right arrow
Informational Message Stay on top of the information you need to navigate the admissions process amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We've got articles, videos and forum discussions that provide answers to all of your test prep, admissions and college search questions.   Visit our COVID-19 resource page.

Introducing Kai!
Your College Confidential guide bot.


Kai can provide tips and support as you research and apply to colleges, and explore majors and careers.





Chat with Kai
here, 24/7!


or Skip Forever

Finding the right college for your unique situation can be challenging. Hear from other students who shared their admissions story. Download our FREE Student Voices - vol. 1, Student Voices - vol. 2, and Student Voices - vol. 3 eBooks NOW!
PARENTS4PARENTS: AfroPuffMom is the mother of two boys, a college junior and a high school junior. She has extensive experience reviewing applications for high-achieving, first-generation students. ASK HER ANYTHING!
Make sure to check out our September Checklist for HS Seniors. Consult these quick resources to get you started on the process this month.

Culture at Ivy League Colleges

LZHopeLZHope 68 replies17 threads Junior Member
edited August 10 in College Confidential Cafe
Hi,

I'm only an undergraduate, but I was wondering what people's experiences are at Ivy League colleges. How does the culture and geography of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale differ?
edited August 10
69 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
· Reply · Share
«134

Replies to: Culture at Ivy League Colleges

  • LZHopeLZHope 68 replies17 threads Junior Member
    edited August 5
    I know that Harvard has the largest endowment of any university in the world, and has the greatest name recognition.

    There is nothing wrong with saying that "Ivy League schools are highly prestigious, and constitute some of the best in the world"

    But I have a problem with someone saying something entirely subjective such as "Harvard is the best" or "Princeton/Yale are not as prestigious"

    Prestige cannot be ranked among the Big Three, can it?

    I have read that, actually, Princeton was ranked #1 by U.S. News and World Report for a number of years (though ranking is relatively arbitrary)

    According to Boston Magazine, "For the ninth year in a row, Princeton has been dubbed the best college in the nation by the magazine, which highlights its 'profound and distinctive commitment to undergraduate education' a focus on 'cross-disciplinary learning' and 'groundbreaking financial aid program.'”

    I'm not trying to inflame anyone, I'm just offering my discussion.
    edited August 5
    · Reply · Share
  • NascarFedexNascarFedex 83 replies0 threads Junior Member
    The only comment I can make is that Princeton would give you more money in financial aid than Harvard or Yale.
    · Reply · Share
  • NascarFedexNascarFedex 83 replies0 threads Junior Member
    And I am speaking for "donut hole" families, just to be clear.
    · Reply · Share
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 10182 replies393 threads Senior Member
    edited August 5
    Whose arguing that one is better than the others? The only Ivies I've ever heard dissed are those people refer to as "lesser Ivies". I do believe that all the Ivies are different, so one may be better at one field than another, but it doesn't mean it's better at everything. Since your goal is to apply to all 3 there must be something you like about each one. What other people think doesn't really matter.
    edited August 5
    · Reply · Share
  • MWolfMWolf 3007 replies14 threads Senior Member
    The entire concept of ranking by "best to worst" as though somebody is able to boil down colleges to a single number is ludicrous. It is like ranking all vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, etc, and saying of three of them that "these three vehicles are the Very Best Vehicles In The World".

    So the ranking are, essentially saying that an expensive sports car is "a better vehicle" than a pickup.

    Harvard, or Yale, or Princeton are ranked at the top, since the factors that are used for ranking are factors at which these colleges excel. All that ranking do is tell you how similar a college or a university is the the set of colleges from which the people who created the ranking systems come, or which they have decided are The best Of The Best Of The Best.

    You cannot compare research universities to LACs, you cannot compare private research universities to public research universities, and you cannot compare these to "directional" universities.

    The only thing comparison that makes sense is comparing colleges to find which is best for YOU. There are usually a number which fit in this category, BTW, for every person.

    So my kid is attending a liberal arts college which she feels is the best fit that she could wish for. She had absolutely no interest in applying to any Ivy, and she disliked Harvard intensely. So is Harvard The Best College for her, or any of the hundreds of thousand of other students for whom Harvard is a really bad fit? So how can it in any way be "The Best College" if it isn't the best college for everybody?

    There are many categories for which Harvard is #1 including the size of its endowment. and age (oldest college in the USA). On the other hand, there are many factors at which Harvard does in a mediocre manner, does really badly, and some things which it doesn't do at all (including humility - Harvard does NOT do humility).

    Like any college, it has its advantages and disadvantages, and these are what an applicant should consider when deciding whether to apply to Harvard, not empty factors like ranking or prestige.

    Yes, once upon a time, prestige was extremely important, in the days when being " A Harvard Man", "A Princeton Man", or "A Yale Man" would be enough to establish your credentials as part of the elite, and smoothed thing over for jobs, rent, marriage, promotions, etc. However, that attitude disappeared like the "men only" policies of these colleges. The importance of "prestige" has mostly faded, relegated to bragging rights among people who still care about prestige.

