Is an Ivy League Education Worth the Price Tag?

The benefits of Ivy League education are undoubted – better employment opportunities and easier access to high-profile jobs, networking benefits and the skills needed to start a new business successfully all rank among the biggest advantages. The number of people who question the necessity of getting Ivy League education, however, is on the rise.

Many studies have been carried out to determine whether going to a truly prestigious college is essential for professional success. Some of these came back inconclusive. The following article will shed light on some theories and findings that will probably answer the question.

Studies, Numbers and Quantitative Research

Before moving on to individual opinions, it’s interesting to take a look at different studies about the value of Ivy League education. In 1999, Rand, Cornell and Brigham Young University carried out an experiment, tracing the professional performance and career paths of Ivy League graduates and individuals that went to other schools.

According to the study, the Ivy League graduates earned 39 percent more than individuals that obtained a similar degree from a second-tier school.

Researchers also found out that although Ivy League education is more expensive, these universities invest much more in the education of each student than other schools. The results show that Ivy League universities invest 7.75 percent more in each student than the secondtier colleges.

A different study, however, produced the exact opposite findings of the previous two. Princeton professor Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale found out that there was no significant difference in the earnings of Ivy League graduates and those of individuals that went to a second-tier school. Their study was published some time ago and the experiment was performed once again in 2007. The results were similar to the ones presented in the original case study.

The Benefits of Ivy League Education

Many supporters of Ivy League education claim that the opportunities provided by such universities cannot be obtained in any other way.

Columbia Low School graduate and attorney Steve Menack is an avid supporter of Ivy League education. Menack was quoted by Investopedia as saying that Ivy League graduates enjoy much better networking opportunities than anybody else. Many graduates of such universities have excellent, well-paid jobs. If a fellow Ivy League graduate came to apply to a position within the same organization, this candidate will probably have a little bit of competitive advantage.

USA Today quoted Elena Bajic, the founder of an online executive employment website, as saying that individuals having an Ivy League school diploma will “grab” the attention of the employer before the interview itself. These schools are known for their traditions and emphasis on quality education. As a result, the degree is expected to give candidates valuable skills that will be essential for professional success.​

The Anti-Ivy League School Movement

Though many still believe that Ivy League education is an essential step on the road to professional success, others are certain that stability and growth can be achieved without serious education expenditure.

In 2013, Business Insider published the opinion of Malcolm Gladwell, an acclaimed author, who said that anyone interested in getting a quality science or math degree shouldn’t go to Harvard. The lower-tier students at Ivy League schools can easily get discouraged by the performance of the best students. The psychological factors and the intense competition will often stand in the way of students who would be considered bright in a second-tier university.

Jay Mathews has a similar theory. The Harvard graduate is the author of the book Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That is Best for You. According to Matthews, the Ivy League graduates are successful not because of the school but because of their personal characteristics. Ivy League universities are very selective when it comes to choosing students. These bright individuals are highly likely to succeed, even if they don’t get Ivy League education.

In 2012, CNBC published an interesting article about the life and the work of Ghurbaksh Chahal. Chahal dropped out of high school to start his online advertising agency. At the age of 18, he had already sold the company for 40 million dollars. According to Chahal, entrepreneurship is inherent and cannot be learned. He’s yet another bright, young professionals that doubt the importance of Ivy League education and its ability to guarantee success.​

Ivy League schools have a well-established reputation and serious traditions in the academic world. The price tag attached to such education, however, is significant. The selection of the right university depends on budget, major preferences and personal desires. It’s not necessary to go to an Ivy League school, in order to be a successful professional. There’s a sufficient number of real life examples proving the claim.

Kristy Feldman

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