Due to popular demand, we’re back to our discussion about the college selection process. This time, we’ll answer some common questions about the famed Ivy League colleges. What sets them apart, and do they offer any advantages over “non-Ivies?”
Q: How many Ivy League schools are there?
Answer: There are 8 schools in the Ivy League: Brown University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania (home to the famous Wharton School of Business), and Yale University. These schools were initially grouped together as the “Ivy League” collegiate athletic conference (NCAA Division I) in 1954. Since then, however, the name “Ivy” has become synonymous with academic excellence, a highly selective admissions process, and desirable career opportunities for graduates.
Q: What are the benefits of attending an Ivy League school?
Answer: Ivies offer some of the generous financial aid packages out there. Each meets 100% of students’ demonstrated need, and they practice a need-blind process of admissions, making an Ivy League education surprisingly accessible even for students across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Additionally, the Ivies are known for their top-notch research centers and facilities, and professors who have reached significance in their respective fields.
Finally, Ivy League schools have a high “name value” in the professional world; that is, graduates from these institutions may have an advantage in the hiring process simply because of the enviable reputation of their alma mater. Furthermore, the Ivies tend to attract recruiters for higher-level positions within various big-name companies, offering students intensive networking opportunities. As a result, a higher percentage of Ivy graduates enter employment immediately after graduation compared to graduates of other schools.
Q: What if my student doesn’t want to attend an Ivy League, or is not admitted? Can they still be successful?
Answer: Absolutely! An Ivy League education is not for everyone. The rigorous admissions process means that only a small percentage of students will have the option of attending an Ivy at all. Moreover, an Ivy may not be the best option for all students.
Take Shawna, who was accepted to Cornell and USC as a Journalism major. While she received grants and loans from Cornell, USC offered her a Trustee scholarship covering full tuition for four years. Moreover, USC’s journalism program is housed within the prestigious Annenberg School of Communications; graduating from this program carries its own “name value” that will offer Shawna an advantage when applying for jobs. For Shawna, who also wanted to remain within her home state of California, USC was the clear choice.
Ultimately, while an Ivy League education is an incredible opportunity, it is not the only opportunity. Students should consider a range of factors including the strength of their intended program at each school, family financial status and the financial aid packages offered, and their “make-or-breaks” (Click the picture below and see “Choosing a College (2): Create your College List!”).
Q: I committed to a college…now what?
Answer: Congratulations! But remember, signing that admissions agreement is not the end of the journey — it’s just the beginning. The next four years, collectively known as “undergraduate school” are an exciting time, filled with innumerable opportunities. In essence, it’s the stepping stone to the future. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your undergraduate experience.
- With more freedom comes more responsibility. College students have the freedom to create their own schedules, and have a much wider range of options to choose from. While it can be tempting to cruise through on the lowest setting, it’s important to remember that graduate schools and employers do not look favorably upon applicants who have done the bare minimum.
- Know your end goals. Whether that is graduate school or immediate entry into the workforce, you should structure your educational and extracurricular endeavors around these goals. Make use of your school’s career center and/or pre-professional advising programs. They often have excellent networking opportunities!
- Spend some time exploring to find something you’re passionate about. Studies have shown that 70% of students switch majors at least once in college, so it’s very common to leave college with a different major than the one with which you entered. Take electives, talk to your peers and professors about their experiences, try out extracurricular activities in different fields. Gradually, you should get an idea of what disciplines and subdisciplines appeal to you, and can adjust your major direction accordingly.
- Explore with purpose. Don’t waste time! By the end of your sophomore year in college, you should be starting to solidify your direction for the next two years.
- Grow your network, and grow yourself as an individual. College is a time to develop your professional skills — employers and graduate schools want to see that you’ve made the most of your undergraduate years by doing well academically, getting involved on and/or off campus, and cultivating the interpersonal and organizational skills that are critical for success in the workplace.
Our professionals at the Admission Masters have many years of experience working with students from a diverse range of backgrounds and interests. For more personalized advice on the college selection process, call us today!