The cost of an Ivy League school is an investment, to say the least. Tuition alone costs between $40,000 and $47,000 each year at most Ivy League colleges, which leaves some parents and would-be students wondering if Ivy League schools are worth the money.

Recently, high school student Kwasi Enin from Long Island was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools: Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and University of Pennsylvania. (He decided to attend Yale.) That’s pretty impressive, right? His accomplishment put Ivy League schools — and the expense of attending them — on the front page of the news for a while. But many were left wondering: is an Ivy education worth the cost?

The Positives of an Ivy League Education

Keep in mind that many students who attend Ivy League schools will receive financial aid. In fact, Bloomberg points out that Ivy League schools offer some of the most generous financial aid packages.

Additionally, some say that employers look favorably at Ivy League degrees. Elena Bajic, founder and CEO of an online executive job search site, told USA today, “When an employment recruiter looks at an Ivy League degree, they will usually look at it more carefully… An Ivy League education makes a candidate stand out, even before a recruiter talks to them.”

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Ivy League students are often high achievers, which can push other students to do their best. “[T]he vast majority of my peers were ambitious, hard-working, and interesting people… “I thrive when I’m feeling chronically inadequate… and am nurtured at the same time,” writes Princeton graduate Aneil Mishra in a Mic article.

The Negatives of an Ivy League Education

The chance of being accepted an Ivy League school isn’t all that high. Harvard, for example, accepted just 5.9% of applicants in 2012 and 5.8% in 2013. But those accepted to Ivies can face unique challenges during the course of their education beyond just getting into the school in the first place:

  • Grade Inflation: An issue in high schools and other colleges, Ivy League schools are also guilty of grade inflation. A Boston Globe article noted specifically that Harvard College was under fire for it in 2013. Grade inflation occurs when higher marks become the norm on work that in the past would have scored lower.“Critics say that making top grades the norm cheapens the hard work of the best students and reinforces the deluded self-regard of many members of the millennial generation,” wrote the author.
  • Hand-Holding: Some critics have argued that Ivy League schools offer more hand holding to students, resulting in graduating classes that are less prepared for the real world. Is it worth paying more for an Ivy League education when an additional cost is a lack of life skills?
  • Intense Pressure and Stress: Other critics point out that there is a lot of stress involved in obtaining an Ivy League education. In March 2014, it was reported that three students had committed suicide at University of Pennsylvania in a very short span of time.
  • Academically speaking, many less costly universities are on par with Ivy League schools.

Does an Ivy League Education Offer Distinct Advantages for Women?

A Forbes article that examined the Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women concluded that yes, an Ivy League education is absolutely worth the cost for women. 30 of the 100 women who made the list earned their degrees from Ivy League schools.

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Plus, consider this: “These numbers are all the more remarkable in light of the fact that the majority of these schools only started accepting women in the late 1960’s, early 70’s (with Columbia University in New York being the final holdout, not admitting women until 1982).”

It’s hard to conclusively say that an Ivy League education is worth the investment. There are pros and cons to spending that kind of money on college and in the end, you’ll have to decide which column has more checks based on your needs and goals — and bank account.


Laura Willard

Laura Willard

Laura Willard is an adoptive mom, a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting, a writer, a curator and an editor. She cares deeply about social justice issues. Laura enjoys spending time with her family and friends, walking on the beach - something that's become quite difficult since she left San Diego and returned to Arizona a year ago - and a good glass of wine. She loves to spend hours on end writing, but avoids doing math at all costs. (She loves her accountant dearly.) Laura's certain sarcasm is a language, so she's totally bilingual.  Follow Laura on Twitter and Google+ and Facebook

1 Comment

Are Ivy League Schools Worth It? | davidjonesgrd · March 12, 2015 at 6:41 pm

[…] comes with going to Ivy Leagues often causes students to buckle under the pressure. According to Is an Ivy League Education Worth It, in just one month this year, three Ivy League students committed suicide. The article also notes […]

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