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Is Ivy League Grad as Prestigious as Ivy League Undergrad?


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#1 Begrette

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 09:08 PM

I was accepted to several colleges that have reputable and highly ranked graduate programs in education. Three of the colleges that accepted me are Ivy League, sharing spots in the "USA Top Ten Education Schools."

Just a little background info, though: I didn't attend an Ivy League school as an undergrad, so I'm very honored by their respective offer of admission. But I'm concerned about the competitiveness of getting into such a "prestigious" school and program as a grad student. I wouldn't feel right if I humbly told people the name of my Ivy League alma mater knowing it was much easier to get into its graduate school.
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#2 Begrette

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 11:30 PM

Would people be willing to reply if I rephrase the question this way:

"Is it easier to get into an Ivy League's graduate program than its undergrad program?"
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#3 ktel

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 01:07 AM

Why does it matter to you so much?
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#4 Begrette

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 01:22 AM

I'm curious as to why members are using the thumbs down function to denigrate my concerns. Such behavior only serves to promote the Ivy League stigma. FYI: My intention was not to offend anyone personally, emotionally, or intellectually.

KTEL,

I want to understand the process of undergraduate and graduate admissions. How does one gauge himself or herself against the undergrads at a top tier institution? Is it comparable when both types of students were admitted to the same university? I couldn't find a definitive answer after scouring the internet, so I'm asking here.
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#5 ktel

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 01:34 AM

I think people are offended because it seems like your only concern is whether or not you can brag about being accepted into an Ivy League school.
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#6 Begrette

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 01:49 AM

Wow. When you put it that way, it sounds as if forum members are quick to judge. I'm merely curious about whether an undergrad's acceptance is comparable to the acceptance of a grad student at the same university. Regardless of classification, does his or her acceptance to that university carry the same weight?
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#7 Physwimic

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 02:12 AM

In my opinion, the "ivy league" brand name matters little in grad school. To the general public, it matters a lot. Particularly if the ivy you are talking about is Harvard or one of the other well known ones. The name recognition gets you a lot of bonus points when you tell friends. And if that's why you're going to grad school, then by all means choose the most widely known ivy. Inside your field, people will be much quicker to consider the reputation of the school in the field. While some big name schools carry weight in the academic world (and the ivies often fall into this category because they often have excellent programs), personally, I think if you are trying to judge how "well" you did in the application process, you are much better considering if you got into a top ten vs. top 100 program. This being said, I would caution you to remember that a huge part of grad applications, at least in the more academic fields, seems to be random. While getting into a top program marks you as a good candidate, not getting in doesn't necessarily mean you suck.

As for clout in grad vs undergrad degrees, I think by choosing to go to grad school, you have already placed yourself in a tier above most undergrad students, and this is largely irrespective of where you go. At the end of the day, I'd place a lot less importance on the ivy league name and just choose the place that offers the best fit for you personally. Forget about what other people think; that isn't important. What is important is that you are happy.

Finally, before other people jump down my throat for posting this, I will say that I have a ugrad degree from an ivy, and chose not to go to an ivy grad school after being accepted to one. My decision was based on what I said above. Draw what conclusions you may...

Edited by Physwimic, 25 June 2012 - 02:19 AM.

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#8 Begrette

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 03:49 AM

Yes, I am analyzing the selection process to assess my overall performance. Basically, I'm confused by the ranking system. There are ranks for national universities, graduate schools, grad programs (e.g., education), and "specialties" (e.g., education administration and supervision). What's more important in terms of admission: the program or the specialty? If one's "specialty" isn't ranked in the top ten, what does that imply about the program itself?

And, competitively speaking, what if one's specialty is a field that most people did not want to research at that particular university? Did he or she get into the program because not many were seeking admission for that specialty? Could such a situation occur at an Ivy League school, meaning that one was admitted to the university on account of a more lenient selection process, a selection process more lenient than its undergrads and other graduate programs (e.g., business)?

I prefer not to get into a discussion about the benefits of attending an Ivy League school (i.e., increased salaries, better jobs, and so forth). People in other forums have argued that topic ad nauseam, which is a vastly different issue than the one I'm trying to figure out. Just so everyone knows, I based my decision on faculty, location, and the history of the campus. I didn't even know that some of the schools I initially applied for were Ivy League.

Perhaps I should also point out that my friend attended one of these universities. I told him about my acceptance to his school, and he commented that getting into that particular Ivy League university was easier at the graduate level. Admittedly, it was a pretentious thing to say, but his statement sparked my curiosity.
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#9 victor.s.andrei

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 07:40 AM

I prefer not to get into a discussion about the benefits of attending an Ivy League school...


The two biggest benefits of getting into a prestigious school are one, getting access to that school's people network - students, faculty, alumni, and so forth - and two, using the school's reputation and brand as part of yours.

