I truly don't mean to be beligerant, but I've been reading these (often helpful) forums and I keep seeing people trying to wrangle their way into US Ivy League or Oxbridge, and asking people to placate their fears of inadequacy. I have some experience (a BSc) with elitist universities like these in Australia (yes, we have our own elitisms/rankings/snobbery) and must say it was a less than enjoyable 4 year stint, mainly because I was not like most of the other people who studied there. Doesn't anyone here want to go to a decent uni, get a good degree, and follow on to a happy career? Why is everyone chasing these brand-names uni's? It saddens me a bit to think that people are pursuing these goals simply because it's expected of them. In my experience, a first is a first and experience (voluntary or otherwise) counts for a lot more than most.