The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business — attended by former president Donald Trump and his children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. — is showing that there might be a major disconnect between the working class and what corporate America makes. Nina Strohminger, professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics at Wharton, shared an eye-opening tweet on Wednesday that gave the results of a question posed to her students: What do they think the average American worker makes per year?
Are you ready for their answers? It seems shocking that “25% of them thought it was over six figures,” according to Strohminger’s tweet. What is particularly staggering is that “one of them thought it was $800k” for an average salary. The professor added, “Really not sure what to make of this (The real number is $45k).” There is a huge difference between making $45,000 per year and jumping into the $100,000 range or more — so how were so many of her students that off-base at one of the country’s most prestigious business schools?
— Nina Strohminger (@NinaStrohminger) January 20, 2022
Strohminger shared her thoughts on how this is a U.S-wide issue and not specific to Wharton, writing, “A lot of people want to conclude that this says something special about Wharton students — I’m not sure it does. People are notoriously bad at making this kind of estimate, thinking the gap between rich and poor is smaller than it is.” But we have to look at the top undergrad feeder schools to get into Wharton too, and we are all familiar with the names: University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Georgetown. And the median starting salary for a Wharton grad going into the tech industry is $140,000, per Poets & Quants, so you can see how their opinions are formed.
Twitter also had a few thoughts on this topic with one social media user talking about generational privilege that begins in high school (or earlier). “The path to Wharton is often private/prep school to good Ivy/Public Ivy and on to Wharton-if not a Wharton undergrad,” they wrote. Another chimed in, “The fact that *elite* B-School students are this mis-informed about their world is mind-boggling.” But the real question in all of this was summed up by one account asking, “What is the median income of the families of Wharton’s students?”
The answer, according to The New York Times, is $195,500. The fact that students of this type of privileged background seem more or less blind to the struggles of the American working class doesn’t bode well for who’s occupying powerful positions in our society (such as President of the United States). We hope that professors like Strohminger will make this more of a focus in the classroom of elite business schools going forward.
Before you go, click here to see the net worth of 15 mega-rich celebrity kids.