Harvard, Harvard, Harvard

October 8, 2006 at 6:51 am 16 comments

Posted by Luke

With the recent move by Harvard College to drop its early admission policy, and Princeton and University of Virginia (another fine institution; a member of the “public Ivy League” consisting of the College of William and Mary, Miami University of Ohio, University of California, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Texas at Austin, University of Vermont, and University of Virginia) blindly following suit a week afterwards, Harvard has reestablished its mantle as the best university in the world.

Therefore it’s time to talk to you about the power and prestige of Harvard and not selling yourself short during college admissions. I’m sure some people may disagree with my assertion of Harvard’s preeminent position in world academia, but let us be realistic. Harvard is the institution to which all other schools are measured. Harvard has the name recognition all schools would kill for and although it might not be the strongest school academically, its power in name alone allows it to lord over all the other institutions of higher learning. Harvard alone is given the freedom to do what it wants without radical repercussions. This is evident in the fact that it single-handedly ended a 30-year American college institution while other schools have petitioning for years against early action in vain. Even in the Ivy League Harvard is known to be “better” than the others. When Brown controversially decided to allow all classes to be Pass/No Pass, there was a shit-storm raining on all sides of Providence while Harvard has inconspicuously implemented even more radical policies with nothing but admiration from the academic world about how much of a “trend-setter” fair Harvard is. That being said I want you all to seriously consider applying to Harvard if nowhere else. Harvard may have the lowest acceptance rate in the country (and it can since it’s “Hahvahd”), but if you get in you will be on the easiest and most prosperous track life has to offer you. People are so blinded by the name “Harvard” on a resume that they fail to see how well, or poorly, you did. There is an old hypothetical situation where a man with straight A’s from Cornell and a man with “gentleman’s C’s” from Harvard apply for the same job. The man from Harvard is given the job right away. Why? Because Harvard is Harvard and that’s the end of that. No other college can compete with Harvard in the name game with the possible exception of Princeton or Yale, which both still lag behind Harvard when it comes to international recognition. The point I’m trying to get at is that you should never sell yourself short and settle for a “good” college or a “lower Ivy” (Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, UPenn, and Columbia) just because you might not get into Harvard. There is a reason why people are immediately impressed when they here even a muttering of Harvard whereas most people don’t even know that Dartmouth is a college, let alone a member of the Ivy League. Always try for the best; you owe at least that much to yourself for the four years you’ve toiled and suffered to be in the position you’re in today.

Good luck in the college process. I’m sure you’ll do fine.

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Entry filed under: Academics, Brown, College of William and Mary, Colleges/Universities, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Early action, Early decision, Harvard, Ivy league, Miami University of Ohio, Princeton, Public schools, Regular decision, UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, University of Vermont, University of Virginia, UPenn, Yale.

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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ezra  |  October 23, 2006 at 8:12 am

    Let’s get real. A 2.0 from Harvard is pretty shitty. No way the barely-passing Harvard grad gets a job over a straight A’s Big Red grad. Most people would realize the dumb ass Harvard grad was probably a legacy admit, AA admit, jock, or a lucky bastard, and didn’t really belong at Harvard.

    Reply
  • 2. Luke  |  October 24, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    Please don’t be so naive, Ezra. First of all, if the student got into Harvard, they most likely have connections in the first place, but that’s besides the point. The fact is that most high school students and people in general know only that Princeton, Harvard, and Yale are the best and don’t even realize that Dartmouth and Cornell are even in the Ivy League. By the way, just because Cornell and Dartmouth play football against the Crimson does not put them on the same caliber. That’s not to say that they aren’t fine institutions; in fact, their undergraduate programs are arguably much stronger than Harvard’s since Harvard is more designed as a research institution with most of its time and energy spent on, well… research. Even though they may have somewhat comparable programs, Harvard is on a totally different level of academia. Go up to a person and tell them you’re going to Cornell and then go tell someone else you are a student at Harvard. Their reactions will prove my point more effectively than this post ever could.

    Reply
  • 3. Sam Jackson  |  November 1, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    Please don’t grossly generalize, Luke…

    “most high school students and people in general” only know 3/8th of the Ivy League is in the Ivy League. Hmm. Hmmmmm. I know HYP have the most name-brand prestige recognition, but I don’t think it’s really fair to say that. That has never been my experience out in the world (before I came to Exeter or after).

    But worst, by far– “If the student got into Harvard, they most likely have connections in the first place.”

