Ivy League degrees always carry prestige and impressiveness, and those that hold them are often thought of as having superior intelligence. But after thinking critically about the kinds of students that get accepted to these schools, it is my opinion that they aren't geniuses and they may not even be all that intelligent - just privileged.
To be accepted to an Ivy League school, perhaps the most important qualifications one must have are excellent grades and standardized test scores. Those things are much easier to achieve if your family has money. If you're struggling in public school, your parents can afford to transfer you to private school, where classes are smaller and you're able to receive more attention. Or, let's say you don't up and switch schools, but your parents hire a private tutor to aid you in the areas you struggle with, which would also help your grades improve. If you're living in a town or city with families similar to your own (upper middle or upper class), then you likely have access to a great public school. Great public schools don't have teacher performance and retention issues, overenrolled classes, lackluster guidance departments, and so on. Great public schools are more likely to churn out Ivy League/top tier college acceptances for those and other reasons.
Every student who takes the SAT or ACT feels anxiety about such tests, as so much weight is placed on them and their partial determination in where a student is offered admission. Arguably though, more privileged students feel a lesser amount of anxiety because they have been better prepped through attending good schools, and having the ability to pay for specialized private tutors. Sure, independent studying plays a part in readiness, but I suppose that those additional resources helps tremendously in improving one's score.
Aside from grades and SAT scores, the Ivy League schools like applicants with extraordinary talents and accomplishments. Many of these may serve as more demonstrations of class privilege. For example, an accomplished pianist who has been playing since a very young age is a class privilege beneficiary because his/her parents have likely invested in lessons, instructional materials, and a piano for the home. Those things aren't cheap, and they require not only a money investment, but a time investment.
Going off on the time tangent, competitive Ivy League applicants typically have much involvement and leadership in extracurricular activities. They devote many after school hours to various clubs and organizations, and many times, they have this ability because they don’t have to work. Their parents provide them with the discretionary money they need for clothing, outings with friends, and so forth. This is the opposite of students who are less privileged and have work obligations that prevent them from being as involved.
Another factor that can give a student a leg up in admissions is being a legacy applicant. And of course, if your parents are Ivy League alumni, it’s fairly likely that your family doesn’t live paycheck to paycheck while struggling to make ends meet. Plus, having college educated parents who are familiar with admissions and aid processes is another privilege for students of the higher social classes, while those with less moneyed backgrounds are often left to figure everything out on their own.
And finally, it goes without saying that academic performance doesn’t necessarily have to do with one’s intelligence. The institutionalized education process tends to place much weight on memorizing information, regurgitating it for an exam, and forgetting it soon after. Mastering that process does not take intelligence, just diligence and effort.
So…are Ivy League students and alumni really as genius and unique as society suggests they are?
This reads like a flawed 8th-grade research report. Your reasoning is both superficial and incomplete. Clear gaps in your logic. The Ivy League is a brand name, genius is a vague and unreliable description, and unique is a relative term.
102190: It's too bad you have so little experience with how Yale and others scour non-traditional sources (urban, rural, international, Questbridge) for top applicants. Your generalizations are rather broad and blunt. Certainly income level is directly correlated with academic performance. No one questions that. But you seem to be fixated on some notion that Yale et al. are satisfied with that outcome. That's simply not been my experience in almost 3 decades of personal interaction w/Yale.
SAT/ACT prep? I never worried one lick. Took them each in one sitting. Frankly, I never even sweated college applications. I was just doing my thing. And such is the case with kids I interview today who are the top candidates for admission. Unless you've seen these kids who seem to float in the clouds, you won't understand. They're the types who don't even need a school like Yale. Their trajectories in life are pretty evident regardless of the college they will attend. I've met some of these kids. They're amazing. And not due to their family income level per se. Couple of years ago, we lost an applicant to Pomona ED -- single mom household, moderate income household. The dude was phenomenal -- my area admissions officer was very disappointed we never got a chance to offer him admission. About 6 yrs ago, 2 people from my nearby urban school district -- cloud floaters. No doubt. Low income households.