Keep in mind that the first benefit can be achieved merely by having friends and colleagues in the prestigious school's people network.

The second benefit doesn't matter if your personal brand is garbage.
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#10 Begrette

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 08:58 AM

The latter part of your post, was it meant to be sarcastic?

Could you also comment on the prominent issue explained in post #8?
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#11 OregonGal

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:03 PM

I would say that the program ranking matters the most within your field; the university ranking matters the most to the general public. For example: in my field Johns Hopkins is one of the best graduate programs for International Policy. That will help you in terms of easily conveying what kind of training you had, to fellow IR/public policy professionals. However, if you told random person on the street you went to Johns Hopkins they might ask you if you're a doctor (what they're more generally known for) or how you liked Baltimore (the public policy school is actually in DC).

Program rankings are generally a good indicator of that program's brand, networks and rigor and what I personally think you should be paying the most attention to, if you want to go to graduate school in order to maximize your training/expertise/job prospects within your field.
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#12 Eigen

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:55 PM

You're trying to compare apples and oranges.

Undergraduate admissions, degree of competitiveness, prestige, etc. with graduate admissions. The two are not similar enough to compare, imo.

As was pointed out above, just getting into any decent PhD program puts you a step above most undergraduates at any institution, so trying to compare whether it's more "prestigious" to have gone to Harvard as an undergraduate or graduate is rather a moot point, and kind of a silly comparison.
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#13 ghanada

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 10:27 PM

To address your questions about competitiveness, it is generally much more difficult to get into ivy league undergrad than graduate. Obviously there are lots of factors, but really it comes down to the numbers. For instance, Harvard's undergrad acceptance rate was 7.2% this year. Now, compare that to whatever grad program you are looking at, and usually the acceptance rates are a bit higher than 7%, and depending on the department, the acceptance rates are WAY HIGHER. So if you look at it like that than you could say the average student applying for Harvard undergrad will have a lower chance than the average student applying for the PhD program.

Now in general, like others have said, the ivy league name will only really impress family and friends. You can be sure the people within your specialty all know the rankings of said specialty. So they will not be impressed by ivy league names if they know that the school isn't ranked well.

I was actually in a similar situation deciding on where to do my PhD. I narrowed it down to an ivy and a public school. For engineering ivies aren't particularly strong, with only Cornell barely reaching the top 10. So whenever I asked friends/family about advice it was always bias towards the ivy. However, anyone in engineering I talked to (colleagues, professors, advisers, etc) all respected the public school much more and could care less about the ivy school.

ok with that all said, when you asked about how to base your decision, if you are looking at research-based degrees (particularly PhDs) than your #1 priority should be research fit. Forget about rankings, prestige of school, location, etc. It comes down to the work you will do for your PhD and whom you are doing it with.
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#14 Eigen

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 10:37 PM

Undergrad % acceptance rates are really, really bogus though. Most universities have a variety of ways to quasi-artificially inflate them, just so it can look like they're more selective.

Also, prospective undergrads (at least the higher tier students) apply much more broadly to schools. Most prospective grad students are likely to be a lot more focused in their search and subsequent applications.
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#15 Begrette

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 12:39 AM

Compelling arguments.

So the varying acceptance rates of grad programs are "competitively separate" from the holistic admissions process of our undergrad counterparts. However, being accepted as a graduate student doesn't insinuate that one's acceptance to the same university is less deserving. On the contrary, there aren't that many people who choose to get an advanced degree, so the applicant pool for graduates is comparatively smaller. When one factors a program's rank, its applicant pool size, and the experience of each applicant into the equation, he or she could argue that gaining admission into a "prestigious," top-tier graduate program is significantly harder than enrolling as an undergrad. Therefore, it's incongruous to assert that a program's paradoxically high acceptance rate means it's easier for someone to be offered admission as a graduate student. That's because the pool of applicants for us is much smaller and more experienced. Consequently, if the graduate student decided to apply as an undergrad, his or her application would theoretically outshine the applications of those who were inexperienced; thereby "stealing" a spot in the undergraduate class. (Duh.) I'd be very interested in testing out this supposition.

But I suspect acceptance rates for graduate programs may change in the future. As more and more people want an advanced degree, the applicant pool for graduate students will expand and subsequently lower the acceptance rates for many of these programs. A larger, more diverse and qualified applicant pool will mean a harder time for those aspiring to study at such top-tier programs. This is already evident in business and medical.
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#16 ghanada

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:36 AM

Undergrad % acceptance rates are really, really bogus though. Most universities have a variety of ways to quasi-artificially inflate them, just so it can look like they're more selective.

