Ask most Ivy League applicants why they have applied to these schools, and the answer will most likely be “well, because they’re the best!” But what does this actually mean - in what areas should Ivy League schools be considered “the best”? In this article we’ll look at why people go to Ivy Leagues, which should provide some helpful insight if you’re considering whether to apply to these institutions or not.
1. Financial aid
This might come as a surprise considering the high sticker price of every Ivy League school, when taking into account the total costs of room, board, and tuition. On average, the cost of attendance will be over sixty thousand dollars a year, but this should not deter you from applying. All of the Ivy League colleges have a need-based application, and the majority also guarantees meeting 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need. Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale all offer this guarantee.
In terms of a small case study, let’s compare the costs between an Ivy League school versus a similarly priced non-Ivy League one.
On the basis of a family earning $100,000 a year, with no other savings or student contributions available, here is the estimated financial aid one might receive and the total costs to the student.
- Total Annual Cost: $77, 091
- Estimated Financial Aid: $68,591
- Student/Parental Contribution: $5,000
- Student Term-Time Work: $3,500
- Total Cost to Student: $8,500
- Total Annual Cost: $77, 700
- Estimated Financial Aid: $57,400
- Student/Parental Contribution: $14,800
- Student Term-Time Work: $2,000
- Student Loan: $3,500
- Total Cost to Student: $20,300
As you can see, there is a vast difference between the amount of aid available between Harvard and Boston University, especially over the course of an entire undergraduate degree.
Not only this but Ivy League will meet 100% of financial needs for even international students, while even some high-ranked schools (Northwestern for example) specifically rule this out for international students.
For many people, college is first and foremost a place of learning and academia, with a degree at the end of it to demonstrate your intellectual prowess. However, at the Ivy League, it’s about so much more. Only the most able and most talented gain admission, so within your college accommodation, lecture halls, tutorials and extracurricular activities, you will be surrounded by gifted peers. You will be able to learn, connect and network with talented individuals that will go on to achieve many successes after college, and who might well prove to be influential and invaluable connections for you later on.
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3. Quality of teaching
It’s no secret that together with their high tuition fees and large endowments, Ivy League schools have a level of resource that other institutions could only imagine. This trickles down into the quality of facilities and teaching available at these colleges, that will be first rate and can stand head and shoulders above their competition. Most offer top-tier academic resources, such as state-of-the-art laboratories, specialized libraries, as well as smaller class sizes and one-on-one academic guidance. For example, Princeton has a 5:1 student-faculty ratio, while Texas A&M has that ratio placed at 20:1, and the US college with the most number of Nobel laureates associated with it (i.e. both teaching there and producing winners) is indeed an Ivy League school, Harvard, at 160.
4. Career prospects
There are half a dozen studies every year that compare average salaries from Ivy League schools in comparison to non-Ivy League ones, all saying different things. What is clear however is that the prestige of these schools and their name-recognition are invaluable, and while won’t guarantee you a job position, can create a more immediate level of distinction as set against other applicants. At the same time, the alumni networks of Ivy League colleges are extremely strong - they have been over many, many years, and probably always will be, and again creates an extended network of individuals in the professional world who might be able to give you the small advantage to find the right opportunity for you. In terms of black and white figures, the average starting salary for a student from the Ivy League schools is $75,000 for 2019, while the average starting salary from US colleges overall is $50,000.
As with most things in life, the value of what you put in to something creates the value of what you get from it. However, it is clear that admission into an Ivy League school will provide many benefits that are not so widely available from other schools. At the end of the day, however, it’s important not to forget that ultimately it is the student that makes the college, and not the other way around.