If you've been following tech entrepreneurs on social media channels, you've probably seen many people sharing their stories about getting rejected from YC—the famed startup accelerator in Silicon Valley. A few others shared their success stories, and the vast majority of applicants remained silent as the decision letters were rolled out.
The sentiment is similar to when high school students receive their college admission decision letters, and with so much weighing on those decisions, they wait anxiously for them. People tend to think that the better university, or in this case, the better accelerator, is a predictor for the future success of the applicant.
However, while there is certainly a correlation between an applicants university or startup accelerator and their future success, there is no data to back the idea that it's causal. Logically, it's a lot more likely that many good students end up applying to Ivy League-type schools, but if they didn't, they're still good students that'll go on to be successful. The same holds true for startup incubators and accelerators: Many good entrepreneurs end up applying to YC-type centers, but if they didn't, they're still good entrepreneurs that'll go on to be successful.
The reverse is true as well, which is why you'll have more dropouts in lower-ranked universities and lower-ranked accelerators than more renowned ones. Ultimately, a YC rejection is not a predictor of your future success or failure, because YC success stories aren't entirely causal of YC.
Nevertheless, this isn't to say that there's no point in great universities or great accelerators. If you're accepted to YC or traditional schools like Harvard or Yale, and it makes sense for you to go, then great! Just remember that most successful people took their own paths, and it's not like every business tycoon out there has "YC Alum" in their LinkedIn headline.