    Advantages that graduates of prestigious colleges have are more the result of alumni connections than because of non-alumni being impressed by the college's prestige.

    PS. Some preferences that alumni of"prestigious" college receive are because their reputation in the field is rightfully earned, like MIT for engineering, UPenn for business, etc.
    · Reply · Share
  • blossomblossom 10563 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Which is better- Rocky Road or Mint Chip?

    OP-spend less time looking at rankings and more time figuring out what you want out of your education.
    · Reply · Share
  • happy1happy1 24442 replies2462 threads Super Moderator
    edited August 6
    A few comments:

    -- Once you get into the "real world" nobody will know or care about the latest USNWR, Boston Magazine, or any other rating.

    -If a person gets into any/all of those schools and they are all affordable then fit should the most important factor as opposed to any external rating.

    --A person's options (work, grad school etc.) after college will depend much more on what he/she has accomplished during his/her time at college - not which school he/she attended.

    ---And definitely mint chip LOL.
    edited August 6
    · Reply · Share
  • bludbulldogbludbulldog 28 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Look the prestige is there for HYP et al. Don’t try to pretend it’s not there. That is separate from the question of which college is better for you
    · Reply · Share
  • blossomblossom 10563 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Bulldog- nobody is pretending the prestige isn't there. But what that prestige means to any particular student or how it might manifest itself is a hard question- and not one that lends itself to ranking.

    Cookies and Cream? A Senior member of CC whose posts I usually admire???? Oy vey....
    · Reply · Share
  • SisternightSisternight 133 replies0 threads Junior Member
    An interesting discussion of this topic on today's episode of Andrew Yang's Yang Speaks podcast entitled "College shouldn't be a luxury brand..."
    · Reply · Share
  • Twoin18Twoin18 2267 replies21 threads Senior Member
    edited August 6
    Look the prestige is there for HYP et al. Don’t try to pretend it’s not there. That is separate from the question of which college is better for you

    I agree that “prestige” affects your ability to access some opportunities. S has interned at a well known think tank and most of his fellow interns were from tippy top private schools. It was very noticeable that those students have far less relevant experience than the (much smaller number of) interns that come from state schools. And generally the state school applicants applied through the open online portal whereas the private school students had direct contacts they reached out to in order to get an interview (eg after someone from the think tank presented at their school).

    Having said that, the state school students probably have the more impressive resumes overall, and at the end of the day I expect they will do very well in applications for prestigious grad schools and policy jobs. My belief is that a truly exceptional student will do well and find opportunities wherever they go, whereas a more average student (by Ivy League standards) will receive more opportunities attending a tippy top school.

    I also saw this in the context of D’s ex-BF who went to Stanford because his parent worked there. Nice kid, but not someone you’d describe as exceptionally brilliant. But getting into Stanford delivered him lots of amazing internship opportunities on a plate (even before he started college).
    edited August 6
    · Reply · Share
  • gibbygibby 10541 replies249 threads Senior Member
    edited August 6
    Let’s see . . . in no particular order there is . . . Jif, Skippy, Smucker's and Peter Pan. And then you have all the other brands. Each is peanut butter, but we all have a particular favorite. Why??? Because we like -- and have grown accustom to -- the taste of one brand over the other. It’s the same with HYPSM and all the rest.

    BOTTOM LINE: Aside from your very first employer — no one, and I really mean NO ONE -- cares where you went to college!!! They care about how well you can DO the job and what personable skills you bring with you TO the job.

    However, your first employer AND the first salary you are given determines whether you reach a six figure salary the first day out of college, five years down the road, or ten years of slogging away at the same job day-after-day-after-day. IMHO, the top brands deliver the goods, while all the others are just, well . . . peanut butter.
    edited August 6
    · Reply · Share
  • Twoin18Twoin18 2267 replies21 threads Senior Member
    “BOTTOM LINE: Aside from your very first employer — no one, and I really mean NO ONE -- cares where you went to college!!! They care about how well you can DO the job and what personable skills you bring with you TO the job.”

    There are always exceptions to such rules. Let’s say you have a 4.0 in Symbolic Systems from Stanford. That alone will bring you opportunities 20 or 30 years later. Any similarly unique qualification (like say a Rhodes scholarship) can make a difference throughout your career (depending on what you choose to do).
    · Reply · Share
  • MWolfMWolf 3007 replies14 threads Senior Member
    @Twoin18 That is NOT because of Stanford's "prestige". That is because Stanford is acknowledged to be one of the top colleges in that particular field. However, an engineering degree from UIUC will make a difference for a long time, but a Chemistry degree a lot less. Also, an engineering degree from UIUC will trump an engineering degree from Harvard any day of the week, and twice on Sunday, even though Harvard has more "prestige" than UIUC. Again, it is because UIUC is known in the industry to train its engineers extremely well.

