Like do students that go to Ivy League schools (or any other prestigous college) actually get a better education than the same student at a state university? Are the teachers at Ivy League schools actually better teachers, or is it just that the students who attend Ivy League schools are just better students?
I suspect that the reason that Ivy League schools tend to produce lots of succesful students is because: 1) They get the best students to begin with, 2) their students have the opportunity to meet other very good students (from wealthy and/or powerful families) and thus tend to be more successful at networking 3) they tend to get better jobs just because of the reputation of their college.
But are they actually getting a better education?
I never had the Ivy League experiance, so I can't comment on the quality of their teachers, but I would assume that there are great teachers at all colleges, and some really bad teachers at all colleges. Sure, maybe Ivy League schools have more "famous teachers, but does being "famous" make you a good teacher? You can find teachers with impressive credentials at every college. Surely every teacher at Harvard isn't better than every teacher at State U. And don't highly motivated and bright students tend to be succesful at most everything they do?
While helping my son to pick his college, I kept noticing that almost every college has a list of highly successful graduates on it's web site. Govenors, presidents, CEO's, Nobel prize winners, actors, inventors, etc. Seems that amazing people come from all colleges, even bottom of the barrel colleges. I also notice that even famous colleges tend to have a lot of failed students also.
Julliard, the world famous performing arts college has a 5 year after graduation success rate of less than 25% (with success in this case being defined as students who find a full time career in their field of study). Thats pretty pathetic that they actors, musicians, and dance students in the world, and less than a quarter of them are able to establish a career that fits their education.
Another thing that I noticed is that the curriculum at prestigious colleges tends to be somewht less rigorous than at state universities. For example, my son applied to U of South Carolina and Furman. Furman is not well known outside of our area, but it is the most selective college in our state. Furman only required 120 credit hours for the same degree that USC required 132 credit hours. And furmans credit hours were easier to come by than USC (like one semester of student teaching yields 16 credit hours at Furman, but only 12 credit hours at USC). Furman doesn't require calculous for my son's major, yet USC does.
Isn't English 101 or Chemistry 102 pretty much the same at every college? Arn't the rules of physics taught by MIT the same rules of physics taught at the community college down the street?
I've got this theory that you could take the student population from Harvard, and put them in the same size non-Ivy Leage college, rename the college to Harvard, and you would have just as many students to become unusually succesful as the "real" Harvard would typically produce.