Ivy League: Why Not


Linda Qiu, Staff Writer

It is definitely an honor to attend an Ivy League School, but many students – particularly those at AHS – are a little too obsessed with gaining acceptance into those eight schools.

The Ivy League consists of Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. The only thing that unifies the Ivy League schools is that over a hundred years ago, they joined an athletic league. While they are said to have excellent reputations as highly selective universities of academic excellence and enviable career opportunities for students, hundreds of other schools in the U.S. and abroad are just as excellent. 

All eight schools are located in the Northeastern United States, which means they are cold and quite miserable in terms of climate for the better part of the school year. Eminent universities such as Michigan, Minnesota, Berkeley, and UCLA have programs that are just as extensive as theirs. They’re also all extremely expensive, although they provide financial assistance solely based on financial need. With the exception of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, none of them provide “need blind” financial aid to students. None of them provides academic or athletic scholarships. Admission to these schools is also very difficult, with regular admissions rates ranging from 2.8% for Harvard to 8.8% for Cornell, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Furthermore, they’re somewhat unfair. Legacy students, whose relatives attended in the past, have an advantage, and wealthy families can literally “purchase” admission by making multi-million dollar donations to the school of their choice.

There are significant weaknesses in these eight schools. Their performing and fine arts are exceptionally weak for undergraduates, with the sole exception of Brown in theater. The technical education is arguably far more superior at schools such as MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, and CalTech. Two of the best undergraduate engineering programs in the US are at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Harvey Mudd University. 

Many people say it’s better to attend an Ivy League school “for the connections,” as many wealthy and well-connected people attend and work at Ivy League schools. But in reality, a student can find connections no matter where they attend. Furthermore, personal connections might aid in locating opportunities, but beyond that personal achievement is the only way to advance one’s career.

Ivy League schools seem to have evolved into a false “brand” that doesn’t suit the needs of many students. The best path for anyone is to apply to universities that will suit their needs, not on the basis of prestige. In ten years past graduation, no one will care where one went to undergraduate school- only what someone has achieved in the meantime.

Graphic courtesy of COLLEGE-KICKSTART.COM