When the time comes to select a university, many students wonder if the famous schools in the Ivy League really offer a superior education to regular state schools. The experience of attending an Ivy League college includes many important benefits, and the education offered by these institutions is just one piece of the whole package.
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The Value of Elite Education
Perhaps just as important as education are the social connections available at universities such as Harvard and Princeton. These elite connections simply aren’t available anywhere else. Ivy League universities are very exclusive in their selection process and students who find themselves in a position to attend one of these schools automatically gain access to a world of elite social connections and opportunities.
People who graduate from one of these institutions are able to list a world-famous university on their resumes, opening up a world of elite job prospects in finance, government, academia, media, tech, law, and entertainment. While the education offered by an Ivy League school is at least as excellent as the education available at any top-200 university, the real value, arguably, is the name-recognition and elite social exposure.
The Role of Professors
The quality of the education offered by a college is determined by the professors teaching in each department. Top-name Ivy League schools naturally attract the most talented professors, and these instructors bring with them new and innovative ideas about how to teach their subjects.
All of the universities ranked in the top 200 by academic excellence attract highly talented professors who are passionate about teaching their subjects. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is not counted among the eight Ivy League schools, but it’s recognized as perhaps the best place in the world to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, according to the Independent. Depending on the reputation and location of a top-200 college that isn’t in the Ivy League, it may or may not offer the same caliber of elite social access as a true Ivy League university.
College rankings do matter, and the higher-ranked a university is, the likelier it is to offer an elite education. This hierarchy of academic competence is central to the careers of all professors working in higher education. Anyone who pursues a career as a professor has a pretty good idea of his or her place in the overall pecking order. By definition, this hierarchy has a low end, and colleges near the bottom of the rankings are not able to offer the same quality of education as those near the top. The professors teaching at these institutions have advanced degrees and expertise in their subjects, but they don’t have the same level of ambition, depth, and creativity as top-ranked professors.
A few professors in lower-ranked schools have the intellectual curiosity and intelligence to impart valuable perspective in their students over the course of a semester. What separates highly effective professors from the rest is that great professors naturally have the interest and passion to teach their subjects. In other words, they were born to be professors while the others could have just as easily chosen a different line of work.
Attending a university is one of the most important formative experiences you can have. If you’re thinking about going to college, you should familiarize yourself with the top-ranked universities and Ivy League schools.