Are Ivy league universities worth it?

Are Ivy league universities worth it?

Do they have that much higher quality education than less famous universities? Does the reputation do justice to these uni’s education or the main reason they are famous is because of their history?

What makes their education high quality, what is high education in general? Do you make more money if you go to an Ivy League?


  1. Went to MIT, which isn’t a traditional Ivy, but close. Some of the comments are partially right that these schools get access to a much better candidate pools, so even the lower grade students are still pretty good (I was below average there, but got the highest grades in all my PhD classes at a lower ranking university).

    However, this is changing recently. When I got in, back in 2008, acceptance rate was about 16%. And the super bright students usually went to top schools. These days acceptance rates for MIT and other similar schools is about 4%. So many universities are filled with super bright kids (maybe you can distinguish the top 20% of an applicant pool, but after that you might as well setup a lottery to select the top 4%). So I expect the traditional top schools will slowly lose some of their shine, when companies realize that their great candidates are coming from all schools.

    The other note about quality of teaching is also partially true only. While these institutes will have generally smaller class sizes and easier to choose classes (at MIT I almost never had to worry about a class filling up or me not being able to get into one I wanted/needed), however the quality of teachers is not likely any better at any other school. And that’s because none of your actual professors are hired, evaluated, or compensated for teaching. They are hired, promoted, evaluated, and retained for their research. To most of them teaching is a nuisance. So they get it done/out of the way with minimal effort required not to bomb their evals.

    One last thing that isn’t mentioned is that the cutting edge research being done at top rank schools is actually a very good reason to attend them. I worked in labs for 3 out of my 4 undergrad years. And the amount of resources these labs have is immense. So a great part of my education, which is how to conduct research and plan/execute experiments would have not been the same at a much lower ranked university.

  2. Absolutely.

    However, it’s not for the education you will receive, but for the people you will be surrounded with. You want to surround yourself with the best possible peers that will constantly challenge the ways you think, and challenge the status quo.

    I will give you my story.

    I received a full scholarship to University of Delaware’s Honors Program to study Electrical Engineering. After my freshman year, I gave up my scholarship and transferred to Cornell. It ended up being one of the better decisions I ever made. Frankly, from an education curriculum perspective, professors from both schools are equally excellent, courseworks from UD were actually harder. The toughest (and best) math professor I ever had the pleasure of learning from was at UD.

    However, my peers at Cornell exposed me to things I never knew existed. As an engineer, I learned about finance, investment banking, management consulting, careers that I never knew even existed. My first year at Cornell, I went to a movie with a guy who ran one of the most popular movie review websites during his spare time, and I became friends with someone who built one of the earliest social networks for teens. Growing up from a conservative Chinese culture, needless to say, these peers changed my perspectives quite a bit.

    Like many things in life, it’s all about the people. And you always want to optimize to surround yourself with the best people.

  3. I paid full tuition for two sons to go to MIT( I realize MIT is not an Ivy league school but is a super-elite expensive school).. Their mother (a physician) refused to pay anything (her logic was they could go to many colleges for free). I don’t regret it at all. They took out a few loans. One has paid all off and one could just write the check. Mostly it was my money. They started 5-10 years ahead. My 22 year old makes $250,000 a year with incredible benefits….Was that worth it? Heck yes to him. It was a generational transfer of wealth. The other one is perhaps $20k behind. Sure I am $400,000 poorer. So what. I could stand the hit. They will remember my generosity forever and perhaps repay their children.

  4. I had to pay full tuition, without scholarship, for Cornell Med. I ended up way in debt, still am, but I know that the name of the school has been very helpful.

    I remember interviewing for a position, and being told that “well your resume said Cornell, so we decided to interview you first,” and ended up getting the job. Also, in subsequent positions, being introduced as “that Cornell guy.”

    I honestly do not believe that my education was necessarily better than if I had gone to one of the many lesser-known, non-Ivy League schools. I have met fantastic people in medicine from all around the world, and different schools here in the US. Just as with anything else, there are great people from relatively unknown programs, and terrible people from the top programs, and everything in between.

    These days, patients are impressed when they see my diplomas on the wall, but I don’t ever even think about it. So much is perception-if you think your provider is a great one, then in many cases, he/she is.

    So would I do things the same way again, and incur this massive debt for the name? For me, the answer is “yes.”

    I think that it’s given me many more opportunities that would otherwise not have been offered to me.

  5. Does attending an Ivy League school really matter?
    YES. But not for reasons you would think.

    I was talking to a friend a few days ago and she mentioned how there’s an instant respect one garners when they say they graduated from Stanford or an Ivy League school. There’s a certain caliber that automatically gets associated with pedigree; especially when it comes to careers and universities. We’ve often seen some of the most successful women and men in the world come from these premier institutes; naturally that’s because they were always a cut above the rest right? WRONG.

    Getting into a top school is to a very large extent purely based on dumb luck. There are tens of thousands of equally if not better qualified candidates who apply each year and don’t get in. But the lucky few who land those admits, their life changes in one very important way. The world around them starts seeing them differently.

    When I was a student in a small college by the highway in India, graduating with no job in hand and a seemingly impossible dream of studying in a foreign country that I could in no way afford, people had written me off as a nut job. Not a day passed by when my parents were not taunted for raising a failure. But one day, it all changed. People started believing in me. The world started telling me I was special, that I was cut from a different cloth and was better than those around me. Little did they know that I was a completely terrified kid who had bitten off more than he could chew, who cried himself to (lack of) sleep every night not knowing how he was ever going to make it through to the other end. Every day I knew I did not deserve this opportunity and that I was not good enough for it.

    One day however, when enough people told me enough times how I was special, I started believing them. It empowered me to let go of all the fear, the self-doubt, and, realize my full potential, to push my boundaries and learn and grow without inhibitions. Opportunities started making their way to me which any objective viewer would know I didn’t deserve if not for that one parameter. Life changed because the world around me afforded me the opportunities to change my life.

    Does attending a prestigious university really matter?

    YES. Because the world treats you differently, to a point where you start believing in yourself to do the things you never thought you could. And then you do, you do things that the world believes are reserved for the creme de la creme, because you believe.

  6. Did not go to an Ivy but definitely went to an “elite” institution for undergrad.

    One thing about all of these schools that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that they have absurd amounts of money per student compared to other schools, and that directly translates into resources: more paid research opportunities, more equipment access, and more faculty and staff per student which leads to a wider array of classes available.

    It’s not true that multivariable calculus at Harvard is the same as at Random State University. Harvard will almost certainly offer one calculus class that’s similar— but it will also offer a proof-based version, one focused on engineering applications, one that’s combined with a linear algebra curriculum, etc. At Harvard you aren’t guaranteed to graduate having learned any more than at another school, but you’ve certainly had many opportunities to. This is ESPECIALLY true for specialty upper-level classes.

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