Ivy or Free Ride

Thanks so much!


The nationality rooms are replicas of classrooms and are supposed to be culturally authentic. The process started in the 1920’s and the craftsmanship and detail is remarkable. I’m not sure you could even replicate the work today. The rooms could take 10 years to build and furnish. Most of the rooms are still used as classrooms on a daily basis (I had my fair share). A few are special access only like the Persian room. I think it might have actual artifacts and decor if I remember correctly.

Make sure you visit the surrounding areas to get a complete picture. After the Cathedral, Schenley Park and Phipps Conservatory are nice. You can also see the Carnegie Museum and walk around Craig Street. If you venture off campus check out CMU, Shadyside, and/or Squirrel Hill. I would tell you to get some fries at “The O” but it closed last year which I still can’t believe. Primanti’s is close by and you can get some slaw and fries on your sandwich. Work it off by climbing Cardiac Hill.


“110k AGI for a family of 4 with an existing net worth of $250k± excluding retirement assets does not strike me as a struggling family.”

As others have noted, it would depend on the location, most places in CA, an AGI of $110K while not struggling, would still mean a good amount of FA is needed for OOS or private colleges.

" It means he’s part of the group that’ll especially be helped by an Ivy League education (ie., not just a great education, but a life changing education)."

The research does show that agree, but you don’t need an Ivy to have a life-changing education, my current favorite for that is Oprah Winfrey who went to Tennessee State ( “Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.” ) Now you could say hat she could be worth a lot more than the $2.7 billion she is now if she went to an Ivy, sure.

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When the senator has an undergrad and law degree from Harvard, going to that same college certainly helped this student get the internship, no doubt.

She also has had impromptu meetings with Elizabeth Warren and lunch with congressional aides. For a government/polical science major, some schools open doors much more easily than others. Access can be important. Is it everything, “no” but let’s not forget that some undergrad institutions do a better job that others in giving their students more opportunities.

I agree that some institutions provide more opportunities than others. I also agree that Harvard can open doors, etc.

Most people do not graduate from Harvard.

I know 3 young adults who graduated Harvard within the last few years, and they never had the experience of meeting anybody on the order of Elizabeth Warren (that’s pretty cool btw). My daughter had 2 HS teachers who graduated from Harvard. They are both working in our school district with “regular” jobs. One young adult Harvard grad just became a social worker.

I know kids at one particular state school who met the child of an ex POTUS, listened to this POTUS speak on campus, gave private tours to celebrity children, had the opportunity to eat lunch with the campaign manager of a recent presidential candidate, worked directly for the governor, interned directly with a famous journalist, and worked with world renowned scientists. All of these things happened at one particular state school.

I don’t say this to diminish Harvard- I would never do that. Harvard is…well…Harvard! I agree that Harvard opens doors.

My point is that most people do not attend Harvard, and it doesn’t stop them from achieving and experiencing great things.


All one has to do is google and they can usually find impressive alumni from pretty much any college.


I know several graduates of Ivys and T20 schools that are underemployed or back at school because they couldn’t find a job.

They went for free because they were low income so no debt, but the name doesn’t lead to jobs/connections for everyone. I wonder if most of the connections have to do with your parents and their circle if you are upper income or wealthy.


I agree with you. I also know students at Ivy League and other top schools who could not find internships and who needed a lot of help with their job search.

One of my relatives from a top LAC is still unemployed. Much of success depends on the individual.


Some of you are using outliers (ie., unemployed Ivy League graduates, an exceptional poli-sci graduate whose senator attended the state school).
There’s a big difference between what is norm and outliers. You really cannot generalize from anecdotes.

@aguadecoco: research would tend to disprove what you say. Lower income students at Ivy League universities are the students with the greatest difference in outcome, because the university becomes their social and cultural capital (generally provided by the family for upper middle and upper class students). For instance, when internships would be provided by family connections, lower income students could rely on their alma mater’s alumni networks and their connections.


Totally agree with @MYOS1634

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  1. Stats never apply to the individual, so they’re good to look at, but no guarantee. However, it’s good if one is going to try to overcome stats to be aware of what might be required.

  2. Our lower income kids who do well tend to be our self-driven kids. Self-driven are what top schools look for. It’s no surprise at all to me when they do well coming from wherever they are given the opportunity to fly.

  3. Upper income kids have a lot of safety nets. They can be self-driven and do well or they can be hand held and do “well” - or anything in between. “Well” in this situation can vary in depth considerably.

  4. When someone has the resume on paper to do well, but doesn’t, it’s often beneficial to have someone totally unrelated look at their overall picture to see if there are people skills that can be improved, if a different location would be better, or “something” is being overlooked by everyone too close to see it (or not wanting to mention it). That said, sometimes it’s just the economy.

Just my views from 20+ years of working in a public school and seeing outcomes.

All outcomes assume drug/alcohol abuse isn’t involved as that can tank anyone from any background.


