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Should you apply to an IVY League school?

People do everything from admitting their kids to feeder pre-schools for Ivy League schools to paying donations every year to the same, just to ensure a seat for their kids when it’s time for them to get their undergraduate degree. For such students, going to an Ivy League school is almost pre-determined.

But for everyone else, who will be making this choice in high school, it is one of the most crucial decisions that they will make as teenagers. The problem here is that teenagers mostly aren’t aware of all the pros and cons of an Ivy League education to take a fully informed decision.

Let’s eliminate this problem today. Looking at all the factors that should affect your decision of going to an Ivy League school is the best way to either open you up to choices like other private or public schools, or motivate you enough to ace your Ivy League application.

college building ivy league undergraduate school


The IVY League is American collegiate athletic conference.

The reference of the Ivy in the name comes from an old tradition dating back to the late 1800s. Students at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Yale have been reported to plant Ivy at graduation or class day during this period.

Now we all have, at some point in time or the other, named colleges that aren’t a part of the IVY League as being that. This is because in recent years, the academic excellence at these institutions have given them an elite status. They are highly selective universities but with the right SAT score, and AP classes you could get in.

In fact, a lot of other school, academically elite in their category have been named Ivies, for example, PUBLIC IVIES, or Little Ivies etc.

But there are only 8 true Ivy League schools.

Brown University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Harvard University
University of Pennsylvania, AKA UPenn
Princeton University
Yale University


It comes as no surprise that the tuition at an Ivy League school, no matter which one, is high due to its elite status. However, Harvard takes the cake when it comes to the highest tuition fees for a nine-month academic year.

School Name Tuition
Brown University $77,652
Columbia University $77,259
Cornell University $75,288
Dartmouth College $76,623
Harvard University $82,776
University of Pennsylvania, AKA UPenn $78,186
Princeton University $73,450
Yale University $75,925


A four-year degree from any of these schools won’t simply cost you the tuition for a year multiplied by four. The yearly tuition is increased each year. This means that if you plan to graduate from a four-year course from Harvard, you will have to pay well over ($82,776*4) $331,104 considering the amount of your academic year will be raised every year.

Unless you have that kind of money laying around going to waste, taking a decision that expensive could be painstaking. This gives us an amazing segue to our next point of consideration, financial aid at an Ivy League School.


With a cost of a four-year education at an Ivy League school going over $300,000, it is not easy to just decided you want to go to one of them.


While we can blame this huge cost on their elite status, something good also comes out of it. Due to the Ivy League’s prestige, the schools are successful in raising colossal funds to provide financial aid and scholarships to its students.

Many of these financial aid options are also non-loan, like term or summer employment. Schools like Harvard and Princeton, are also able to provide almost full scholarships to students from family incomes less than $65,000.

In fact, Harvard claims that 90% of the families pay less than or the same amount of tuition as they would if they sent their kid to a state school.

The only drawback that Ivy leagues face in the financial aid category however is that they don’t provide any financial aids based on athletics. While most public schools give full-ride scholarships to extraordinary student athletes, Ivy Leagues pride themselves on not divulging in that culture.


One of the biggest advantages that Ivy League graduates have is in career prospects. They might not all graduate with good connections but most of them will. The vast and influential alumni network that an Ivy League provides can be used as a stepping stone for a rising career.

The alumni network also only keeps growing. The school spirit that is instilled in graduates ensures they try to help their fellow school graduates in most cases.

Even if someone ends up not utilizing this facility and has no good connections when they graduate, the brand name associated with the school alone promises a higher paying job than someone with the same major from a competitor school.

However, the brand name does carry the promise of a more refined education as compared to many other private and public schools.

We will discuss the differences in career graphs in the financial aspect of Ivy League graduates and graduates form other schools in detail later in this blog.

For now, let’s look at what the starting salaries of an Ivy League graduate is on an average.

School Name Average Salary of 2019
Brown University $69,300
Columbia University $73,100
Cornell University $72,500
Dartmouth College $73,100
Harvard University $77,700
University of Pennsylvania, AKA UPenn $75,000
Princeton University $76,800
Yale University $73,900


The problem with these statistics is that most public schools, do not fall in line with them. While these top schools do provide good starting salaries for graduates, they are due to specific courses that these schools provide.

This also brings us to another important factor. Which courses are definitely not meant to be done from an Ivy League?

