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Pros and Cons of Ivy League Schools

Posted on Tuesday September 28, 2010 by Staff Writers

The Ivy League refers to eight elite, privately run universities in the Northeastern United States that have reputations for being the best in the country. Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and Yale are the schools that comprise this educational inner circle. But how do you know if attending an Ivy League school is right for you? There are several benefits and deterrents for students interested in and qualified to attend these universities.

These eight colleges have a stigma of excellence and competitiveness around them. Their reputations precede them and many people recognize their names immediately. This could mean great opportunities for graduates entering the career field, as the university name alone could garner a coveted interview. Aside from the name recognition, these top schools offer students a rich and vast alumni network to benefit from. Famous alumni include Ralph Nader, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael Chrichton, Al Gore, Barak Obama, C. Michael Armstrong, and many other highly influential businesspeople, politicians, authors, physicians and professionals.

Another obvious benefit earned from attending an Ivy League school is the guarantee of an excellent education. These institutions employ only the best and brightest professors, researchers and instructors in their respective fields. All eight of the universities consistently place in the top of the U.S. News & World Report’s college and university annual rankings. Also, their financial endowments rank in the top one percent of the world’s academic institutions. This indicates that these schools have the financial backing to support cutting edge research and world-class faculty.

While the benefits of attending an Ivy League school are numerous, there are also several deterrents. For instance, the prestigious reputations of these institutions have long been equated with social elitism. Authors and the media have commented on the exclusivity of these top educators for decades. Also, the cost of attending an Ivy League school can be highly prohibitive for many students. The average cost of attendance, which includes room, board, tuition, and university fees, is $50,000 per year. Considering many state universities cost less than a quarter of this amount, students should also consider this factor in their decision to attend an Ivy League school.

The highly selective nature of these schools can also be a deterrent for many students. On average, these eight universities accept between 10 and 15 percent of their applicants, of which 95 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.

Students should critically consider these pros and cons when deciding if an Ivy League school is right for them. Should they need more information, consulting with friends, family members, and university admissions counselors can provide helpful insight.