Ivy League schools, the most prestigious universities in America, are said to be the best of the best. They are for the elite, for the kids who are genius musicians, future entrepreneurs (or current ones), the ones with the rich parents… This is where those children whose after-school life was filled to the brim not with playdates but with more work, more activities, more extracurricular things than the laws of physics should really have allowed for.
High Powered Universities
The list of Ivy League schools is not a long one. It consists of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth. But despite their reputation for first class education and sending the best and brightest out into the world to make it a cleverer place, are they really all they’re cracked up to be? Or it is better to attend a ‘normal’ university? Does it make any difference at all as long as you end up with a useful degree?
For some, Ivy League schools represent a bygone era when an education meant you had money and money meant you got the big jobs that paid even more of it. Now, though, with (most of) the job world on a level playing field, the Ivy League schools just don’t really cut it. It might sound impressive to have attended one, but it doesn’t mean you can do the job that you are applying for – and today, when money is tighter than ever and jobs are scarcer, employers only want the people who know what they’re doing. And a piece of paper with a posh school’s name on it proves nothing.
A Better Education?
Whether or not the education received at an Ivy League school is any better (or worse) than other universities is not really the problem – as with any college, it depends a lot on the subject, the teacher, and the students themselves. If a bright, ambitious kid wants to learn, they will learn whether they’re at Harvard or a state funded school. And they will use that learning, and the degree they earn, to go out into the world and make a difference. But how many Ivy League graduates want to make that much difference?
The perception is that because the Ivy League has for so long been the province of the mightily wealthy, the people studying there are doing so simply to pass the time, or to prove to Daddy that they are capable of being part of the family business. Why would an employer hire someone who may or may not have worked hard for their degree? Who may or may not actually stay loyal? Who may or may not be as good as they claim to be? It would be better for an employer to bypass the Ivies altogether and go for someone who has struggled and strained to get where they are – it shows motivation and determination.
Graduating from an Ivy League School
Another problem with the Ivy League is that although the students within their fabled walls are told – from birth, probably – that they can do anything they want in this whole wide world, they don’t. They just don’t. Well, some of them do to be fair. But two-thirds of those graduating go on (assuming they get jobs at all) to careers in either finance or consulting. Out of the final third, most of them go back into academia, and many of them go on to teach at the school they just left. Another group go into medicine. It’s just not really a great return on the quite considerable investment that parents will have put into the university fees. They could have been anything. Done anything. And they have all – the majority at least – chosen banking? Is that really wise? Look what happened the last time we had a group of Ivy Leaguers running American finance…