    …What? What the hell?
    Sure, some. But not “most.” You want to back that up with anything? Something from the last 50 years, please.

    Reply
  • 4. Luke  |  November 1, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    Sam,

    I know you’re insulated in Exeter with your other preppy friends, but by “high school students and people in general” I don’t mean the ones that have the socio-economic clout to send their children to ivy-clad, New England prep schools where they can act like they’re Ivy Leaguers while still in high school, but actual people below the 99th percentile in social-economic status. Let’s face it, of course you have heard of the other Ivies because you live in a social bubble where a majority of the students strive to get into the Ivy League no matter which school it is. Most Americans know of “HYP” only because of their prestige recognition and plead ignorance to the other five because they don’t actively search for the associations that these other Ivies make with the Big Three.

    You are making a logical fallacy through your erroneous “generalization” of the entire American population to your single, prep-school existence. I am trying to describe the knowledge of the average American (preppy or not), which is the very definition of a generalization in the first place.

    To your second point, I am going to have to ask you to not be as naive as Ezra. You of all people should know the connections that occur in preppy America. The fact that you are attending one of the Ivy League feeder schools (it’s common knowledge the association between Exeter and Harvard along with Phillips and Yale) you must surely see first-hand the institution of legacy in New England. Granted, there are a majority of students that get in based on their merit, but you must concede that Legacies still hold major clout in the admission process. Why else do they ask you if you have any family members that attended the institution? And why else would Ivy Leagues like Penn only allow Legacies to do on campus interviews? (See AdmitSpit’s post titled, “As promised, interview specifics for top schools.”)

    The fact of the matter is that you have a statistically greater chance of getting into a school if you are a legacy or are on very good terms with notable alumni. In a school like Harvard where they pride themselves on the dynasties of families that have attended, you must surely realize, and acknowledge, that a number of the students are attending for prestige reasons alone.

    How else could George W. Bush get into Yale?

    Reply
  • 5. Eric  |  November 1, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    Luke,

    I’d have to second Sam’s comments regarding your response above. Admissions at Harvard, as well as the rest of the Ivies, has changed considerably since the Great Gatsby days where legacy meant something to admissions. I’m a Princeton ’90 grad (and was accepted at 5 other Ivies) but didn’t know one Ivy Leaguer.

    As to the power of Harvard’s brand, I cannot disagree. Regardless of their undergraduate rankings, the word “Harvard” knocks down doors. My other activity besides ePrep (www.eprep.com) has involved serving the entire Ivy League through Ivysport (www.ivysport.com), an extension of the Ivy League Conference. Using apparel sales as a metric of brand strength, Harvard beats the rest of the League by a margin of 5 to 1.

    Reply
  • 6. Linda  |  November 10, 2006 at 1:24 am

    Luke,
    Your statement, (“I know you’re insulated in Exeter with your other preppy friends, but by ‘high school students and people in general’ I don’t mean the ones that have the socio-economic clout to send their children to ivy-clad, New England prep schools where they can act like they’re Ivy Leaguers while still in high school, but actual people below the 99th percentile in social-economic status.”) could not be more off base. Most of the people I know who attend Exeter are on part, if not full, financial aid. PEA has an extremely generous financial aid policy. Perhaps people would rather believe it is the “money” that is keeping them from attending a school like Exeter, rather than ability.
    And as for the Harvard legacy stuff, unlike other college applications, Harvard does not even have a space on the application to include any relatives who have ever attended Harvard.

    Reply
  • 7. Charles Smith  |  December 9, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    i hate you

    Reply
  • 8. Tamora  |  December 9, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    This whole discussion is hillarious. I agree with you 100% Luke that people that go to Harvard are pretty much set for the rest of their lives just because of the “Harvard” on their resume. I think it’s sad and really unfair that it gets so much recognition, when academically it really isn’t that superior. But still, I don’t think people should chose Harvard just because of it’s prestigious name when there are so many other great schools with less of a name but that can offer so much more academically. I chose to apply early to Barnard rather than Columbia (although I had the grades for Columbia) because of the smaller Barnard community and student to teacher ratio. Even if I got into Harvard, I don’t think I would have chosen to go there because it wasn’t the right place for me. Harvard students judge each other’s intelligence purely on grades and the Harvard atmosphere is one of “survival of the fittest” for who can get the best grades. I would personally much rather be at a school like Barnard or Pomona where students work together investing in each other’s success rather than compete against each other and compare grades all the time.

