Readers of our blog tend to be interested in the highly selective college admissions process. Maybe their child is applying to Ivy League schools this year or next. Maybe their child is in kindergarten and they’re just trying to get everything in order (oy vey!). Or maybe they believe that Ivy League and other highly selective American universities are elitist and totally overrated. Yes, these folks read our blog, too. Hey, Ivy Coach’s blog has a big tent. And so, today, we thought we’d address those readers who believe that Ivy League and other highly selective American universities, with their always rising tuition prices, are elitist anachronisms of yesteryear. We’ll call it broadening our base if you will.
The Greatest Value of an Ivy League Education is Outside the Classroom
It may surprise these folks to learn that we have never once on the pages of our college admissions blog argued that the in-classroom education at an Ivy League institution is categorically better than, say, the in-classroom education at a top public university. We have never once argued that a Nobel Prize-contending professor teaching an organic chemistry course is any more valuable to a college chemistry student than being taught by a post-doc, though surely it’s not a difficult argument to make. In fact, it’s an easy argument to make. But our point is that we believe the true value of an Ivy League education (or an education at any of our nation’s most selective universities) should not be measured by the in-classroom experience. Rather, it should be measured by the out-of-classroom experience. It should be measured by the late night discussions with fellow students about the Socratic method over chicken parm that just aren’t as common at, say, a large state university. It should be measured by the intellectual debates during swim practices over reusable energy sources.
Ivy League Colleges Are Stomping Grounds of Future Change-makers
You see, when a student attends a less selective university, that student isn’t as likely to be surrounded — for four years — by intellectually curious, engaged young people who are going to be the movers and shakers of this world in the course of their lifetimes. Does that mean a game-changing figure, a Steve Jobs if you will, can’t come out of a less selective American university? Of course it can happen. It’s just that these examples prove the exception whereas at Ivy League and other highly selective universities, it often proves the rule.
Tuition for 2020-2021 Should Reflect the Missing Out-of-Classroom Experience
With the value of the out-of-classroom experience at Ivy League and other highly selective universities in mind, we read an editorial authored by Jack Hough for Barron’s entitled “Why It Could Be Time for a Crash in College Tuition” that is deserving of a mention. In his piece, Hough eloquently writes, “Since I started writing about college prices just over a decade ago, they’ve climbed another 45%, double the rate of inflation. For me, college has been an excellent deal. But the system has become too burdensome for many. I’m exhausted from tiptoeing around America’s endless culture wars. I realize that elite universities, like big cities, are frequent points of contention. Count me out. There’s much that can be improved for both, but America’s top universities are the envy of the world, and its cities, by the way, hold most of its people and produce most of its economic activity. I’m rooting for both. But I wouldn’t mind seeing an overdue restructuring that slashes the cost of higher education, and expands its reach.”
We Echo the Calls of Students and Parents to Freeze or Lower Tuition This Year
With so many students learning from their childhood bedrooms this year, we stand with the students and parents who are calling on colleges to freeze or lower their tuition costs for the 2020-2021 academic year. As we have long argued, the heart of a college education is not in the classroom; it is outside the classroom. Tuition costs for an academic year in which so many college campuses are all but closed should reflect this underlying principle of an education at our nation’s elite universities.
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