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What is the appeal of "elite" schools?

mk252510mk252510 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
Other then bragging rights and what not whats the benefit? I used to have a list of 10 or so schools, most would've been considered "elite" or worse case "excellent", and now I'm not applying to any. Simply because it's just not worth the stress and money, when I can go to my state flagship with merit aid. So back to my question why do people want to spend 70k so badly for an education at one of these "elite" schools? The only reason I can see is the "network", but wouldn't graduating near top of your undergrad class with no debt result in a much better "network"?

This is a genuine question, I'm curious to why people want to go to these schools (top 50).
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Replies to: What is the appeal of "elite" schools?

  • PublisherPublisher 7775 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For internship & career opportunities.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The "network" probably refers to one or more of these things:

    1. Getting recruited by the most college-elitist employers (typical examples being management consulting and Wall Street), though some people believe that many kinds of employers are more college-elitist than they actually are.

    2. Because so many scions of wealth and "important people" (politicians, CEOs, other famous people) attend such schools (often based on development and legacy preferences in admissions), some believe that being able to have social contact with such people will be beneficial career-wise.
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  • mk252510mk252510 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    But can't anyone hustle there way into an internship? Also aren't most state schools well connected with business in the area which can result in very high powered internships as the years progress?
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  • PublisherPublisher 7775 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Depends upon your targeted career. Also, use of the word "hustle" doesn't reflect the proper attitude, in my opinion.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 371 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    Because there is social capital in elite universities. 30 years after graduating, and 25 years after I stopped practicing law, where I went to law school still impresses people and to some extent opens doors.
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1661 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It opens future doors.
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  • websensationwebsensation 2085 replies38 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For the same reason why people pay $250+ to play golf at Pelican Resort than $40 at a local course. I think any college that best serves your goal and meets your needs is elite. For me personally, I only think of around 7 to 10 colleges as elite overall, even though there are many non-elite colleges with elite departments. I also associate less than 5% admission rate for unhooked applicants with the word elite.
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  • PublisherPublisher 7775 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Defining "elite" is a subjective matter.

    In my opinion, there are at least 35 elite National Universities and an equal number of elite LACs.

    Schools such as Tufts & Georgia Tech and Boston College are clearly elite to me just as are Skidmore College, Mount Holyoke College, Kenyon College & Bucknell University, yet none are ranked higher than #25 by US News & none have an acceptance rate lower than lower than 12%. Williams College--probably the most elite LAC in the country--has a very generous acceptance rate especially so for ED applicants.

    In short, trying to define "elite" simply as any school accepting less than 5% of all applicants is a bit shortsighted in my view.
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  • jym626jym626 55359 replies2879 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Recommend you do a search on this topic here on this site. Its been discussed many, many times here with good discussions on both sides.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1274 replies35 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Let's not forget that the primary purpose to go to a college is education. The quality of college education aren't the same among all colleges. Even within the same college, different students will benefit differently. A student whose ability is in the tails (either left or right tail) of the distribution is in the wrong place. Segregation by abilities is a virtue, not a defect. Academic fit, not prestige, should be the primary objective.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For most people, there are some benefits going to a school with great recognition. It depends upon the school and the person, as a bad mismatch could wipe out any such benefit. I know many young people who burned and crashed from such schools and managed to do just fine going back to a different type school. But , yes, reputation and recognition has its perks.

    Usually, all things equal, a person will choose the school with the better name recognition or reputation. Unless there is something other schools offer that those schools do not have that the student wants, why not take that extra perk of a well known school?

    The question comes down to how much it’s worth to you. I know parents who’ll break the bank to pay for Harvard. How about Hartwick over local state SUNY? Is it worth the more than doubleprice? Is NYU tuition worth borrowing vs CUNY? That’s the crux of the question most of the time.

    There are times the difference in ratings and recognition doesn’t make the difference. Heck, I have two kids who turned down Ivy. They really did not like the school. My youngest wasn’t as keen on Notre Dame , a holy grail school in his cried, preferring a number of less venerable names and lower rankings. So it’s not an exact relationship between prestige and auto choose. But over all, those ratings, name recognition plays some role. It’s that something you get thrown in there extra— what’s worth to you?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Re: #6

    These are not necessarily unique to elite universities. For example:
    - the student body will be very smart and talented, top to bottom from all over the world,
    - in general, the student body is driven and has the work ethic to succeed. Typically, they comprise of 90% or more of the top 10% of HS students.

    For most high schools, almost any college will be an "upgrade" in terms of peer group academic ability and motivation compared to high school.
    - the faculty will many times be the “best in class” in their field,

    The PhD graduate pool in many subjects is so deep that even a relatively unknown regional university can pick top end faculty from it.
    - top colleges frequently have smaller classes conducive to better discussions and faculty that really know and engage with their students.

    Perhaps for LACs ("top" or not), but courses in popular majors like CS and economics may be quite large, even at "top" universities (e.g. Stanford CS 106A, Harvard CS 50) (of course, some LACs which try to hold the line on class size have to ration seats in popular courses, e.g. Swarthmore CS).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Publisher wrote: »
    In short, trying to define "elite" simply as any school accepting less than 5% of all applicants is a bit shortsighted in my view.

    However, many people define prestige or eliteness in terms of exclusivity and selectivity, so that type of definition is often what underlies the definition of elite.
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