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How snobbish are the Ivys???


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So this is exciting! I never thought that in this life I would apply to an Ivy League school. As a European, we only really hear about them; we never go to them. We stay on our side of the Pond and watch the Facebook movie and Gilmore Girls (and did you hear about this Admissions movie with Tina Fey?) But it so happened that my research interests (medieval European lit) developed in a way which led me to apply an Ivy League school because the professor I would love, love, love to work with is affiliated with that Ivy school. Yup, it's Harvard.

 

My best friend goes to the same school and it would be great if I could join her. 

 

BUT!!!

 

I have heard things. Things about friends changing to snobs, not wanting to socialize with 'non-Ivy' friends anymore. 

Apparently Ivys change you, turn you into an elitist snob and make you an entirely contemptible person.

 

How much of that is true? How much of that is prejudice? How much of it is insecurity?

 

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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I see where you're getting this from, but in my experience, 99% of the time this is not the case! (I mean, look at Rory... she's actually a nice person, and she went to Yale, right?) Yeah, you'll run into the occasional snob, but they exist in every school. 

 

I think most people realize that going to an Ivy League school is not just about merit, but also about money and other factors. I know plenty of people who got into Ivies but ended up going to schools where they were offered scholarships. I've known a few people at my Ivy undergrad to be intellectually snobbish, but that might just be my discipline, and certainly isn't constrained to the Ivy League.

 

Basically, I don't think you should worry about this. Of course Harvard has have some elitist jerks, but it's a top-notch school with lots of great people and opportunities! 

 

Good luck :)

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It's always hard to make generalizations about the types of people that you find at certain school: academic institutions are so desperate to paints themselves as "diverse" that there will always be exceptions to any "rule" you try to apply to or create out of a student body.

 

While I wouldn't say that all of the Ivies are snobbish, I would say that many of their students grossly estimate their own intelligences (back! back!--those of you who attended an Ivy league school) based exclusively on the nominal prestige afforded by matriculation into "Harvard" or "Yale" or "Princeton". After I did my undergrad at a non-Ivy League school--at, in fact, a pretty middle-of-the-road Liberal Arts College--I became friends with a group of Yale students, an ended up joining their fraternity (Old School, anyone?). The guys were total party animals--great guys, to be sure, and I made some awesome friends--but not all of them matched up with what you might expect out of an Ivy League student. A couple of them were total geniuses, but most of them were kids of average intelligence whose parents had put them through the proverbial wringer throughout high school so that they could get into an Ivy League college. Graduate students at the Ivies seem to be a lot more humble, probably because they don't have the energy to sustain the braggadocio carried around by undergraduate population.

 

These, of course, are generalizations based on limited experience; but, let's not invalidate it simply because my sample set is so small. Just offering my two-pence.

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I'm sorry but this is a silly question. You go to a grad school because it's a place for you to do the work you want to do, not because you saw it in a movie and it looked cool. People at the ivies are just people, and at the graduate level they are serious scholars who worked hard to get where they are. You'll find snobs everywhere. Being a snob is not exclusive to fancy name schools.

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I should add that the OP's comment really smacks of a lack of awareness regarding the relevance of Ivy institutions to graduate work. While it is certainly true that most of the Ivies will offer, arguably, a greater wealth in terms of resources and perhaps opportunities, it is definitely not necessarily true that an Ivy department trumps non-Ivy departments--whether in terms of faculty strength, job placement, or other metrics. This is true for all disciplines. 

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As an Ivy alumna and with decent knowledge of other Ivies, I would say it varies greatly by school. 

 

Also--yes there is a certain sense of entitlement (admissions are hellishly competitive) but that's true of any good school, really. 

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As someone who has no actually experience with ivy league students, I can't really answer this question. 

 

BUT, I am going to point out that even though there may not be "snobs" in the ivies as much as we think, there is definitely a class difference. I heard a great interview with John Oliver, and he discussed how he was accepted to Oxford but it was miserable for him because of the class differences. No one was mean to him, there was no bullying, or the like, but he did speak to feeling left out. Also, he said it's hard to be around kids from upper-crust families when your family is not, no matter how nice they are to you. 

 

So long story short, I agree with donthate that it's not really important, but just for the sake of conversation and because I find class differences an interesting field of study, I think that the ivies tend to admit students who come from these backgrounds. Not totally, but, yes, majority-wise that's who is in the ivies. And I do think that this is something to consider when deciding which schools to attend. I don't think it should even come close to making you not want to go to an ivy, but because the world is not black and white, a or b, or the like, it is worth talking about that this is something to consider. 

