Hi PF, I've always been raised on the model that superior schools produce superior humans, and I should sacrifice the moment to get into the "best" possible schools. Personally, I still believe that those best schools could be highly influential career-wise. Stats don't lie, the majority of my professors come from the Ivies or the bigshot California schools. BUT if I'm not looking for academic success and a happy life of tenure... How much of a difference would there be in the amount/way I know Physics if I vary the caliber of the grad school I go to? Not including the variability of having a really great advisor who can give me a lot of insight...in your experience can the same student gain a significantly better understanding of physics if they go to a better school? As far as undergraduate education is concerned, I feel the answer is mostly no. If anything, the only reason I might have a better education from my "good" school is because my peers are fast enough to get it, so the teachers can go into harder material and I can have better discussions with peers. But my best teacher by far was also the lowest ranked of my teachers...its not the name brand professors who are really affecting my learning experience.