    As for opportunities - if a person's parents are working at Stanford, the opportunities are there whether they attend Stanford or not.

    D19 has had amazing opportunities for internships in high school because my wife is well connected across academia, even though she was working at a college which is not considered to be at all "prestigious".

    I also know that, for most fields, internship opportunities abound even in college with "lesser prestige". UIC has interns in every single top tech company, as well as in a large number of big financial companies which are headquartered in Chicago. It does better with engineering internships than many colleges which are considered at the "top" in regards to prestige.
    blossom wrote: »
    Cookies and Cream? A Senior member of CC whose posts I usually admire???? Oy vey....

    I have bad taste is some desserts, I admit. I even... like... <whispers> milk chocolate.
    · Reply · Share
  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 526 replies2 threads Member
    As an incoming freshmen in college, I don't have much to add to the discussion about how much prestige matters for your undergrad (and wouldn't be impartial given that I'm going to a school that's considered "prestigious" by CC,) but here is my 2 cents on what to take out of this topic for students applying to college:

    There are two important factors that you should keep in mind if you're considering applying to a "prestigious college."

    1. You should truly LOVE the school and NOT the school's brand name. I highly recommend you create a pros vs. cons list to help decide (prestige is NOT a pro, but strong alumni connections/network/school sponsored internship programs and a strong pre-med/law/business advising program are.)

    2. You and your family can afford the school if admitted (run financial aid calculators if applicable.)

    You need to be able to show through your essays, extracurricular activities etc. that you've thoughtfully researched schools and have come to the conclusion that this school is the best fit for you because of specific opportunities available there. Applying to a school just because of its name isn't going to benefit you when it comes time to writing essays and talking about the school in interviews. Throughout my college admissions process, I've noticed that many of the interviewers for "prestigious schools," all LOVED their schools because of specific aspects of the curriculum etc, not just because it's another line to add to their resume, and this is what admissions is looking for: students that will contribute to the school community and be changed for the better by it as a result.

    I'm not very familiar with College Confidential inside jokes, but if this is truly a discussion about favorite sweets, I absolutely LOVE white chocolate (yes, I know it's fudge not chocolate.) :smile:
    · Reply · Share
  • Data10Data10 3446 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited August 7
    LZHope wrote: »
    Prestige cannot be ranked among the Big Three, can it?

    I have read that, actually, Princeton was ranked #1 by U.S. News and World Report for a number of years (though ranking is relatively arbitrary).
    Ranking "prestige" is not as arbitrary as USNWR criteria, but it still far from a uniform definition.

    If by "prestige" you more mean name recognition, such that a random person on the street would have heard of the college and react in some way to the college name, then Harvard would probably come out on top. Harvard gets mentioned in far more TV shows and movies than Yale or Princeton. However, if you mean that a potential employer in your field and desired location is most likely to take notice, then the ranking is likely to be very different. For example, I was an EE major. If I was ranking HYP in engineering prestige, I'd put Princeton first. None of "the Big Three" would not appear towards the top of my list of colleges with most engineering prestige.

    USNWR does not directly rank on prestige, although they do rank based on things like surveys of academics and college counselors (not employers) asking to rank the colleges on a scaled of 1 = "marginal" to 5 = "distinguished." When I last looked, the top ranked colleges by this metric were as follows.

    Academics
    4.9 -- MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton
    4.7 -- Berkeley, Caltech, Columbia, Yale
    4.6 -- Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Cornell
    4.5 -- Duke, Penn
    4.4 -- Michigan, Northwestern, Brown
    4.3 -- UCLA, GeorgiaTech, CMU, Dartmouth

    HS Counselors
    5.0 -- MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale
    4.9 -- Johns Hopkins, Other Ivies except Penn*
    4.8 -- Penn*, Chicago, Duke Georgetown
    4.7 -- Berkeley, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Rice

    *Public colleges seem do to worse in the rankings by HS counselors than in the rankings by academics. Perhaps Penn being the lowest ranked Ivy by HS counselors relates to a small portion of HS counselors thinking "University of Pennsylvania" is part of the Pennsylvania public system.

    Which is better- Rocky Road or Mint Chip?.
    Regarding ice cream flavors, if I had to choose between just those two I'd pick rocky road. Mint doesn't belong on ice cream. However, I'd much prefer a flavor with a vanilla base, good amount of nuts, some peanut butter, and some chocolate/fudge, but not so generous toppings to be overwhelming. Blue Bunny's signature flavor Bunny Tracks does a good job of this balance.
    edited August 7
    · Reply · Share
  • LZHopeLZHope 68 replies17 threads Junior Member
    Those are all good points. I was just wondering what the consensus was, I know that a student shouldn't attend a college based on prestige alone, that is very shallow.

    That is true, socaldad2002. Undergraduate education is very important, and I've heard that elite LACs excel in that area. I applied to one not long ago.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity