A nasty case of the Ivy: The obsession with prestigious universities

Isaac Yebio, Contributor

In high school halls across the country, an Ivy League fixation has spread hellishly.

This year, December 15 marked the release of early admissions decisions for the Ivies, a dramatic reveal of who will be next to fill the esteemed halls of Ivy League universities. High schools everywhere were filled with tears of joy and despair as students found out whether or not they would be attending the school of their dreams.

Getting into an Ivy is a guaranteed four-year stay at one of the world’s top academic institutions, with bragging rights and job offers lined up for those who finish. 

But is the Ivy League really deserving of the infatuation and heartbreak? 

I don’t want to denounce the Ivies or the accomplishments of those who attend them. I’ll admit that these universities are lauded for a reason. It takes a stellar amount of commitment to secure a spot and those who do have every right to be proud. However, we should remember that they are not the end-all-be-all of higher education. You will have a fulfilling educational experience no matter the college you attend. Admission to a highly selective school is not necessarily an accurate evaluation of a student’s capabilities, as decisions are, to a certain extent, random.

The culture that has developed around college admissions is vicious. Many students are constantly in a state of distress over their applications. All eight Ivy League schools releasing their decisions at the same time seems designed to worsen the woes of rejection. I mean, what’s the point? To see which institution can reject the most potential students? It’s painfully pretentious and exists only to create a visage of superiority for those who do get in.

Many students feel enormous amounts of pressure to get into an Ivy, and those who don’t are almost pitied. It seems as though our definitions of success revolve around admission to these eight schools. People’s worth becomes dependent on the level of prestige they acquire, instead of their personal accomplishments and contributions. This discourages creativity and critical thinking. How can we expect students to find personal meaning in their education if they are only motivated to attend a school for its prestige?

A college education should be about more than name recognition. Why don’t we start celebrating students for even having the courage to devote themselves to higher education? It takes an immense amount of work to pursue a degree, regardless of where it comes from. •