physics at harvard is no different than physics at the local community college. An apple will fall to the earth at the same rate whether you are in CT or an inner city. True, there may be more skilled and knowledgable professors at a prestigious university, but we can simplify the situation by saying we are attending the same basic class, let it be Intro to classical physics, at both Harvard, or Yale, or Berkeley, etc.) and our small, quaint inner city community college. Let’s simplify the situation even further, so there are no discrepancies in my arguement. For the sake of my persuasion let’s say that both courses have been standarized by Professor X and they contain the exact same textbook, powerpoint slides, student tutors, etc. Therefore, our two classes are nearly identical and there are no significant differences that would lead you to a better education at one school versus the other. I think it is also safe to generalize this idea of ubiquity to the other hard sciences as well, whether it be chemistry, biology, neuroscience, engineering, etc. Science, especially as you work your way up to the harder, more objective science fields, cannot be taught so differently from university to university. I realize the degrees such as the humanities and the arts and business and economics and even the social sciences may allow a little bit more leeway in how they are approached and understood, but not enough to justify the dfference in tuition between the most and least expensive colleges. Now, if physics is physics no matter your environment (excluding a blackhole) and business management is business management no matter the name of your business school why are the costs of attending college so incredibly different? It’s because we, as students, and especially undergraduates, are not paying for an education, rather we are paying for a culture in which to be educated in. A professor or faculty member, a graduate student or even one of your fellow students are most likely to be the best and brightest if you attend a place like harvard or princeton. These people are only as valuable to you insofar as you take advantage of them, and they of you. These colleagues and mentors are really the main difference between schools. Associating with them, building relationships and networking in this environment is just as valuable and in many cases more valuable than the actual education you recieve. In this sense you are paying to be accepted into a group of intellectuals who can provide invaluable advice, opportunities and connections you would otherwise miss out on at a cheaper community college.