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Ivy league, does it matter?

  1. Jun 15, 2011 #1
    So im in highschool here in canada, my grades are good enough to get me into any school and program in canada, I want to go into engineering or physics for my bachelors degree, my question is does it matter weather or not i get into an ivy league school? is it a big deal or not?

    Even though i got the grades and intellect im kinda paranoid @_@

    Will it make a big difference in the curriculum?

    What about future prospects? Will employers look me differently? (ill defiantly go into grad school eventually as well)

    (yes canada has its ivy league as well)

    P.s. i looked at the list of all the astronauts (yes ALL of them, list of astronauts from nasa, from 1960s to present day) and none of them were from any ivy league schools, which makes me feel a lot better, proof that you dont have to go into one of these super hyped fancy schmancy schools to reach for your dreams
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  3. Jun 15, 2011 #2


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    The Ivy League is an athletic conference in the U.S.

    Are you asking whether it matters whether one goes to a higher-ranked school or a lower-ranked school? Yes, of course it makes a difference. But as you said, it's certainly not necessarily a crippling difference if one goes to a lower-ranked school.
  4. Jun 15, 2011 #3
    theres a difference between a high ranked school and an ivy league school.

    cal tech is high ranked, but its certainly no harvard is it?

    i could give more examples
  5. Jun 15, 2011 #4
    Depends on the subject. CIT has the edge in math, science, etc. Even schools like Georgia Tech, Texas, Michigan, etc have the edge on Harvard when it comes to engineering. You can't judge a school on name alone. Look at the program and see if the college is the right fit for you.
  6. Jun 15, 2011 #5


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    Depends on how much one likes putting snow chains on one's tires (tip of the hat to RPF*).

    *Technically, Princeton vs. Cal Tech.
  7. Jun 15, 2011 #6
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  8. Jun 15, 2011 #7
    It isn't. In some areas (say planetary science), it's light years better.
  9. Jun 15, 2011 #8


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    One thing I'd like to add to what twofish said is that it's not great schools that makes someone great - it's great people who make schools great. If you give a crumby, unmotivated student an education and degree from MIT (not that he has a chance of graduating anyhow but let's assume he cheated his whole way through), he won't be successful in life. If you put a talented, motivated student in a 2nd tier university, he's still going to be successful.
  10. Jun 16, 2011 #9
    The original article linked on that page is very much worth reading.


    There was a paragraph that stood out to me:

    "If you are friendly toward Theory 2, on the other hand, you worry that the competition for slots in top-tier colleges is warping educational priorities. You see academic tulip mania: students and their parents are overvaluing a commodity for which there are cheap and plentiful substitutes."

    Tulip Mania could be renamed Ivy Mania in this case. This quote does not do justice to the whole article, but I liked the phrase. Humans like simple measurements in a complex world. Fixating on an Ivy League school (or equivalent) is a easy way to bypass having to make mature and difficult decisions about your future. You just let public opinion set your path...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  11. Jun 16, 2011 #10
    Don't know if this is true. People are too complicated to make general statements. For example, you could have someone that would thrive at a small liberal arts college but fall apart at MIT, or vice versa.

    One thing that I did learn at MIT is to be extremely cynical about the "cult of success." I'm seeing a lot of high school students go through the same sort of brainwashing that I went through, and it's really complicated to see what happens at the other end.

    Also, life is not fair. There are people that just get lucky or unlucky.

    Oddly enough, I feel more comfortable being a miserable failure.

    On the other hand, put that same person in a country that falls apart due to civil war, and they probably won't be, by any conventional definition of success. Had people made slightly different decisions in 2007, then we'd all be on the street selling apples.

    The other thing is that by the time I got into college I was throughly brainwashed by my parents and teachers going back to elementary school. What my college was probably made a lot less difference in my life than who my parents were and where I was born.

    I hate success.
  12. Jun 16, 2011 #11
    Yep. thats what i heard, a lot of people up here in canada are dying to get into some of these ivy league schools(U of T) but iv also heard horror stories about the environment, and a completely different(bad) culture and vibe, its not considered the best learning environment from what i can gather so far.
  13. Jun 16, 2011 #12
    With the ivy league schools (and any premiere, highest echelon schools) there is also the culture of power to consider. Rich, powerful people send their kids to these schools to meet and get to know (and often times marry) the children of other rich, power people. It is this social circle which will guarantee their continued success in the world, not simply the very good education they are receiving. This is what really sets the Harvards, Yales and Oxfords of the world apart from the other very good schools.

    The schools have a vested interest in maintaining this culture of power, also. Take a look at any of the Ivy leagues schools endowments - Harvard is upwards of $20 Billion and Yale is somewhere in near $10 Billion. That is a lot of money at their disposal to maintain their interests.
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