    Reply
  • 9. Future Neurosurgeon  |  December 10, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    All of you have good points. However, like most statements, it is not a truth. It is also not all lies. Yes, people with connections will most likely get into Harvard. No, people without connections will get rejected. Many people are accepted to Harvard that don’t have conncections with alumni, or family members; despite the fact that it might help admission into Harvard. I don’t know anyone from Harvard and until I get there, I might never know anyone; but I will be accepted, I’m determined.
    Sophomore with the I.Q of 155

    Reply
  • 10. Taste of Reality  |  December 12, 2006 at 7:05 am

    Luke, join the real world. There are four national publications that rank the quality of american universities (academic rankings):

    1. US News & world Report
    2. The Atlantic
    3. CollegeProwler (see “www.collegeprowler.com”)
    4. The Princeton Review’s “Toughest Schools to Get Into” ranking

    In none of the aforementioned national rankings does Harvard appear at the top. In fact there is no natioanl ranking publication that puts Harvard in the nation’s top spot. If you want to rank Harvard on its ability to market itself, well that may be another matter.

    Reply
  • 11. aj  |  December 18, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    “The point I’m trying to get at is that you should never sell yourself short and settle for a ‘good’ college or a ‘lower Ivy’ (Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, UPenn, and Columbia) just because you might not get into Harvard. There is a reason why people are immediately impressed when they here even a muttering of Harvard whereas most people don’t even know that Dartmouth is a college, let alone a member of the Ivy League. Always try for the best; you owe at least that much to yourself for the four years you’ve toiled and suffered to be in the position you’re in today.”

    Uh, NO. I agree with what Linda says–you don’t necessarily owe it to yourself to attempt one of the name-brand colleges or universities. You DO owe it to yourself to choose a school where you will have a spectacular four years, with an environment tailored to YOUR particular learning needs. Have some common sense, PLEASE.

    Reply
  • 12. M  |  February 26, 2007 at 4:19 am

    It’s true that the name Harvard will help you get a great job after college. However, after the first month of a job, you are evaluated on your performance, not the school you attended. In regards to coasting through life after graduating from Harvard, that is false. The only Harvard graduates who do that are ones with enough connections/money. Additionally, other Ivies, such as U Penn’s Wharton school, lead their students to the fast track in the business world. Non ivies such as MIT and Cal Tech have much better engineering programmes than Yale. Hence, if you are not sure what you are interested in, then Harvard is arguably the best school to attend. Yet, if you have an idea which field you are interested in, Harvard is not necessarily the best choice.

    Reply
  • 13. Jeff  |  March 27, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Found your post linked from the UNC page (weird?) on http://www.mychances.net/ . I’m intrigued at how enthralled you are by Harvard.

    It’s too bad that the actual data doesn’t back up your statements (by data, I mean income statistics). In fact, prospective studies show that attendance at an Ivy, including Harvard, doesn’t correspond with increased income throughout life vs people with similar scores who did not attend Harvard.

    Eric – Ivysport is not an extension of the Ivy League conference, but way to blow your ego out of proportion. Harvard sales can be explained by the ungodly number of people who attend (not just undergrad, not just grad+professional, but also Harvard EXTENSION school).

    Reply
  • 14. Devin DeBacker  |  April 10, 2007 at 1:26 am

    “71% of grades given out at Harvard are A’s.”

    And that was the result of the conservative study. Sounds like grade inflation to me. Not only that, Harvard undergrad is more name than education and academic challenge – you can understand that after talking to a Harvard undergrad for 5 minutes.

    Reply
  • 15. marina  |  December 1, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    As a currently “sought after” student by the institution, and NOT rich or white, I greatly disagree with all of these ideas that all Harvard kids are affluent people with great connections.

    Although I am uncertain that I will be able to get in myself, I have met many Harvard students who are kind, involved with the community (I live almost next to Harvard) , and actually very very smart. In fact, most people I’ve met do have something that sets them apart from the kids at other schools.

    Harvard does recruit students, encourage all local students who are interested to apply, and take MANY students from my public city high school. They even offer a “free ride” to anyone whose parents earn less than $60,000 annually.

    Think twice before believing all generalizations about the more sought after Ivy League schools.

    Reply
  • 16. Frank Scanlan  |  December 6, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Miami University graduates and students, please visit this site:
    http://scanlanf.googlepages.com/home

    Miami University Hamilton is a joke and needs reformed badly to rescue the reputation of Miami University.

    Reply

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