Today’s topic is a little controversial. I’m going to be blunt and straight-forward as is my style, and if you’re offended, feel free to email me and tell me why.
Ivy League schools are expensive. Colleges like Harvard and Stanford cost easily $40,000 a year in books, tuition, housing, incidentals.
You multiply that over four years and you’re looking at close to $200,000 just to go to college.
Compare that to a public school like the University of Michigan. A whole four years at U. Mich would probably cost you somewhere around $50,000.
That’s a $150,000 difference! You could easily buy a house with that money. You could buy three brand-new BMWs. My parents knew this when they sent me, trust me.
So why do thousands and thousands of high school students year after year sweat and devote their entire lives to get into Ivy League schools?
Even if Ivy League schools cost half a million dollars to go, they would still be more than worth the monetary cost to go.
Not only will those invested dollars provide a higher monetary return over time, they’ll also provide a higher personal return over time.
Here are the reasons why:
You have an incomparable network of people who will be incredibly successful. They’ll be your friends, your peers, and your colleagues from all over the world. Eventually they’ll be your business partners, your running mates, your doctors, and your lawyers.
Now imagine if you went to UC Santa Cruz.
How many friends do you think will be doctors? How many will be lawyers? How many do you think will be running Fortune 500 companies?
The answer is not many. The value of that network only increases exponentially over time.
The second benefit is job opportunities on campus.
Think about what the top companies in the world, business companies like GE, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Procter & Gamble.
Where do you think these companies get the vast majority of their new hires, their latest job candidates?
It’s certainly not from the University of Florida.
The best and most prestigious companies in the world the year after year want to recruit students from schools like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Yale, and Princeton and not from the University of Texas at Dallas.
These job opportunities not only offer higher salaries and better benefits and more prestige, but they open the doors to future career opportunities that otherwise would be out of reach.
To be completely honest, you can go to a school like Boston University and still end up working at GE or Procter & Gamble, but it’s much harder because the opportunities are far fewer.
Even if you do get a great opportunity most likely it won’t be the same type of job and you certainly won’t have the same selectivity about where you work and the types of responsibilities that you have.
Finally on the point of career opportunities it’s simply far more prestigious to have a school like Yale or Cornell on your resume than it is to have a school like the University of Washington.
When you apply for jobs one of the first things that recruiters and resume readers look for is your educational background.
It’s no surprise to anybody that if you have Harvard on your resume, companies will take your candidacy a lot more seriously and you’ll probably be getting jobs at higher salaries than someone who went to a state school.
Now let’s move on to the actual experience that you have at an Ivy League school.
First, your peers, your fellow students, are just much smarter. This means that you’ll learn a lot more from them such as personal interests as well as academic interests. You’ll find people who are the best chess players in the world, the smartest chemistry students, the most knowledgeable high school students about current affairs.
Not only will they inspire you to expand your personal and academic horizons, they will show you the bar which you need to meet and exceed in order to be successful in life.
Think about your average public high school. In high school I wasn’t very motivated to work hard in part because it was so easy.
Classes weren’t hard, students didn’t work hard, and I just didn’t feel motivated…but it’s completely different at Ivy League schools. You’ll be much more excited to learn just for learning’s sake, and realize what you have to do to succeed.
Now let’s talk about the quality of resources at Ivy League colleges.
They simply have much more money per student.
This means far better professors at your disposal. Not only will you get a world-class education from some of the top professors in their fields whether that’s physics or medieval history, whether that’s contemporary art or computer graphics, you’ll have people who excel at what they do, teaching you exactly what they know.
Beyond that the schools themselves, schools like Yale or Cornell simply have more resources to devote to their students.
This is great for you because it means you have a lot more support in the form of career advice, study advice, exploration of personal and academic interests.
There are a lot more resources for you to do research on topics you care about. At Stanford I was fortunate enough to get a few research grants to travel to and study all sorts of interesting issues in Europe and the Middle East.
Ivy League schools aren’t for everybody. Some people find them extremely stressful because depending on the school, you may have a very competitive environment.
I certainly didn’t feel that way at Stanford, but you do hear that some schools are competitive.
It also depends on your major. For instance if you’re a premed major you can expect there to be a lot more competition for the best grades. Everyone wants to go to medical schools like John Hopkins, UCSF, and Stanford Medical School so they’re all fighting to be the best.
Ivy League universities can sometimes be overwhelming if you don’t deal well with stress.
Ultimately, there is actually nothing wrong with striving for the best. Ivy League schools, at least for high school students, are the epitome of excellence. If you have the opportunity to go to one, I would highly recommended you do so.
If you are very unhappy – I knew some unhappy student at Stanford who ended up transferring to public schools. If you’re really unhappy you can always transfer.
But at least you gave it a shot.
Applying to top colleges? Learn how average students can get into Harvard.
Want to attend Ivy League schools? Check out my insider’s course and guide to getting into Harvard, even with a 1360 SAT from a public high school.