As with most things, there is no one size fits all answer. I will swing back to the original topic- this student may do medical research and may be some type of biology major.

One does not get a job in this field right out of undergrad. He will work as a research assistant, which does not pay a lot.

This student has to give up something (as most of us do). Is he willing to give up an Ivy, but possibly have an “easier” time after graduation in terms of finding a nicer apartment, maybe having a little more money for hobbies or entertainment, etc…or…does he prefer the Ivy, knowing he may have loans to pay which will directly impact other decisions (jobs, apartments, etc).

He will thrive at either school, and he has to decide what he wants. Also…it seems that his loan will not be as much as I originally thought? I thought he would be paying back $80,000- but it seems he will not (?).


Out of 80K, his parents can pay 20K, so the loan amount would be 60K for 4 yrs.

Hopefully Yale will match Penn’s 20K/yr. Then visit both Pitts and Yale and let him decide.


I think $60,000 is going to significantly impact the choices he has following graduation. I would not want my biology grad paying off this type of loan after undergrad. It would definitely impact the choice of apartment, whether or not he/she could accept social invitations etc.


I agree that these students are all better off for having attended top schools and getting a great education for free or less than UT.

It also depends on what the student studies, where they want to live and if they are the type of student that will end up taking advantage of all opportunities at school.

ETA: If this were my kid I would let him choose the school he likes best without taking money into consideration. That was my first comment to OP.


How do people not take money into consideration if the money is not there in the first place, or if it might not be there to pay it back later? I say this as somebody who has no problem spending money.

If there is $500 a month for this student to pay for his loans, then he should choose whatever school he wants. If that money isn’t there, then choose Pitt.


I agree - on top of this, just because you can afford it (if you can) doesn’t mean you should afford it.

It’s an individual choice - but I can tell you as a parent, the COA is not the COA. Add in Greek life if you do, Spring Break or other trips, late night pizzas, clothing, etc. - it adds up.

I can afford any school - again and it’s personal choice - while we can afford her top school (Washington & Lee) or her chosen school (American @ $57K), our finalists are both under $35K (College of Charleston and U of South Carolina - both Honors).

To me, her best connections for what she wants to do - government / political stuff - is without a doubt W&L. In fact, after Sewanee, on a per capita basis, they place more people in government (so says a professor there).

But for an extra $45-50K a year over four years - we’ll go the cheaper route. If my daughter is that good, that ambitious - she’ll find a way to sell herself.

Again, everyone has perspectives.

Also - I know it’s not the case in this situation but for merit aid - one has to keep up a GPA - and a 4.5 in HS does not necessarily translate to the requirements to keep a scholarship.

Most Ivy Leaguers end up in regular jobs. I had an admin that was a Stanford grad (albeit English).

No doubt that on an overall basis, an Ivy leaguer ends up better. But there’s also plenty working for Southern Illinois or Ole’ Miss grads.

These are really personal decisions but I can tell you, even the wealthiest will feel personal strain - because it’s a ton of $$ to drop. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth it - and that’s why it’s an individual decision.

You will likely sleep better at night going to Pitt because you won’t face years and years of monthly payments on top of rent, a car payment, medical insurance, and the like.

But few are fortunate enough to attend an elite institution and if that’s worth it to you no matter the possible hiccups, then it’s understandable as well.

A lot of it is your level of risk aversion. I’m risk averse - I go for the sure thing !! And that’s Pitt.

Good luck.


Lots of not wealthy parents pay $20,000 or so per year for their kids’ college educations, between savings, income , loans ,etc . What you were willing to pay hopefully was made clear before applications went out and your son will be able to choose based on what you told him you would provide financially.


Blockquote Add in Greek life if you do, Spring Break or other trips, late night pizzas, clothing, etc


Greek life, Spring break trips, shopping trips… are all optional and… non educational. Nice to have for some but not necessary in any way.

The above student wants to do research so I doubt this would matter to him. Kids who are defined or d efine themselves through their interest in biology, foreign languages, poli sci, and a few other subjects + want to do research as a key criterion are more likely to get excited at the thought of having their own keys to the lab and going there in flip flops on Saturdays. :wink:

(Note that Ivy League budgets list expenses including clothing, transportation, miscellaneous, etc., that’s why we usually ask for net cost, ie, direct costs minus scholarships. )


It’s not just the school … it’s the major as well …
People are saying that college doesn’t provide the social mobility it once had …
Well YEAH it’s a global world, you need to pick something that US is competitive in the world.
Graduating Harvard with a degree in French Lit … or English … or I dunno … Flower Studies …
won’t get you up the social ladder.

That’s why averages are deceiving … one has to dig in deeper in the tails of the distributions.

I see all these articles about student debt and I go insane:

These were suicidal irrational decisions by students … treating college as an overpriced adult camp and then blaming the system …

Cudos to the CC community for being REALLY debt-averse.

Although sometimes too debt averse …