Ivy Leagues Aren’t Worth All of the Hype


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One of the most prestigious universities in the world, Harvard University is one of the eight Ivy League colleges in the United States. It is ranked as the second best college in the United States.

Samantha Freeman, Staff Writer

There are over 5,000 universities in the United States, yet there are only eight colleges that are considered elite universities, otherwise known as Ivy Leagues. Many students across the nation favor these select universities over alternative, less-expensive colleges. But are Ivy Leagues really worth the hype? Not necessarily. 

The quality of education at these top schools is irrefutable, hence, their high rankings and appeal. In addition, there is this thing called the prestige factor that comes with attending an Ivy League. Listing Harvard, Yale, or Princeton, on your resume attaches an automatic notion of success that appeals to employers, possibly making it easier for Ivy League attendees to obtain a job post-graduation.  

But there are many other factors beyond reputation and education that are important to consider when selecting a college: location, major selection, cost, campus culture, size, etc. Out of the 5,000 universities and millions of students in the U.S., it seems unlikely that these Ivy League colleges would meet the criteria for every student. 

As any undergraduate who actually attends the school knows, the Harvard education is overrated

— Heffner

Between an Ivy League and a public school, Ivy Leagues typically cost more than double the tuition at roughly $283,885 for four years. Considering that the quality of education does not vary drastically between Ivy Leagues and other private or public schools, this price discrepancy is significant.

“As any undergraduate who actually attends the school knows, the Harvard education is overrated,” said Alexander Heffner in an article he wrote for the U.S. News. 

When looking at finances, one of the biggest components to consider is the rate of return (ROI). The ROI measures the amount of return there is on a specific investment, in this case college tuition. At public universities, the ROI is more than double that of Ivy Leagues and even other private colleges. 

From an economics perspective, an Ivy League is a poor investment because you’re not profiting in the long-run. In other words, Ivy League graduates are not actually making enough money post-college to counterbalance the cost of their education. In fact, many of these students are in more debt than other college students who attended a less-expensive university. 

In a study examining 30 schools, researchers Stacy Berg Dale and Alan B. Krueger found that students who got into selective universities but chose to attend less-selective colleges earned the same amount as students who attended selective schools. It was concluded that the selectivity of a college does not determine a student’s salary. 

While an Ivy League might be the right choice for one student, that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every student

While there is a large cost difference between an Ivy League school and a non-Ivy League school, there is not necessarily a wage difference for students at either school. This means that it takes students who attend elite universities longer to pay back their student debt.  

In addition, depending on the program some of these Ivy Leagues do not offer the same high level of instruction. For example, the engineering and computer science programs at UC Berkeley have higher rankings than some of those same programs at Ivy League colleges. It is unreasonable to spend a massive amount of money on an engineering degree at an Ivy League when you could receive the same degree in a higher-level program at a public university and for a cheaper price.

There are many other factors that go into the process of selecting a university. While an Ivy League might be the right choice for one student, that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every student. Despite the stigma around Ivy Leagues, it’s important that students choose a school that is going to be the most beneficial for them and their future.