Ivy Leagues … Don’t Stress ….

Choose Ivy Leagues! Or not….!

As students around the world enter their young adult stage of life, the conversation of where to go to University begins. For some, that means letting their parents dictate where they go to. For others, it means choosing where to go themselves and applying to go there. However, one of the biggest factors for many students is the question of status and whether or not the University of interest is considered an Ivy League. Beyond that, there remains the question of what their future income is after they graduate. It is believed that the more rigorous the University is, the higher ranked the University is, the higher pay that the student will have post-graduation.


In a survey done by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, they reported, in 2017, only 36.5% of the colleges they surveyed believe that SAT and ACT scores are considered important. Yet, among students and their parents, they highlight the importance of the standardized test scores of students.


As the United States has about 5000 Universities for students to choose from, students commonly limit themselves to the top 10%, 5%, or 1%. What many don’t realize is this means the top 500, 100, and 50 universities respectively. To maximize time and not focus too broadly, we focused on the Ivy League universities.


Using statistics released to the public by the United States Department of Education, we analyzed the average SAT scores and mean income four years after graduation for 6/8 of the Ivy League universities. Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania have been excluded from this a neither had any information regarding the aforementioned variables. As the SAT data used comes from 2012, the data shows the old SAT.

As the public is well aware, to get into these Universities is quite difficult due to a variety of factors. For example; GPA, High School Grades, Strength of Curriculum, SAT, Essays, are all different factors. However, many simply look at the acceptance rate of each University and compare it to their SAT. For example, as far as acceptance rate to SAT cumulative score ratio goes, Brown has a 9.3%:2150, Cornell has a 14.1%:1450, Dartmouth 10.5%:2190, Harvard 5.4%:2255, Princeton 6.5%:2255, and Yale 6.3%:2245. This shows that there is a moderate correlation between SAT scores and the acceptance rate of the University. However, there are still other aspects of the acceptance rate.

With Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, as the public is aware of, you must be in the top 1% of students to attend. Their acceptance rate closely correlates to their SAT scores, but even with the individual SAT scores – Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. So, what does this mean?





These are the divides of how each University’s average SAT score. As shown on the right, the aforementioned top three have a near perfect SAT, yet in the image below, it’s clear that this doesn’t necessarily mean your future income will be the greatest. For example, Princeton has practically a perfect SAT with their top 75% getting about a 790 in Reading and 800 in the other two categories. However, four years after graduation, on average, Princeton doesn’t hold the highest income. That goes to Harvard. Unsurprisingly, Yale and Princeton follow suit behind with Dartmouth and Cornell following after that.


For the most part, when looking at Universities, students often look through a very limited lens. Society tells them to go to University to get a degree and get rich. However, that severely impacts the decisions of many as that becomes what they focus on, losing out on a University they’ll enjoy going to and that makes it worth its value.



In an interview with a graduate student in Hong Kong, she said, “Finding a University that fits you is difficult, but finding one without the influence of our parents and peers is even harder. There’s an expectation that many of us will go to an Ivy League university, but I know someone who applied to all with a 4.0 and 1580 who got rejected by all. There are stories of people not going to University with stable jobs getting paid somewhere in the hundred thousand’s. A University degree doesn’t ensure anything later anymore. People can get paid and jobs through the internet now. The story and the game have changed. It’s not what it used to be and frankly, those in the generation above us don’t really know what the world has become.”





For those who have a perfect GPA and a near perfect standardized test score, an Ivy League University may be the right thing for you. However, for those who don’t, don’t force yourself. The point of University is to learn but to enjoy learning. If an extremely competitive University isn’t the best thing for you, then don’t do it. If it is, go for it. As previously mentioned, the top 10% consists of 400 to 500 Universities. That’s still a lot! For those applying, stand up for your education and your future. Choose where you want to go and what suits you best. This isn’t to say don’t apply to the Ivy’s, just to say don’t feel forced to. There are thousands of other Universities to pick from, don’t limit your options!

Do you feel better about your University selection process? Let us know!



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  1. April 27, 2018 by Alison Selman

    This is a very interesting article which is very applicable to many of us students in GOA. The college process has become very challenging and I think more people need to understand that the “brand name” schools may not be the best place for them.

  2. April 28, 2018 by BBracker

    Well, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a rough correlation between scores and income. Of course, scores do not directly cause income earned as you have suggested, but all the same, it takes some combination of self-discipline, motivation, and time management to achieve high academic performance, and I’m sure those same qualities usually have an impact on one’s career. In fact, one might consider analyzing the value of college as a function of its capacity to develop these character traits. One could even then conceivably compare it to holding an actual job by taking similar measurements.

