Not to single out the particular poster who's asked about the comparative 'prestige' of institutions, or of what it takes to get into these highly prestigious institutions, but this topic seems to come up (in one form or another) fairly often. Could we sticky a new thread in the Academic Forum that could serve as a reference to point posters to, or even as a "What does a prestigious undergrad / grad school mean?" Then again, the Princeton Review (and others) probably has something like this (so maybe it's better to focus on the grad school portion). Usually, the question is posed as what quality of education one receives at this versus a state school, versus a community college, versus online education (at a reputable institution), versus a diploma mill (no ranking / prestige is implied in this listing). We know that the quality of instruction (at least for undergrad) is definitely not uniform, and not necessarily better at research-intensive institutions. The "cutting edge" research will happen at a research-intensive school, but how often (and in what depth) does that get brought up in the undergrad curriculum? I'll posit that I see the gross misconception that an Ivy League education is a Golden Meal Ticket or 6/7 figure entry-level job, or even a ticket to a faculty position (and conversely, the implication that non-Ivy graduates are somehow not talented, not intelligent, or generally not worthy. But maybe that's just because I didn't attend one (note that I make no claims to talent, intelligence or worthiness). In the end, most accredited institutions will deliver a decent quality undergraduate education, and it'll be up to an individual's own talent, experiences, and their personal education (and yes, a little luck) to make their own way in life. Granted, it may be a little easier when your degree says Harvard or some such, but not having such a degree doesn't automatically disqualify you from graduate school, a particular position, etc. As for graduate school, the experience probably varies even more greatly, depending on research group, supervisor, area of specialization, and just what sort of project is being pursued. Just some thoughts! And no, I'm definitely not volunteering to write / compile the post / thread, especially since I'm probably not qualified to do so!