Are Ivy grads geniuses overall? Again, your blunt wording. Certainly they exist. But mostly, we're fortunate. As for unique, numerically we are-- no doubt. So are alums of William and Mary or Harvey Mudd. What's the point?
@poster 3, again, it's unfortunate that your experience has been such. From a kid who attended an inner city HS, whose parents were restaurant workers, I found Yale to be incredibly welcoming. Were there snobs? I'm sure they existed but certainly not a "good deal". Again, too bad for you.
Also 102190, the "prestige" and "impressiveness" thing you start with: without sounding too arrogant let me say this: it's mostly outsiders who fixate on it.
Those of us with degrees from very select universities don't really give a flip. We don't care about USNWR. Whether a co-worker has a degree from Cornell or Amherst or Yale or University of Arizona, we tend not to be overly impressed or feel overly superior. The day we stepped into New Haven, we were thrust into an environment where whatever our HS achievements, we were extremely mediocre given the excellence of the student body around us. Humbling is par for the course. I've found that many of us took that same attitude into the working world after as well. And we've all experienced that the "prestige" thing is an empty suit. Been there, done that. An Ivy-esque degree is no magic bullet to health, long lasting marriage, satisfying parenthood, financial guarantees. Do you think we don't wash our clothes, walk our pets, feed our kids, change lightbulbs, nurture our elderly parents just like the rest of the unwashed masses?
There are plenty of people who are well-off, go to fancy schools, have lots of exam prep, support for ECs, and still don't get into highly selective schools. Kids who get into selective schools often have all that AND they're intelligent and talented at what they do.
There's no question that it's tougher for kids who don't have those advantages, which is why the top colleges make special efforts to identify kids like that. Check out the financial aid program at Harvard and Yale, for example.
Our family is what you would probably lower middle class. My kids both went to public schools. Everything they achieved was earned through hard work and dedication to learning so I don't consider myself or them snobs. Again, you obviously don't attend there so you are not qualified to ascertain the attitudes of the students. Your post sounds like "sour grapes" so perhaps you were rejected from the school and feel you need to spout falsehoods about the students that do attend.
Well aren't we showing off today? My oh my. My immigrant father worked 60-hour work weeks as a cook at a Chinese restaurant for forty years. My mom, who didn't speak English, learned enough to work every evening as a waitress. I worked as a dishwasher. I attended a magnet HS in a large urban school district -- which now has the nation's lowest HS graduation rate. I don't think I ever met much less knew an Ivy league student/alum before I met my interviewer for Yale. I was a fin aid recipient, working every semester and summer while there. Afterward, I worked in NFPs and now work for a federal agency. I interview and recruit for Yale because as of how admirable I found it to be. Too bad you'll never get to taste something so sweet.
Well, I correct myself. It's not too bad. I hope you never get to take a step on Yale's campus. But I won't waste any more electrons on the moronic musings of a HS student. Case closed.
I'd say, yes, in general, applying to, being accepted, and attending college is easier and less stressful for a student who comes from a monied family than one who does not. Having money does allow an advantage to getting accepted to college. This would not only apply to Ivies, but to most, if not all, colleges. Colleges with large endowments, such as Yale, can at least spend time, effort, and money, trying to catch the low income kiddos especially by setting up low FinAid threshholds and trying to admit kids with low incomes who did not have these advantages.
The flip side would be that there are plenty of kids from monied families who do NOT get accepted to Ivies and there are some low income/middle class kids that DO get accepted to Ivies.
At Harvard, in 2009, 82% of entering students qualified for financial aid, so it is unlikely that they are ALL snobby rich:
Costs (2011 - 12):
•Tuition and Fees: $39,851
•Room and Board: $12,801
•Other Expenses: $2,348
•Total Cost: $56,000
Harvard Financial Aid (2009 - 10):
•Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 82%
•Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid •Grants: 69%
•Average Amount of Aid •Grants: $35,541
And, yes, it is a bummer that it's more difficult to get into places without the extra advantages of money. At least nowdays, people without money have a chance. Back in the 1960s-70s, students did not get accepted to H/Y on stats and ECs, it was mainly based on money, family, and connections. Now, at least, stats and ECs count for something...in fact, that's how many people get accepted these days...are these the people that you are calling "genius"?
