With the advent of college admission season comes the annual discussion of Ivy League domination of the snobbery department. Many colleges boast of having a large number of high school students apply in order to be rejected, the Ivies revel in this category. They are the “go to” schools for unpleasant rejection letters. Most Ivy correspondence begins with words like “sorry” or “unfortunately.” The admission departments try to make you feel sorry for them. They are so overwhelmed with over qualified applicants that no one could adequately pick among them. After admitting all those with surnames like Ford, Vanderbilt and Firestone, choosing among all the others is quite difficult.
Attending Harvard, Yale or Princeton is an expensive endeavor. Most people would need to mortgage their house, kids and cars to afford the annual price tag. Those parents with the means to pay, although griping about the cost, often pay the tuition and other fees with a smile on their face knowing that their child is receiving a first rate education backed up with a host of quality contacts for employment roulette following graduation. The Dartmouth’s, Columbia’s and their brethren deliver admirable employment statistics after graduation and first rate graduate and professional school admissions.
Although Ivy League snobbery fits into a nice and neat mental box, the actual admission statistics do not reflect snob domination. These schools know that most families cannot afford them and offer generous scholarships to all who are admitted and do not have the means to pay. The schools determined years ago that offering admission to only the well healed would cause a brain drain. Keeping up appearances, as well as academics, requires a constant flow of worthy students. The financial aid offered is substantial. For instance, 60% of those admitted to Princeton will receive some form of need-based financial aid with the aid package averaging $38,000.
These colleges have giant endowments which allow them to spread the wealth. Princeton, Yale and Harvard rank as the top three colleges based on the amount of endowment per student. Each boasts well over $1 million in endowment per enrollee. While other colleges may struggle to make ends meet, these schools struggle to find enough adequate investment vehicles for their large store of funds. The schools regularly push hard on alumni to keep the funds rolling into college coffers. Each one regularly engages in large scale capital campaigns for the benefit of the school. No alumni stone is left unturned in their efforts to raise money. The schools are just as good at raising money as they are educating students. Both missions are important to a continued influx of young talent.
While the admission season will bring up complaints of the Ivy League domination of the snob category, the schools will continue to admit the best and the brightest students they can find. They will no doubt admit a few legacies with old money names and pedigree. Those legacies help with the continual money collection efforts. Nevertheless, the majority of less well healed students will enjoy a quality Ivy League education in the hopes the college will tap them for contributions later in life.
By William Costolo