Also, prospective undergrads (at least the higher tier students) apply much more broadly to schools. Most prospective grad students are likely to be a lot more focused in their search and subsequent applications.


sorry, I was trying to make a very general quantification for competitiveness between undergrad and grad. I specifically said the AVERAGE applicant for each, meaning if you just took the middle level applicant from both pools respectively, the middle level applicant for the grad program would probably have a statistically higher chance of gaining admission than the undergrad applicant. I understand that that grad programs have fewer, but more qualified applicants than at the undergrad level, but still it gives some basis for comparison.

I really don't want to take anything away from those attending ivy league grad programs or those that got acceptances, just getting in is a serious accomplishment and should not be overlooked. But for example, in my field (engineering) I would not be particularly impressed if you got into Harvard. I would, however, be impressed if you got into MIT.
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#17 Begrette

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 05:17 AM

But for example, in my field (engineering) I would not be particularly impressed if you got into Harvard. I would, however, be impressed if you got into MIT.


True. More than likely both students and employers look at the same websites.

By the way, do you have any comments for my post (#15)?
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#18 ghanada

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 01:54 PM

True. More than likely both students and employers look at the same websites.

By the way, do you have any comments for my post (#15)?


My previous post was in response to your #15 post. I was trying to validate why you can statistically say why a grad student has a "higher" chance of acceptance over an undergrad student.

But keep in mind it really depends on each school, degree, department, etc. I have had a number of friends (>5) get into the Masters (and complete it) in Educations at Harvard (HGSE). They all agree that it wasn't particularly competitive or hard to do. I also know their backgrounds are strong, but not like "OMG you are a genius" level. And compare that to getting into Harvard for medical, business, or law school and things completely change. I don't think it would be hard to argue that getting into Harvard Law is more impressive and difficult than getting into Harvard undergrad.

Like I said before, I go into a fully funded, generous stipend ($33k/yr) ivy program for my PhD where the school is ranked in the top 15. However, I don't consider myself an amazing applicant and I am DEF not anywhere close to the "OMG you are a genius" level at all. I'm more than thankful and appreciative I got in, but at the same time I don't think getting in was any harder than getting into the undergrad program, relatively.

But here's the thing: WHO CARES??? There are no hard facts either way to 100% quantify in a precise way what the subjective "competitive difference" is. Whether you get into an ivy for undergrad or grad, just be happy and pat yourself on the back for the work you have done to achieve that. Seriously, it is a validating accomplishment no matter what me or anyone around you says.

Anyways, I am not sure as to why you are stressing about this so much. Why do you care so much about what other people think? Especially since you are in education I would imagine you must be pretty selfless and devoted to bettering our country with little praise and reward for your efforts. Why do you care if some people consider your ivy degree as a tiny amount less prestigious than undergrad? If one of the ivy programs is your best fit, than go there and don't look back. Nobody will fault you for picking the best career move for yourself.
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#19 edgirl

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 12:58 AM

If you're talking about master's programs in education, it is significantly easier to gain admittance to Ivy ed schools than it is to earn acceptance to the same schools' undergraduate colleges. (We're talking acceptance rates of less than 10% compared to rates of 50%. Not close.) I went to one Ivy for undergrad and a different one for a master's in ed. The two pools of classmates were quite different.

In any event -- and more importantly -- pay attention to the folks here who have questioned your motives for asking. Why bother comparing yourself to the hypothetical "average" applicant (hint: there is no such person)? Focus on the program that's the best fit for you. I'm assuming you were accepted to Columbia, Penn, and Harvard, since those are the three Ivy ed schools. They're very different schools, and they have very different strengths. If you're making the decision on name recognition alone, you may well end up unhappy. Are you interested in classroom teaching? Something else? What you want to get out of your program? Where do you want to work afterwards? These should be the questions driving your decision-making -- not ones about selectivity and impressiveness to random folks outside of academia.
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#20 Germany2012

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 10:23 PM

May I interfere though I do not know much about Ivy league schools ? I attended OSU for 9 months which was rather the same level as in Germany, as foreigners we had some extra-rights, so it was easy.

In my (Germany based) opinion it matters in the US which university you attend more than here, much more, and even here people make a difference, when they cannot decide. Prestigious (public) schools (here) are for example known for harder exams than no-names. I don't know how this is in the US but ...

For the master the kind of university/department is certainly more important than for the bachelor. No matter what is easier to get in.

If I was your potential employer I would think, oh, he has improved, he is a winner and mordent.

I love a girl from Ohio university (not Ohio State university). They are excellent, truly excellent in networking compared to us here, but the academic niveau is below everything.

At least they know how to deal with social media, but it's not a life-long quality qualification as on a school with higher scientific prestige.

We say: Many ways lead to Rome.

My German school became an "elite university" recently (which means it's one of 11 in the country with the best future concepts and some excellent clusters).
People who have not studied at all regard me differently since that day. But they don't decide.

Decision makers will respect every higher university.

Edited by Germany2012, 08 July 2012 - 10:28 PM.

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