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I think the class differences are much more pronounced in ENGLAND where Oxford is located. I mean they still have a ROYAL FAMILY for christ's sake. American has no aristocracy. If we did, it would include Kanye and Kim Kardashian and it would be a total joke. I personally believe that a lot of "class" in this country is about education, so if you prevent yourself from getting an Ivy-league education because you're afraid of feeling left out by class difference, then you're really screwing yourself over and reinforcing class difference. Self-segregation is a terrible, terrible thing.

 

I am not from the "upper class" by any stretch, my great-grandparents were running from pogroms when they came to this country and my grandparents lived in poverty on the lower-east side. My parents became professionals through good old-fashioned education and I am currently in that middle-class gap which doesn't benefit from financial aid. So I'm on a loan right now. I went to an Ivy-league undergrad and an Ivy-equivalent Master's program. I'm not a snob. I am a bit of a picky mofo, and I don't put up with weak-mindedness. But that has nothing to do with my educational "pedigree," that's just who I am. I'm an intellectual bitch. And I appreciate other people being hard on me because I think it makes me smarter.

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I'm a masters student at Oxford right now and I haven't really run into any class issues. I think class divisions are more obvious/prevalent at the undergraduate level. As a graduate, you're surrounded by tons of international students from a huge range of backgrounds, many of whom are on scholarships either from Oxford or their home countries, so their personal wealth is not such an issue. At our orientation they told us that 65% of their graduates are international, so it's a pretty mixed bunch. I've encountered some arrogant people here, but no more than I did in my undergrad in North America. Tuition is certainly high if you don't have any scholarships, though it's not high compared to unfunded degrees in the US. The only glaring money/class issue I can think of is how many expensive events there are here that you can go to, such as college balls and that sort of thing. But you can definitely do a ton of stuff and have an amazing experience even without such events since there are a million free (or very very cheap) lectures/seminars/parties/etc. So, that's just my personal experience. My impression is the undergraduate and graduate experience is extremely different here. And a lot of it is what you make of it. Sure, you'll find arrogant people. But you can just ignore them and find your own crowd instead. I imagine the same is true at Ivies.

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I think the class differences are much more pronounced in ENGLAND where Oxford is located. I mean they still have a ROYAL FAMILY for christ's sake. American has no aristocracy. If we did, it would include Kanye and Kim Kardashian and it would be a total joke. I personally believe that a lot of "class" in this country is about education, so if you prevent yourself from getting an Ivy-league education because you're afraid of feeling left out by class difference, then you're really screwing yourself over and reinforcing class difference. Self-segregation is a terrible, terrible thing.

 

I am not from the "upper class" by any stretch, my great-grandparents were running from pogroms when they came to this country and my grandparents lived in poverty on the lower-east side. My parents became professionals through good old-fashioned education and I am currently in that middle-class gap which doesn't benefit from financial aid. So I'm on a loan right now. I went to an Ivy-league undergrad and an Ivy-equivalent Master's program. I'm not a snob. I am a bit of a picky mofo, and I don't put up with weak-mindedness. But that has nothing to do with my educational "pedigree," that's just who I am. I'm an intellectual bitch. And I appreciate other people being hard on me because I think it makes me smarter.

 

 

Class difference is noticeable in the UK, but not more so than in the US. The classes just 'look' different, and have a different history. Having said that, class is very noticeable in Oxford and Cambridge. There's just no getting away from that. It's probably a bigger deal at undergrad than grad level, but it is a 'thing' and it is something that could make someone's experience there miserable. (It depends on your attitude, individuals in question and the college that you're at.)

 

I know academics who hate going to give papers in Oxbridge because of how they're made to feel by some sections of these Universities. That being said, as with everything you should take other people's perceptions with a grain of salt.

 

Personally, I purposely stayed well away from Oxbridge because I don't like the way that there is indirect class discrimination there. Oxbridge like to say that they will recruit the best and brightest no matter their background, but the real truth is that kids from regular schools often can't get in because they haven't had the coaching, the small class sizes, lessons in communication etc. The grammar tests (in foreign languages) that some colleges present for undergrad admission are at a higher level than A-level. No regular state school has provisions to help their pupils learn that stuff.

 

This all being said - this is a bigger problem than Oxbridge, this is about the UK's schooling system. However, Oxbridge do not like to seem to acknowledge that there is an issue here. For them grades are not enough, personal statements are not enough. They want interviews, tests etc. I know for a fact that many private schools and grammar schools actively coach students for these things. State schools don't. On top of all this is the issue that (and I don't have figures for this) but I'm sure the Scots, Irish and Welsh, and Northern English are underrepresented because they don't generally have as many private schools and there are greater socio-economic problems. This doesn't even touch on racial issues. It's a complex problem that does have something to do with class, but its roots are probably within secondary education.

