Opinion: Ivy Leagues Are Overrated

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

When students compile their list of dream schools, the Ivy Leagues always seem to be at the top. The reputation of these universities precedes them, as students hear about the Ivies since they are children. This reputation may give students a preconceived notion that the Ivy League universities are the only respectable or worthy schools.

Ivy League universities have the reputation of being the best educational institutions globally; however, they often overshadow highly ranked public colleges and higher-level learning institutions that offer a comparable education.

Acceptance Rates

The prestige of the Ivy League schools comes from their highly selective application process. The average acceptance rate of an Ivy League school lands around 7%. Admitted students are considered the “best of the best.” Students who are labelled as such spend their college career trying to live up to this standard.

Furthermore, the Ivy Leagues’ selectiveness may encourage students to believe that their success depends on their acceptance to one of these institutions.

The added prestige that comes with being accepted to an Ivy League school often leads these schools to dominate “dream school” lists among highly motivated students. However, public institutions with top tier education continue to be knocked down because they lack the label of being an Ivy League school.

Student Satisfaction

While Ivy League universities are highly stressful and very academic based, seven of the eight schools rank in the top 10 private universities for student satisfaction. Each of these universities ranges from 97% to 98% of student satisfaction. This statistic does not come as a surprise, as they are widely considered the best learning institutes in the world.

On the other hand, the top 10 public universities’ student satisfaction rate ranges from 85-97%.

Student satisfaction is a vital statistic to consider when choosing a school, so seeing the exceedingly high percentage that accompanies the Ivy League schools gives them another edge. However, to be above 75% of student satisfaction is a remarkable feat, showing that there are still public options that can — and should — be placed alongside the Ivy Leagues. Albeit slightly lower, the public colleges’ scores should not be overshadowed by the Ivies’ scores.

Financial Aid

Tuition is often a significant factor in students’ college choice. Taking out student loans can leave individuals in debt well into their middle-aged lives. Considering Ivy League universities are private, their tuition and fees were averaged at $56,425 a year as of 2019, while the average cost-per-year of out-of-state public education was $38,330. Both of these options can leave students hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, which leads to the importance of financial aid.

During the 2014-15 school year, the Ivy League schools averaged $40,654 per student in financial aid scholarships. While these scholarships help drastically, students still have to pay more than $16,000 per year, which forces them to take out student loans. Over the eight Ivy Leagues, approximately 30% of students had to take out student loans.

Unfortunately, a school’s price can deter a qualified student, but this does not mean these students are out of options. For example, four-year public college fees ranged from $2,340 (lowest income families) to $11,150 (highest income families). While the $5,000 more per-year for Ivy League institutions sounds minuscule, it does add up, particularly if the student takes out a loan.

Ultimately, Ivy League universities offer a competitive and notable academic experience. However, they are not the only choice for students who are looking for quality education. Ivy League schools continue to shadow other highly ranked higher-learning-institutes that continue to produce exceedingly successful graduates.

Through Teen Lenses: Did/Do you feel as though the Ivy league schools were/are the only school for you, or did/do you think there were/are non-ivy schools that would/will suit, if not exceed, your needs?

“I feel like, especially within my AP classes, I’m pushed a lot more to look at Ivy Leagues.  I feel like considering lesser schools is sort of looked down upon.  I’m sure I would be happier at a ‘non-ivy,’ but part of me wants to fulfill that standard.” Molly Wilcoxson, Junior at Henry Clay High School, Lexington, Kentucky
“At first glance, I thought that an Ivy was suited for me academically, because I felt like, in a lot of ways, Ivy’s are the same type of competitive environment that I had in high school. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that that’s not necessarily true, and a competitive environment isn’t necessarily what I need either. Once I realized that, I realized that non-Ivy schools were better for me not only academically, but financially as well.” Grace Payne, Freshman at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
“I thought that ‘non-Ivy’ schools would suit/exceed my needs, but there was a large emphasis that Ivy League schools would have a better outcome than any other school. A lot of the students who applied and got into those schools seemed to put themselves above others. As if their schools were levels and levels above others, but I think the reality is that the gap between Ivy League universities and other schools is smaller than portrayed.” Lily Guilfoil, Freshman at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

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