Monday, March 3, 2008

How Imporant is an Ivy League Education?

I got a comment yesterday on my post on How to Get Into an Ivy League School. In it, the reader was stressed about trying to get into an Ivy League school despite the fact that he has started "late" as he is almost done with his Freshman year.

Before I go answer that question specifically, I really want to touch on something. In no way should you feel stressed about getting into an Ivy League School. Let's just be clear, it is very hard to get in but not getting in does not mean the end of the world. The vast majority of people who apply do not get in and they go on to live perfectly happy lives. I firmly believe that you can get a fantastic eduction no matter where you go, it is up to you to make the most of it. It is true, that most of my friends who have attended Ivy League schools have gone on to have great careers but you should not confuse correlation with causation. Most of these people got into an Ivy League school because they are just the type of person who would succeed in any environment. Just keep that in mind.

So despite my own words which may suggest that I've greatly benefited from my Ivy League degree, please keep those words in context. You will do fine in life so long as you are smart and driven. It does not matter what school your diploma comes from.

OK, now that I got that out of the way, let me answer this person's specific question. You have nothing to worry about. I personally didn't take any AP courses my Freshman year. I only took one my Sophomore year (that was basically all my school offered to Sophomores). I did however take every honors course that my school offered in the respective grades.

I'm no expert on the subject, but I heard of people who botched up their Freshman year, and recovered their Sophomore and Junior years to still get in. From the sound of it, my reader is doing well in the classes he is taking, so this is not a worry. If you show good progression and you take the hardest courses you can your Sophomore and Junior years, I think you have nothing to worry about. So don't sweat it. Do well in the classes you are taking now, and make sure you take the hardest courses you can going forward. To balance it out, you should be sure to be involved in as many extra-curriculars this year to show that you were committed to making an impact in other ways this year, not just academically. Best of luck to you.


  1. You have no idea how much weight you have allowed my shoulders to rest from. I really really appreciate the fact that you actually took the time to read my comment and actually answer back. Anyway, thank you for the advice you have given me (not just to me but to everyone who has read this). Today has been a day of great relief from me, as I now know that I'm not out of the competition. I also talked to my counselor today; he told me to keep up the good work after he told me I have a 4.0 GPA and my class rank is #14 (1000 students in my freshmen class). He also told me not to kill myself over this, and that college admissions aren't just numbers, but rather good grades combined with extracurriculars and community service. And as for the extracurriculars, I am doing many this year. I am in the Mock Trial Team, in the High Q club, I'm going to be participating in the UIL competition, I am the best in my guitar class, and I am soon to join the S.W.A.T club, and I am working on some community service projects. Thank you for your time, you have my eternal gratitude.

  2. You are welcome. One other bit of advice. Don't spread yourself too thin in terms of extra-curricular. It is much more important to show that you have a deep passion and commitment for something than doing a bunch of random things. Depth, not breadth in this case.

  3. Ok thank you, your advice is greatly appreciated. I'm going to be checking on your posts every once in a while, they are great!