Is an Ivy League Education Worth the Expense?

The answer to this question is complicated. Most people these days would agree that obtaining a college degree is a must if you want to be competitive in the volatile job market. Heck, even people with multiple diplomas to their name and years of experience in their field are having trouble finding employment in the ongoing recession that has hit the global economy. So students that are currently enrolled in college and steadily tracking towards graduation are understandably nervous about their prospects. And those that have yet to apply to college may be wondering which schools will give them the best opportunity to find gainful employment. With times so uncertain, it’s no surprise that many feel that an Ivy League education could be the answer. But there are a couple of issues to contend with when it comes to upper crust institutions of higher education like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and so on. For one thing, they are exceedingly difficult to get into. Students that want to gain admission to these prestigious schools must first meet high standards for grades, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, references, and so on. The exclusivity offered by these institutions demands that the screening process be rigorous; if anyone could get in they wouldn’t be nearly as desirable. So before you can even consider these schools you must be, well, scholarly. Then of course there is the price to contend with. While the funding afforded by wealthy alumni may allow Ivy League schools to offer more scholarships, you cannot guarantee that you’ll get them. And while you can certainly apply for financial aid, chances are you’re going to end up footing most of the bill on your own. So you need to be extra sure that it’s worth the cost of admission. But what could possibly make an education that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars better than one that costs a lot less? For starters, there is networking to consider. The types of students that attend Ivy League institutions are generally exceptional in some way. Most are go-getters that have worked extremely hard to get where they are, and this quality will serve them equally well as they attempt to advance along their career paths. In addition, many come from families that are wealthy and well-connected. This means that they have the financial and social (or perhaps even political) backing to pursue their professional dreams (like entrepreneurship, for instance). These are definitely the type of people you want to network with early on in order to make connections that will serve you later in life. And then there are the things the school itself can provide, such as a superior education. Truly, you can get a good education at many fine universities, but Ivy League schools may have the edge simply because of their own connections (to alumni, industry, government, and so on). And more money in the school means that students will likely have access to the latest technology and the best resources in the classroom. Of course, there are also resources devoted to helping you get internships and find jobs, which probably sounds a lot better than the “click here” style of job application that most graduates currently pursue. But is it worth the price tag? That depends entirely on you and how much you’re willing to gamble on your future prospects.