There's certainly a crowd at Yale et. al who may fit your description somewhat (although I also agree that your opinions are overgeneralized and most likely influenced by inaccurate stereotypes). However, this does not pertain to the majority of the student population (at least from my personal experiences at Princeton). Most of the people I have met are not snobbish in any way, and I haven't met too many people who aren't on financial aid. In addition, this "snobbish crowd" also exists in other colleges outside of the Ivy League (USC is one that comes to mind).
Lastly, to your point that rich kids can get into the ivy league easier: my college counselor told me that the admissions officers assess whether or not you took advantage of the opportunities you have in life. Having a job or not being able to afford a private school education are taken into account. Furthermore, I believe that the Ivy League (Princeton at least) is need blind when they review applications, so your argument is rather unfounded, in my opinion.
102910 might be a troll, but let’s pretend that these really are his opinions.
Harvard, Yale and Princeton all have fantastic financial aid policies to the point where they are cheaper than most state schools for all but those coming from very high income families. The other Ivies all meet need, although often to a lesser extent than HYP.
I went to Princeton, and went to a public school in a smaller, blue-collar city (50,000 people). Of my six suite-mates, one came from a wealthy town and had a wealthy father. His public high school was pretty strong. One came from a Catholic school, but he wasn’t well off at all – in fact, he came from a family with six kids, and after the parents divorced, the father disappeared. The kids had no idea where their father was. Regarding another roommate, I never met his father in four years of college, even though his father lived only an hour away. His parents were also divorced and he came from a tough town in New Jersey. Another roommate’s father was deceased, and he came from a country town of 5,000. Another came from a lower middle class family in a worn-out mill town. Of the seven of us, four were on financial aid. None of us had been tutored or moved into elegant private schools – my friend’s Catholic school was a gritty, old-style disciplinarian Catholic school. Our group didn’t quite fit your stereotype, and there were plenty of other students who didn’t. Some did come from quite affluent families, but that number wasn’t over 25%, and those kids were still superachievers.
Ivy schools aren’t loaded with legacies. The number is more in the range of 10% or 12%, and numerous children of wealthy alumni are turned down.
I'll add a Princeton tale, but it certainly expands to the rest of the Ivy League as well. In the book, Getting In, the author follows the Dean of Admissions for a day. At one point, the Dean reaches into a stack of folders (this is about 1997, when they still had folders), and pulled out an applicant at random. The kid was a valedictorian and a class president – a pretty typical applicant, the book said. As the Dean read through the application, he hit on something that made him really like the kid. He was a farm boy, and had had to work at least 20 hours a week through the school year on the farm, and 60 hours a week in the summer (and for those of you who don’t know farmers, that’s the way farm kids live). The Dean said, “That’s the kind of kid we want.” The Ivy schools looks for kids who come from different backgrounds and who achieve at the highest level that they can, considering their circumstances.
Are their arrogant people in the Ivy League? Sure. I also know arrogant kids who go to community colleges. I know adults who are lazy and seem to go years without working who find ways to be arrogant, bragging about how little work they do, how they manage to get money without working, how good a basketball player their 14-year-old is or about how the NFL team they follow is way better than the one you follow.
Last edited by AncientTiger; 10-02-2012 at 11:30 PM.
IdontGIVEaShiz: I just reported you to the moderator. Your screen name and your many negative, nasty posts are an indication that your posts should be deleted and you should be kicked off this board.
Your posts frequently are one-liners such as this:
“@(name redacted) are you (name redacted), the stupid pothead that lives in valley park??
I can’t believe you were foolish enough to actually use someone’s full name.
Play with some other toy beyond your iphone. And watch out - you could get yourself sued for some of these comments, such as naming a kid and calling him a pothead on a public forum. Even if your identity is confidential, the site can find out who you are. If there’s a legal complaint against you for a behavior issue, after you’ve been dragged through the slime and the mud, the college that you think will joyously take you will probably be notified, and they just might decide they can find someone else for your slot.
I dont: I see that the moderator has removed your pothead comment (the one that actually gave a person's name) after I complained about it, but your other posts remain. Please try to be helpful, rather than abrasive on these forums.