July 03, 2012, 10:14 AM — Is it worth all the effort - the gauntlet of AP classes, standardized tests, private lessons and community service hours -- to get your techie teen into a highly selective college? Yes, if they are an aspiring tech industry CEO.
We analyzed the educational backgrounds of the 50 highest paid and most powerful CEOs in the U.S. tech industry. What we found is that more than half of the executives who chose a U.S. university or college, chose a highly selective school. In particular, they attended schools that rank in the Top 50 on the U.S. News & World Report of best universities or colleges.
To get into any of these Top 50 schools requires the kind of extreme parenting advocated by Amy Chua, author of last year's best-seller "The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." Chua forbid her daughters from TV watching, play dates and sleepovers so they could become musical virtuosos and hone their math skills with extra practice problems. Her strategy worked: Her oldest daughter just finished her freshman year at Harvard and also was accepted to Yale University.
"They all attended very good schools, top tier schools,'' says Professor Jerry Luftman, managing director of the Global Institute for IT Management who holds doctorate in Information Systems from Stevens Institute of Technology. "What that tells you is that these people had something special before they went to college."
Eight of the 50 tech CEOs we researched attended university overseas.
But of the other 42 CEOs who attended college in the United States, 24 of them -- or 57% -- attended highly selective schools as undergraduates. Even more impressive is that 18 of the 42 - or 35% -- attended a college or university ranked in the Top 25 on the U.S. News & World Report rankings. These are the types of schools that accept less than a quarter of applicants and require stratospheric SAT scores, near-perfect GPAs and exemplar extracurriculars.
Tech CEOs are equally picky when it comes to graduate schools. Of the 27 tech CEOs with a master's degree, 15 - or 56% -- attended Top 25 national universities on the U.S. News & World Report list. Four of the seven CEOs with doctorate degrees or an extra post-graduate degree chose Top 25 schools, too.