• Jon

Are Ivy League Schools Really Worth it?

With the latest scandal of finding out that celebrities and rich families were cheating and dropping large amounts of cash to get their children into Ivy League Colleges, I began to ask the question, “Are Ivy League schools really worth the trouble?”

Don’t get me wrong, Ivy League schools are obviously very well known, and being a student at one is very impressive, but how much of an advantage do you gain by going to one when you look at costs, salaries and stress?

Here are some factors I looked up to see what going to an Ivy League really entails

1. The cost

I think the first thing that comes to mind when I hear Ivy League school is EXPENSIVE. According to USNews, the top schools can cost anywhere from $45,000 up to $55,000. That is more than triple the cost of an In-State public school.

Now, one thing I found out is, if your family doesn’t make a large income (over $65,000 or in some cases $150,000), its very possible you could get a full ride if you get accepted. This is one thing state schools don’t really offer. But, if your family does make a higher income, even if your parents aren’t the ones paying for college, the free financial aid from the schools quickly slips away, and you are stuck with a very large bill.

2. Acceptance rate

The acceptance rates to get into these schools is between five and ten percent. That is literally five out of every hundred students that apply, get in. Talk about competitive. The total undergraduate enrollment can be from 4,300 students at Dartmouth, up to 14,300 at Cornell.

There is obviously a great sense of pride if you make it into such a competitive school, but the amount of stress from waiting for an acceptance or rejection letter from these schools seems pretty high, especially knowing that only five of every hundred makes it in.

3. Job Market Advantage

This is where I really wanted to pay attention. Say you get accepted and you can afford going to one of the top schools. When you graduate, how much better off are you? Adam Brownlee at Investopedia ran the numbers and the difference is not very big.

He compared projected salaries of students graduating from a public state school and an Ivy League school. The public-school average starting salary was $79,927, and the Ivy League starting salary was $85,676. That is a very minimal difference when you compare the costs of attending.He ran a bunch of more numbers using an accounting brain, and in the end, found the return on investment did not end up being in the favor of Ivy League schools.

When helping students pick colleges, one of my biggest factors is cost. A quick look at the numbers shows that Ivy League schools are typically more expensive. They do offer some great financial aid packages to the students with middle class family income which could make the school a lot more affordable. After looking at costs, I then go over the comfort level of attending a college with a student. Some students loving going to a large, in-city campus, while others enjoy the local college down the street. I want to make sure that a student is going to enjoy all four years at a school without feeling overwhelmed.

When it comes to Ivy League colleges, you are going to be in a very competitive environment. If you are one of the top students in your class, and you can handle the competition, then maybe you would feel completely comfortable in an Ivy League school. But if you are really stretching to get in, you’ll be in classes that are most likely more difficult, with students that are at a higher level than you. A good analogy I like to use is I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. Even though the Ivy Leagues are smaller schools, the size of the competition is much greater.

At the end of the day, the job you get is mostly going to depend on the type of person you are. If you are a hard-working person, with a passion and drive to do well, you are mostly likely to succeed at getting a job no matter which school you go to. Make sure that wherever you go, you really enjoy that school, and you can graduate with less stress and more knowledge and experience.

What type of colleges are you looking at? Is an Ivy League College at the top of your list?
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