Majors with Better ROI at Public Schools

While Ivy League schools provide equally good research and education in the majors that they provide, some Public schools provide a much better ROI in certain of their courses.

For such majors, it is almost a wasted opportunity to pay the fee of an Ivy league.

Art Major:

For an Art Major, the Fashion Institute of Technology New York, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Cincinnati are the places to be. No Ivy League would be able to provide you an ROI as good as these institutions.

Engineering Major:

If you wish to make a career in Engineering, don’t look at the Ivy Leagues for a good course. Public schools like the University of California Berkeley, the Lamar University, and the McNeese State University have you covered.


Math and Computer Major:

The top spots for a Math or Computer Majors are the University of California Berkeley, the University of California San Diego, and the University of Washington.

Science Major:

Science majors receiving the highest annual ROIs in the year 2019 are from the University of California Berkeley, the University of California San Diego, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

As you can tell, an Ivy League school isn’t the end all for a high ROI. Many majors, receive much better recruitments from public schools. this point also points to the fact that the University of California, a public school, is providing a high annual ROI in many majors as compared to the Ivy Leagues.

Use such information to perform more research about the major of your choice major before filling in your applications.


This is a long list of criteria. An Ivy League admission isn’t just about having an amazing application or SAT score. It relies a little bit on luck too.

If you were born in a rich family that has been making constant donations to an Ivy League school, your application has better chances of turning into an admit. This not purely because of the donations. You will also be groomed to grow up doing every single thing that an Ivy League student is expected by the society to do.

Your application will also be stacked on top of the shortlist pile if you have a letter of recommendation from an alumnus of the school you’re applying to. It’s even better if you’re a legacy. A legacy is a student who’s one or both parents are alumni of the school they are applying to.

However, that’s about how far your luck will take you. Not even any of the above-mentioned things can guarantee you an admit due to the fierce competition and the sheer volume of applications.

All you can do to give an Ivy league your best shot is being the best in your situation. Having a 4.0 GPA and a million AP classes won’t impress an Ivy League admission committee member if everyone at your school has the same stats. But, if on top of these things, you have your own podcast, or other projects that are doing well, your uniqueness would appeal to them.

Similarly, if everyone in your area code has a 3.0 GPA, and 2 AP classes, your 3.6 GPA and 5 AP classes will make you seem like an overachiever.

This is because admission committees measure you against an applicant pool that has situation similar to yours.


I know you didn’t really ask for this section but it’s almost as necessary as all the other sections of this blog to help you decided whether you should put your money into an Ivy League education.

What’s the point of getting into an Ivy League and then dropping out after a semester or two?

As the reputation suggests, Ivy Leagues churn out diamonds as graduates each year. And we all know how diamonds are made, lot of pressure and heat for years under the Earth’s crust.

Students often get starstruck by an Ivy League’s brand name and do not realize that nothing is perfect. But soon after admission the blinders come off.

Many Ivy League graduates have recalled their experiences on campus to be less-than friendly. Students are under the pressure to be the best and have been known to be in competition with even their best friends. And this is not the healthy competition that is encouraged throughout your life.

The competition only worsens as semesters pass. The high volume of projects and thesis have known to drive students to substance usage and sleeplessness according to a graduate from Columbia.

A Yale professor, William Deresiewicz, also revealed how he believed that education at elite institutions like the Ivy Leagues is only focused on academics and career and serve little to no function in developing students as individuals.

Since we’re talking about surviving an Ivy League education, let’s look at what a day in the life of an Ivy League student actually looks like.

Ivy League Graduate

We have to understand that elite colleges have a reputation to uphold and this pressure is exactly what has helped them do exactly that. So, if you can’t handle this pressure, or have different expectations from your undergrad life, an Ivy league might not be the place for you.

In the end, a degree is only as valuable as the student holding it, and you can receive similar or higher ROIs from some other undergrad schools as well.

Whether you get into an Ivy League or not is a secondary thing, first you need to figure out if you want to.

College is a time when a student finally turns into an adult. You learn to manage your finances, handle pressure, and party without your parents constantly keeping an on you. But what you don’t realize is that the first decision that initiates this transition is which college you go to. So, choose carefully because this could be the deciding factor of whether you’ll own a Prius and a Lambo in 10 years.

For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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