Ivy Leagues are Overrated

Quinn Kennedy

    Throughout March and April, many high school seniors and even some juniors eagerly check the mail for college acceptance letters. Some students await mail from large public universities while others hope to hear from smaller private colleges. However, the letters from Ivy League schools such as Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard as well as those from other prestigious universities like Stanford and Duke— to name a few— seem to carry the most weight. Despite recent admissions scandals that have plagued schools across the country, including some of these schools, plenty of students have still applied to prominent institutions in hopes of getting a quality education. However, with some of these schools ranking among the most expensive in the nation, are they even worth it?

    Though many proponents of Ivy Leagues and other similar schools praise their world class education, other colleges and universities offer quality learning at more affordable prices. For instance, there are many public state institutions that are ranked among the best research schools in the country such as Texas A&M University, UCLA, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, Stony Brook University, Rutgers University, and several more. Not only do these schools have very economical prices for in state students, but their out of state prices are also usually cheaper than most prestigious institutions. Likewise, there are many well-ranked private colleges and liberal arts schools for students looking for a smaller environment. Though most private institutions are pricier than public schools, many of them are still cheaper than Ivy Leagues. Additionally, all of these schools have a variety of acceptance rates, so those still looking for some competition can find it. This also means that the schools with more generous acceptance rates can provide a solid education to students who haven’t always earned perfect grades. Students represent the future workforce, so shouldn’t they all receive a decent education?

    Furthermore, society needs to let go of the notion that an Ivy diploma automatically guarantees success. Even though students at the bottom of their class at Ivy League schools still represent some of the smartest students in the nation, their low ranking still harms them. Studies have shown that they often compare themselves to their other highly intelligent peers, which causes them to feel inadequate. After graduation, these students also may have trouble in the job market. In a study of economists in their first six years of work, only the very top students from elite colleges actually succeeded in their fields. The bottom seventy-fifth percentile of students from these schools actually published less than the top percentile of students from lower ranking schools. Moreover, a Gallup-Purdue Index survey of 30,000 college graduates concluded that where students go to college does not determine their success. Though a degree from an Ivy League is pretty impressive, class ranking also plays a big role in the job market. This underscores that fact that the expensive investment in a prestigious education might not be worth it in the long run.

    Ultimately, you should still apply to colleges that feel right for you, no matter if they have glowing reputations or not. However, we should not let popular culture and elitism cloud our vision and make us believe that the only great schools are Ivy Leagues. They are not always a completely sound investment, as they are not a golden ticket to achieving greatness in every field. There are plenty of more affordable options that offer great education, so try not to overlook schools without a prestigious record.