Are Ivy League Schools the Best Option for Undergrad Education?

In summary, the Ivy League is a group of prestigious colleges and universities in the northeastern United States known for their academic and social prestige. While they are generally very good schools, other universities outside the Ivy League are also comparable and it depends on the field of study. The Ivy League tends to be more selective, but also rarely kicks people out, while other schools may have more challenging curriculums. Some people see the Ivy League as a place for the rich, the genius, and good athletes, but there are also many scientists who have graduated or lectured there. Other universities, such as MIT and Cal Tech, have also emerged as prominent institutions in the modern era. For general studies, Ivy League schools are good for networking, but other
  • #1

N_Quire

How many schools are in the Ivy League? Are they as good academically as their reputation suggests or are they simply places where rich, influential people send their kids? Do any state universities or private universities outside the Ivy League compare favorably with them academically?
 
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  • #2
They are generally very good schools, but other universities are comparable. It depends what you are studying as well. Harvard might be considered a "better" school than Cal Tech, but if you are studying physics, Cal Tech is probably better.

They tend to be more selective than other elite schools, but they also rarely kick people out. Cal Tech, on the other hand, flunks out half the freshman class.

Njorl
 
  • #3
I'm not from the US and can't be seen as a good source of information on the subject but this is what I learnt:

Ivy League
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A group of colleges and universities in the northeastern United States that are widely regarded as high in academic and social prestige: Harvard (established 1636), Yale (1701), Pennsylvania (1740), Prineton (1746), Columbia (1754), Brown (1764), Dartmouth (1769), and Cornell (1865).


They surely are much more prestigious than others and I guess this prestige hasn't emerged out of thin air. A good student of these universities is very likely to become a top expert of her/his field. Career prospect is also much better for these students. Ivy League seems to be a place for the rich, the genius and good athletes. Many scientists have graduated or lectured in the Ivy League. Einstein, for example, lectured at Princeton for a long time. Rich students are possibly not the most intelligent group of their students. Anyway, they'll pay for those who deserve it but can't pay. As an aside, George W. Bush graduated in Harvard and Yale (bachelor's degree from Yale, MBA from Harvard Business School, according to whitehouse.gov governor's bio). This is the dark side of these money-driven institutions. I guess Harvard Business School may seem more like a golf club for big industry owners rather than a faculty.

Clearly enough many other universities/institues of technology that have been prominent in the new era aren't from Ivy League, the greatest example is MIT.
 
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  • #4
Cal Tech, on the other hand, flunks out half the freshman class.
Only 10%. :smile: And another 10% in the later years. Plus there are a lot of people who take long trips down the major ladder: something like 40% of the frosh start out in physics, then many switch to (for example) astronomy or applied math, then biology/chemistry, ending up in the catch-all major E&AS (enginnering and applied science).

For general studies, Ivy League places are good (especially for networking) but other schools like Berkeley and Stanford are just as good.

For undergraduate science, IMNSHO there is no place like MIT or Caltech. I have talked to plenty of people from Ivy League schools, and their curriculum is nowhere near as comprehensive or demanding.
 
  • #5
For undergraduate science, IMNSHO there is no place like MIT or Caltech. I have talked to plenty of people from Ivy League schools, and their curriculum is nowhere near as comprehensive or demanding.

i 2nd that. though i am a tad biased
go tech!

also, just so i can bash harvard. certain ivy schools have rampant grade inflation and 90% of people graduate 'with honors'. unlike a certain school down the road(MIT) where they have no such thing as honors (just graduating is an honor) and things like required freshman classes that flunk ~40% in the class.
 
  • #6
Sweet, are you a Techer, spacemanspiff?

And are you with Davidson's group at Madison by any chance?
 
  • #7
Usually, undergraduate-only institutions (esp. the prestigious liberal arts schools such as Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams, Haverford, etc.) often have an emphasis on teaching that is not found in any doctoral-granting institution. A good number of my fellow classmates who did their undergrad at one of those types of schools often received a very good education for the most part. I would be remiss in not also adding that there are some very good public undergrad-only institutions or schools where there is not a very large graduate program.

Most of the large public research-level universities have honors programs (or even entire colleges) which have small classes, abundant research opportunities, and the like. The advantage of this is often that you'll benefit from both the research facilities and the greater interest in undergrad education. This is not always the case, but usually the faculty you'll see teaching such honors courses are, on the whole, more interested in teaching undergraduates than would normally be the case for faculty at a large university.

Speaking as a grad student at an Ivy League school, I am not particularly awed at the quality of the undergraduates I teach. Yes, there are obviously a few who are switched on, but not nearly as many as the stereotype might otherwise lead you to think. The other thing is that the Ivy League tends to focus in more towards the traditional image of a liberal education. So if you're dead set on being a scientist or engineer, and are not particularly enthused about being compelled to read Aquinas or Rawls, you may not enjoy the experience at an Ivy as much as others.

My two cents.
 

1. What are the Ivy League Schools?

The Ivy League Schools are a group of eight prestigious universities in the northeastern United States. They are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.

2. How are Ivy League Schools different from other universities?

Ivy League Schools are known for their highly selective admissions processes, rigorous academic programs, and large endowments. They also have a long history of producing successful alumni in various fields, including business, politics, and the arts.

3. What are the requirements for admission to an Ivy League School?

Each Ivy League School has its own specific requirements for admission, but in general, applicants must have a strong academic record, high standardized test scores, and impressive extracurricular activities. They also typically look for well-rounded individuals with leadership potential.

4. Do Ivy League Schools offer financial aid?

Yes, Ivy League Schools are committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. This means that they will provide financial aid packages that cover the difference between the cost of attendance and what a family can afford to pay.

5. Are there any myths about Ivy League Schools?

Yes, there are several common myths about Ivy League Schools, such as the belief that they are only for wealthy students or that they guarantee success after graduation. In reality, these schools have a diverse student body and success after graduation is dependent on individual effort and opportunities. Additionally, Ivy League Schools are not the only path to success and there are many other excellent universities and colleges to consider.

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