STUMP » Articles » On Going to the Ivy League » 30 July 2014, 03:03

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

On Going to the Ivy League  


30 July 2014, 03:03

I wouldn’t know first hand.

I know several people who went to Ivies and other “brand name” schools. I’ve had to talk down very smart kids from despair because they didn’t get into Brand Name schools.

So the kerfuffle going around over Ivy League Schools are Overrated just leaves me a bit…. meh. It’s difficult for me to care.

I do laugh every April when the NYT and WSJ run stories that are essentially “OMG MY KID DIDN’T GET INTO HARVARD”, because just come on.

Let me pull a quote from the original piece:

I used to think that we needed to create a world where every child had an equal chance to get to the Ivy League. I’ve come to see that what we really need is to create one where you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.

High-quality public education, financed with public money, for the benefit of all: the exact commitment that drove the growth of public higher education in the postwar years. Everybody gets an equal chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them—you know, the American dream. Everyone who wants it gets to have the kind of mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience that a liberal arts education provides. We recognize that free, quality K–12 education is a right of citizenship. We also need to recognize—as we once did and as many countries still do—that the same is true of higher education. We have tried aristocracy. We have tried meritocracy. Now it’s time to try democracy.

Be serious for a moment. Not every child has an equal chance to get into a Brand Name School any more than every person has equal chance to get a spot in the NBA.

Ignoring that, there are already free versions of the education provided by these institutions.

If you haven’t heard of these already, let me introduce you to:

That’s the three biggest names, two of which have direct connection to Brand Name Schools (more than one, I’ll have you know).

I took a financial accounting course from a Wharton professor (and no, I didn’t learn much new… I was mainly checking out how well it was implemented, and I was impressed by the quality). I’ve signed up for many courses, mainly watching videos and downloading supporting docs, and not so much doing assignments or exams. In some cases, I did do all the assignments and tests, for feedback purposes.

But I didn’t pay for any credentialing (all three have paid options, btw, to credential what you did). I already have professional credentials and multiple degrees. I don’t need any more official credentials.

If I want Ivy-level education, I can get it for free. I just won’t get really expensive pieces of paper saying that I learned something. I know how to prove what I know, and at this point in my life, I care a lot more about learning stuff than giving other people some generic “proof” that I know some stuff.

That’s not what any of this is about anyway.

Because going to the Ivies was never about superior education.

It was always about social stratification.

While people with Brand Name Degrees spread their ignorance around everywhere, it has been extremely difficult to take any claim to superior education seriously. Evidently, employers aren’t taking degrees all that seriously, either.

There were others doing followup on the original TNR piece, noting how many of the staff went to the Ivies. When you read the originally linked article, you will see that the author talks about getting a minimum wage job to meet a diverse group of people. Mmmmm. Is he saying that the student body of the Ivies is not diverse?

Well duh.

In a discussion at the Actuarial Outpost, one of the people mentioned she went to Harvard, and that’s where she met her husband.

This was my reply:

I think this is one of the biggest drivers for a lot of people. They want a particular social circle, meet an “appropriate” dating pool, etc. If they’re not already in that circle, they think going to the college will make them a part of that world.

Again, my best social circle has come from my high school, for a similar reason as those who go to Harvard/MIT/brand-name school — it was extremely selective. So I got my exclusive social circle in terms of intelligence, and that followed me all over the place. I have made lots of friends from that school who didn’t even go there the same time I did — similar to having gone to the same frat, I guess, decades apart.

My circle hasn’t been too helpful for making money (personally), but it has been extremely useful for getting at information & research of various types.

And here’s the deal. You can’t make people socialize with other people easily.

Yes, there are plenty of people who make it up from the trailer park, or, more often, from a family from a fairly modest, but not poor, background. But the Ivies actually have very little to do with that.

There are specific fields and jobs that draw almost exclusively from Brand Name Schools, but they are an extremely small sector of the world. And they think they are far more important than they actually are.

Yes, they can make the rest of us miserable with their hideous disasters like Obamacare, but that too shall pass. I bet it burns them up inside that the soi disant Brights are not held in high esteem by other Americans.

They claim it is anti-intellectualism, but I see it as plain good sense.

And when the extreme solar storms come, they will be the most helpless. Let us see how your Harvard degree will help you survive the breakdown of the power grid, dudes.

Related Posts
Never Forget: 100 Years Since the Russian Communist Revolution
Divestment and ESG Follies: Mandating Women on Corporate Boards
Taxing Tuesday: Tax-Related Ballot Questions