those who didn’t.

Money quote: “So it’s not surprising that we’ve found the relative prestige of different colleges useless in judging individuals. There’s a lot of randomness in how colleges select people, and what they learn there depends much more on them than the college. Between these two sources of variation, the college someone went to doesn’t mean a lot. It is to some degree a predictor of ability, but so weak that we regard it as a source of error and try consciously to ignore it.”

He points out that there are kids at elite schools who coast through to their degrees without learning much and also kids who attend non-elite schools who take serious courses from dedicated professors and thereby improve themselves greatly.