Now would be a good time to dust off that Ivy League degree

columbia graduation 2009

That's me and my blurry friends at our Columbia graduation in 2009, completely unaware of the employment shitshow that comes with a liberal arts degree in a recession. (Photo courtesy of Amari Hammonds!)

In a story yesterday, CNBC.com asked a question I’ve been posing on my blog for the past year and a half: Are Ivy League diplomas still worth the price of admission?

Newsflash #1: You can get the same education elsewhere. But according to the article, when it comes to getting a job, your smartypants brand name can’t be beat.

“When an employment recruiter looks at an Ivy League degree, they will usually look at it more carefully,” says Elena Bajic, founder and CEO of Ivy Exec, an online executive job search site. “An Ivy League education makes a candidate stand out, even before a recruiter talks to them.”

Woopsies! Guess the experts aren’t quite familiar with this blog or any of these guys. And instead of interviewing any actual Ivy League graduates who would put a dent in their theory, CNBC.com (via USA Today) continues to cite outdated reasons the high-profile name alone is so successful.

“Senior execs like to hire within their circle. And companies like Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, McKinsey, BCG, Bain and others continue to put a preference on Ivy League grads because they see them as intelligent and driven,” Bajic says.

Ooooo, I see. The Ivy League cred works if you want to go into finance or consulting. Why didn’t you say that in the first place, silly? That’s nothing we humanity majors don’t already know (and are reminded of every time our cheap Ikea sheets help us cry ourselves to sleep).

Newsflash #2: It’s all about the networking, you guys. Because only smart, overprivileged Ivy League grads help each other out!

“From an undergraduate perspective, the primary advantage of Harvard or Yale is the connections that college creates between the students and their peers,” Eberman explains. “Those connections can be quite valuable over time when it comes to jobs and salaries.”

And apparently, the over $160K $200K debt pays off because your salary starts off higher than those losers with other degrees.

Depending on a graduate’s degree, the lowest median starting salary for an elite eight ranges from $49,400 for Brown to $59,600 for the University of Pennsylvania.

According to one study, that’s about 32% higher than a graduate at a non-Ivy League, liberal-arts school.

Hm, except for those of us who graduated in a recession. Frowny face! But obviously, the best part of our gold-dusted Ivy League diplomas is going to school with douchebags like this:

“We’re constantly told that we have been selected because we are better and special,” says Stanley, who will graduate with a double major. “This gets instilled in our brains from the moment we enter Yale.”

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9 thoughts on “Now would be a good time to dust off that Ivy League degree

  1. Your degrees are gold-dusted?! Jealous.

    But then again, I guess that diminishes their usefulness when you run out of toilet paper.

  2. Very few ivy league grads actually graduate with anything close to 200k in debt. The financial aid programs at all the schools are exceptional and if you couldn’t pay the full cost out of pocket, the school would most likely give you a grant to cover most of it.

  3. That is blatantly untrue in my experience. Depending on your FAFSA, you could get some kind of grants to cover some of the expenses, but a full ride is very hard to come by unless you’re living in poverty or close to it. Do you have stats to back that up?

    • Indeed, Ivy Institutions are 100% need-meeting institutions. This means that they will cover the cost of attending up to 100% through a combination of grants and Federal student loans. (Federal student loans are capped at $15k-$20k/year.) Some Uni’s, (like Princeton), will cover the full amount with grants (no loans). Columbia uses loans, unless you are a superstar in which case they meet the entire need with grants.
      Official poverty line is something like $12k/year. If your household makes <$30k/year and have no significant assets then you most likely qualify for a 'full-ride'. Thing is very little people from <$30k/annual households make it to the Ivies.
      This info is about 7 years old and from first-hand experience for the following:
      Barnard, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, Georgetown.

  4. Aneleyshu- College students in general yes, but Ivy league? Every single one of them meets 100% of demonstrated need and most of them offer full-ride scholarships to families making under a certain amount each year (60k in the case of my own school, and practically free for anything under 6 figures)

  5. I don’t think “ivy” schools are much different in price than other private schools, are they? Columbia any different than NYU or Pace?

  6. Anon, all families are struggling with the exorbitant price increases at most universities, Ivy-League or not. Even a family making 100K can’t necessarily cover a 250K tuition without putting their mortgage or retirement security at risk. Yes, it’s pretty clear-cut for any household making under 6 figures but for everyone else, college still carries a steep price.

    John, you’re totally right. Some of the most expensive schools aren’t in the Ivies, which just happens to be my focus for personal reasons. See related links below for stats:

    Avoid these schools unless you have at least $400 million in the bank:
    http://ivyleaguedandunemployed.com/2009/11/04/10-colleges-you-should-avoid-unless-your-last-name-is-rockefeller/

    10 colleges you should avoid unless your last name is Rockefeller:
    http://ivyleaguedandunemployed.com/2009/11/04/10-colleges-you-should-avoid-unless-your-last-name-is-rockefeller/

  7. I think the point was that an Ivy League degree doesn’t automatically assure you freedom from unemployment unless you were one of their Legacies to begin with, and only in certain fields. Princeton, for instance, has a school of Education but their graduates of that program will compete with Rutgers’ and other various State universities in the area for the New Jersey public school teaching positions that are dwindling every year and getting more and more competitive, even if you’d majored in Math or Physics at Princeton. In certain fields employers act like they’d actually prefer a State university or even community college graduate over an Ivy Leaguer as if those easier-to-get-into schools actually, get this, TEACH more of the things the workplace wants. I’m constantly bombarded with sentiments like that in parts of the country where they may not have a very good State school to begin with….you know, Middle America where all the JOBS are these days. Just sayin.’

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