4 Reasons Why We Should Stop Obsessing About Ivy League Universities.

We Should Start Looking For A Good Fit, Rather Than A High Rank.

Photo from Unsplash/Vadim Sherbakov

1) Choose your university depending on what you want to do.

The member universities of the Ivy League are often praised for being academically unrivaled. However, is this still true today? There are several lesser-known universities that certainly rival the likes of Harvard and Princeton in certain fields. Looking at the US, universities like Vanderbilt University and Caltech (and, of course, the famous MIT) are likely much better options than Harvard if you want to study engineering. The University of Chicago will provide you with much better education for economics compared to the likes of Brown. While Cornell does well for engineering, The George Washington University might be a better choice for medicine.

2) Be critical of rankings.

Many times people will tell me “but Ranking X and Y say Harvard is the best university in the world.” While it certainly has an amazing brand name, don’t let the rankings mislead you. According to QS rankings, Harvard has the best business school in the world. Amazing! But Looking at The Financial Times ranking, Stanford has the world’s best business school. And as claimed by Times Higher Education, yet another ranking platform, MIT has the best business school. Again, no school is “the best” for everyone.

3) Consider the opportunity cost

In many countries, people can attend university at a significantly reduced rate, perhaps even for free. For instance, the Dutch government subsidizes roughly $18,000 per student. This means that students only pay $2,000 in tuition fees. In more extreme cases, such as in Finland or Norway, students can attend university completely free of charge!

4) It is NOT a Golden Ticket to an easy life

Yes, it’s true. They weren’t lying. It really does help when your CV says “Harvard University” or “University of Oxford”. This, however, does not mean that every Harvard graduate “makes it” in life. It might help you secure a certain position, but after that, you will have to work just as hard (or even harder!) as everyone else. If you can’t do your work well, your boss couldn’t care less about your alma mater.



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Adam Rybko

MSc Development Economics @ LSE. I’m a high-achieving graduate student who writes about productivity, university admissions, and financially smart collecting.