top of page

What's Harvard?

April 19, 2024 at 4:00:00 PM

Paris Zhang '27

I'm sure we have all seen at least one video titled "These Are the Stats That Got Me into Harvard," in which that one student shows off their 4.0 GPA, national award in literature, and 100 hours of community service. It's wild how crazy their extracurriculars are, enough to leave everyone thinking, "You have to do that to get into Harvard?"

Recently, I've seen more of these videos pop up on my reels, and they not only heighten my stress levels but also make me wonder what it is about Ivy Leagues that people obsess over. As students at a college preparatory high school, we have all heard of them: Harvard, Yale, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, and Cornell, schools renowned for their academic excellence and selective admissions. 

In recent years, Ivy League schools have become a symbol of "superiority." It's like wearing a designer brand, but instead of showing off your wealth, you show off your intelligence. When someone is accepted into one of the Ivies, people can't help but show their awe with gaping mouths and widening eyes. 

It's automatically assumed that Ivy students are brilliant, hardworking, and dedicated. It is not untrue, since to be accepted, not only do student have to be at the top of their class, they also have to excel in extracurriculars like sports, arts, and music, and show active engagement within their community. Nevertheless, does this mean students who get rejected from Ivies are not all of those things? Absolutely not. 

It has become increasingly more challenging to get accepted to Ivies due to fierce competition. According to Crimson Education, Dartmouth's acceptance rate has dropped from 10.4% for the class of 2021 to around 6% for the class of 2027. Other Ivies, like Cornell and UPenn, have also shown a significant decline in acceptance rates. All the Ivies now have an acceptance rate of less than ten percent. 

Even when the bar is so high, why do these northeast colleges still receive tens of thousands of applications worldwide yearly? The fundamental reason is that people believe Ivy League schools provide students with top-notch resources and career opportunities. This claim is not baseless: according to Claybourn, "Early-career (which PayScale defines as three years of work experience) median pay in 2022 was $86,025 for Ivy League graduates, compared to $58,643 for those who graduated from other universities.” In today's highly competitive job market, the job opportunities these schools offer students are undoubtedly appealing. 

Growing up in a Chinese household, my parent's academic expectations for me are not low. I've always been taught that education is the key to success. My parents hope I get into an Ivy, and even if I don't, they say it'll be okay because I tried my best. Still, I know for a fact that they would be over the moon if I did. They would earn bragging rights at family gatherings and tell all of their friends. 

At the end of the day, what truly matters is following your passions and personal growth, which are much more important than the name of your college. Sure, Ivy schools can guide you to excellence, but if you have dedication, you can succeed anywhere, regardless of the school. In fact, many high-profile figures did not graduate from Ivies. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, went to Auburn University, and Karen Lynch, Forbes' number one female CEO, received her bachelor's degree at Boston College. 

Although I understand the "Ivy college craze," what college students graduate from does not determine their abilities to build a successful life.

bottom of page