 

I can't speak about Ivy Leagues. I would imagine there can be similar problems, but my perception is also that there is great difference across the Ivy Leagues and possibly much difference within them too. As a grad student I wouldn't think about this at all. You're in an entirely different situation. Yes, there's also going to be a socio-economic trend, but the further you advance through your education the more this seems to fade away, especially these days. I may end up in one, and I'm definitely what you'd call 'working class', but I have no hang ups about it and I'm not expecting to be surrounded by "royalty" of any kind! Just people who have worked really, really hard. You can't fake it into grad school. 

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I think the class differences are much more pronounced in ENGLAND where Oxford is located. I mean they still have a ROYAL FAMILY for christ's sake. American has no aristocracy. If we did, it would include Kanye and Kim Kardashian and it would be a total joke. I personally believe that a lot of "class" in this country is about education, so if you prevent yourself from getting an Ivy-league education because you're afraid of feeling left out by class difference, then you're really screwing yourself over and reinforcing class difference. Self-segregation is a terrible, terrible thing.

 

I am not from the "upper class" by any stretch, my great-grandparents were running from pogroms when they came to this country and my grandparents lived in poverty on the lower-east side. My parents became professionals through good old-fashioned education and I am currently in that middle-class gap which doesn't benefit from financial aid. So I'm on a loan right now. I went to an Ivy-league undergrad and an Ivy-equivalent Master's program. I'm not a snob. I am a bit of a picky mofo, and I don't put up with weak-mindedness. But that has nothing to do with my educational "pedigree," that's just who I am. I'm an intellectual bitch. And I appreciate other people being hard on me because I think it makes me smarter.

 

Another true American success story: quick to speak and admittedly a bitch.

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I'll toss another anecdote onto the pile: I have heard many stories about someone's best friend from high school who went to Columbia and is, like, a total jerk now, and soooo not my friend anymore. For realz.

 

Instinctively, I believe those who say it varies greatly by school. Every institution has its own distinct culture. And by and large, I think assholes gon' ass no matter where they are.

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I'll toss another anecdote onto the pile: I have heard many stories about someone's best friend from high school who went to Columbia and is, like, a total jerk now, and soooo not my friend anymore. For realz.

 

Instinctively, I believe those who say it varies greatly by school. Every institution has its own distinct culture. And by and large, I think assholes gon' ass no matter where they are.

 

Yeah, good point. Personally, I only became an asshole after I got laid-off and did too much acid.

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I think the class differences are much more pronounced in ENGLAND where Oxford is located. I mean they still have a ROYAL FAMILY for christ's sake. American has no aristocracy. If we did, it would include Kanye and Kim Kardashian and it would be a total joke. I personally believe that a lot of "class" in this country is about education, so if you prevent yourself from getting an Ivy-league education because you're afraid of feeling left out by class difference, then you're really screwing yourself over and reinforcing class difference. Self-segregation is a terrible, terrible thing.

 

I am not from the "upper class" by any stretch, my great-grandparents were running from pogroms when they came to this country and my grandparents lived in poverty on the lower-east side. My parents became professionals through good old-fashioned education and I am currently in that middle-class gap which doesn't benefit from financial aid. So I'm on a loan right now. I went to an Ivy-league undergrad and an Ivy-equivalent Master's program. I'm not a snob. I am a bit of a picky mofo, and I don't put up with weak-mindedness. But that has nothing to do with my educational "pedigree," that's just who I am. I'm an intellectual bitch. And I appreciate other people being hard on me because I think it makes me smarter.

 

I'm fairly positive I specifically stated that this shouldn't keep one from trying, but that it's more an issue that one may face when going to an ivy league school. 

 

I also find it dismissive that you would conclude how everyone feels about class based upon your own experience. I'm very glad that you haven't experienced anything of the like, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen to other people. You make a good point about hard work and being pushed, and I think everyone should try their hardest when it comes to school, but that doesn't mean it's always a cake walk and everyone is super happy about every single aspect of the school they attend. I think class differences do exist in the academia and especially when we venture into the ivy leagues. It's very dismissive to state that people shouldn't feel the way they do when it comes to these types of topics. 

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That doesn't mean it's always a cake walk and everyone is super happy about every single aspect of the school they attend.

 

This is always true, school is difficult and there are going to be problems. I'm sorry if I sound dismissive. I just find it a bit frustrating that everyone wants to accuse Ivy league schools and the people who attend them of being snobs/elitists/privileged. Some people are, sure. A lot of people just attend Ivies for the excellent education they provide. Believing that Ivies are bastions of snobbery makes them into that.

 

Graduate programs are very different from undergrad, also. They are much more diverse (in terms of nationality, as well as undergrad background). They are much more focused and serious. If you find a great program and it happens to be Ivy-league I think it's ignorant to believe everyone in it will be "snobby."

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