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Are Ivy League Schools Worth It?

Ivy League Schools

Let’s talk about Ivy League schools. They are reputed to be the best of the best, recruiting top students from around the globe. It’s like membership to an exclusive club that everyone wants to join. Considering the expense, application process and pressure to be perfect, the question becomes: Are Ivy League schools worth it? The answer is “yes!” … and the answer is “no!” It all depends on your goals, finances and perspectives.

Ivy Group to Ivy League

We don’t want to bore you with the details, but the Ivy League actually as an athletic program in the mid-1930’s. Interest in college athletics was booming, and the eight oldest U.S. universities (called the Ivy Group) got together and created a league of their own, known as the Ivy League. Today it refers to more than athletics but encompasses the universities as a whole.

Positive Impacts of an Ivy League Education

Harvard, Princeton, Yale, UPenn, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia are the oldest of the universities in the United States (Cornell came along later). Here are some of the benefits that come with age:


They not only spend time and money to recruit the best students, but also to attract brilliant minds to teach. From research to finances and law, as a student, you have access to these intellectuals who can help expand your mind as well as the best tools and resources to learn.


If you want a high paying job, an Ivy League education can increase your salary, statistically. It depends on your focus and the career you want. An education from a top-tier school can give you a head start in more competitive fields. Some of the country’s largest corporations begin recruiting students long before graduation. Here are some interesting statistics

  • More than half of the 114 Supreme Court Justices attended an Ivy League school
  • All nine current Supreme Court Justices went to Harvard or Yale
  • More than one-third of the CEOs on CNN’s top 100 startups list went to Harvard
  • Top finance companies such as Goldman Saks, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley recruit from UPenn


Staying in touch with Ivy League graduates can impact your life and your career. Even before graduation, the strength of the alumni network can help you get internships at leading-edge companies and help you get the foot in the door at the world-renowned agencies and organizations. These networks are known for being strong and welcoming and taking care of their own.

The Ivy League Downside

When it comes to acceptance rates to Ivy League schools, they range between 5% (Harvard) and 10% (Dartmouth). Most of the incoming students have a 4.0 GPA, perfect test scores and exceptionally written essays. Once enrolled, there is incredible pressure to be the best, and competition for coveted internships is fierce.

In the end, while the Ivy League education on your resume can help you get the interview, it may not be enough to get you in the door. And, once you’re “in,” the school doesn’t matter. You move forward and up on your own merits.


The bill for a top school is often more than double or triple that of state universities. Unless you and your family can pay for it on your own, you’ll need to count on scholarships, grants and financial aid. If you rely primarily on loans, the student loan debt could be well over $100,000 by the time you’re done.

Unless you land a top-paying position right out of school (or even with the right job), you’ll be paying on these loans for years, possibly decades. It can affect all aspects of your life, from buying a home to getting a car and enjoying vacations.


Communication skills and character are key traits organizations look for when hiring new employees. Even with an Ivy League education, you will probably start with an entry-level position. You need to be able to work with a broad range of people, with diverse perspectives, skill sets and education levels.

Students at top-tier schools are surrounded by people with similar skills, viewpoints, attitudes and educational opportunities, making it a challenge to fit in with coworkers. If they can’t work well with diverse colleagues, it often prevents them from moving up the corporate ladder.

Bottom Line

Having an Ivy League education could give you a leg up in your career, it might get you the job of your dreams and will cost an arm and a leg without scholarships. State schools generally have less pressure, a more diverse population that more closely reflects life after school and is far less expensive.

Your goals, the career you choose, and your personality can help you determine which educational path is right for you.

Scholar Compass helps students and their families find scholarships, prepare for college entrance interviews and study abroad programs. Learn more or contact us today to get started, whether you’re going to college in-state or looking farther away.

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