TANGLED UP IN IVY: Attending an Ivy League school comes with bragging rights and promising career choices--but what if you don't get in?

Author:Schneider, Lindy

MANY college-bound seniors set their sights on getting into an Ivy League school. It is a noble goal to have and inspires students to get the highest grades they can manage. It also is a catalyst that pushes high school students to participate in many volunteer activities to help make their application stand out. The truth is, though, that may not be enough for a student to get into the school of his or her dreams, especially if that dream revolves around an Ivy League campus.

The applications to these schools are numerous and the spaces to fill relatively few. For instance, in 2017, Harvard received more than 42,000 applications, and admitted 4.59% of those students. However, the percentage of acceptance at Harvard and the other seven Ivy schools increases significantly if the applicant self-identifies as a person of color or a first-generation college student. For regular decisions, however, when judged only upon performance and resume (SAT and ACT scores, grade point average, volunteer work, interview results) the rate of acceptance remains quite low.

Why seek out an Ivy League school in the first place? The reasons may look something like this: people will be impressed that I was accepted into an Ivy League school; I want the prestige that a top school can give me; graduating from this university will give me advantages in the job market over lesser-known schools; I want to learn from the famous professors that are on staff; I can make connections with elites.

First and most importantly, your future is not dependent upon your bragging rights. What you do in college is far more important than where you go to college. The most-important thing you can do is to find a school that fits you. For instance, if you are a conservative, you likely will feel like a misfit in an Ivy League school. The Ivies tend to have a more-liberal mindset.

The prestige that you would receive from attending an Ivy League school matters less than what you do with your education. If you got into an Ivy League school and you struggle to keep pace with your peers, you might graduate in the lower half of your class. At a different school with less scholarly competition, that same effort likely would put you near the top of your graduating class.

Also, you need to decide what it is you want to pursue professionally. If, for example, your passion is graphic design, you will cam more prestige in your field by going to the Rhode Island School of Design--and the chances...

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