  3. April 28, 2018 by Tiffany.Shou

    Hey Edward! I’m from the Bay Area in California and our academic expectations here are very similar to yours, where many students feel pressured to attend an Ivy League or a research university at the least. I think finding a school that fits is more important than selecting a “brand name” school. As someone who will be attending a liberal arts college next year, it’s been tough trying to advocate for my decision but I commend you and your work for taking that first step into a cooperative, rather than competitive, academic environment!

    • April 29, 2018 by Edward.Rees

      Hi Tiffany! Thanks! I’ll be attending a University in the Bay Area next year! When I was finding the best University fit for myself, I used an app called the College Selector. It really helped and made it clear which University to attend. I agree with what you mean about advocating for your decision, it’s hard when you have people around you who push for Ivy Leagues and believe if you don’t go to one, you aren’t good enough, but I believe that in some cases, an Ivy League may not be good enough or the best for someone. Having said that, we should talk. I think we share some similar beliefs.

  4. April 28, 2018 by Nakul.Bajaj

    I agree that the culture surrounding college admissions is not healthy right now with so much competition and I think it needs to change. What do you think would be a better way for students to realize that going to a name brand school is not everything?

  5. April 29, 2018 by Esther Bedoyan

    I particularly found your last graph really interesting. A lot of times, the purpose of going to college is for the sake of getting a good career after college, however it was interesting how you showed that what is commonly seen as a college entrace exam, the SAT, does very little in dictating career success after college. Nice work!

  6. April 29, 2018 by Naoya Okamoto

    This gives me a lot of hope for the fact that despite what many say, life doesn’t ride on getting admitted to a highly competitive college.

  7. April 29, 2018 by Jimmy Chen

    Very informative article, and a welcomed one since I didn’t apply to any Ivy schools for similar reasons.

  8. April 29, 2018 by Jason CHen

    I had high ACT and GPAs but didn’t get in :()

  9. April 29, 2018 by Melle.Koper

    It seems like college admissions get more stressful for the admitees every year.

  10. April 29, 2018 by Justin.Chen

    My friend who is currently in his senior year has had a tough time facing the fact he did not get into an Ivy League school despite his hard work. I am glad this article proves that an Ivy league school is not the ultimate goal in life.

  11. April 30, 2018 by Huy Tran

    I think your article is very relatable. I have high gpa and sat but did not get in. Ivy Leagues are not the only options, guys! Great article and data analysis.

  12. April 30, 2018 by Sue Harvey

    Hi Edward. I’m wondering about the Cornell SAT score. Do they not include or require the Essay or something? It seems pretty far off to me – and may need to be looked at more closely!

  13. April 30, 2018 by Ananth J Josyula

    I really believe the whole concept is far too overhyped. Honestly, college should be a social experience. We shouldn’t have to bend over backward, doing things we don’t enjoy for the sole purpose of being accepted into a “top” school.

  14. April 30, 2018 by Cole.Biafore

    I really do like this article. As a Senior attending Georgia Tech next year, I can personally say I did not enjoy the college process. Not because I don’t like the school I got into, but because of how many things you are unable to control when applying to college. In the end, I applied to 7 colleges, and got into 1, which made me a little sad, even though it was Georgia Tech. However, now I realize that even though I think I was a good applicant and I tried my best in the process, theres so many other things colleges have to consider that it isn’t always the student’s fault. Your article really helps to show how holding yourself to a 1% standard is honestly ridiculous and I really appreciate that. It definitely is not something to stress over.

  15. April 30, 2018 by Audrey.Acken

    I also think that this article is very helpful and relevant for GOA students currently in high school, as the application process is getting more and more competitive and it is important for students to realize that they shouldn’t feel forced to apply or pressured to get into to Ivy League or “brand name” schools.

  16. April 30, 2018 by Caroline Creamer

    I really enjoyed you article!! I think it’s super helpful in discussing that Ivy Leagues aren’t the right fit for everyone. I took a Python class at my school last semester and loved it. I’m assuming you used MatPlotLib to make your graphs? You did a great job with it – the graphs look awesome and they really helped me visualize what you were talking about!

  17. May 02, 2018 by Moshe Heletz

    I really like this article, although I don’t agree with everything it has to say. Ivy leagues (as well as the other top hundred universities in the US) generally have far higher earnings than those who do not have college degrees or go to less prestigious universities. Those who go to prestigious universities will shape the future of the country and the world. However, I can agree that Ivy leagues are not the only choice, and for me they aren’t even at the top of the list. It’s mostly just a name for a few schools that are in the same sports tournament. SAT scores do matter, and so do GPAs as well as what you do during your high school career. Also, I think we have to start talking about how much of a scam the CollegeBoard is when we talk about income correlations. Statistically, they might as well just ask for a bank note from your parents indicating how much money they make. Society needs to be changed from a system where lawyers’ kids become lawyers and janitors’ kids become janitors.

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