Differences between ivy league and community colleges
Everyone has heard of Harvard. The myth stands tall in an ivory tower looming over people’s perceptions of their futures; Harvard is so famous that it is far more than a university. Harvard is part of the Ivy League, which is actually a collegiate sports conference comprising what are arguably the eight most prestigious private schools in the United States: Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Penn (The University of Pennsylvania), and Cornell. These schools are famous for their centuries-long histories, the historical leaders they’ve produced, their cutting-edge research, their cut-throat admissions, and of course, their jaw-dropping tuition price tags. Many people take it as a given that once someone gets into the Ivy League, they’re “set for life.” It cannot be denied that rubbing elbows or at least playing beer pong with tomorrow’s leaders will build one’s network in a way that is hard to rival. On the other hand, increasing numbers of accepted Ivy Leaguers are turning down admissions offers due to sticker-shock at the $50,000+ price tags.
At the other end of the educational spectrum are community colleges. In the United States, these educational institutions – also known as junior colleges or technical colleges – have largely open enrolment. In some ways, they have become community centers, as they now teach basic skills, ESL, vocational topics, and even personal enrichment classes such as art. Unlike traditional four-year schools, these colleges generally have no dorms and often cater to the scheduling needs of working students. But don’t write off these schools – community colleges mint very successful people too, and some Ivy League grads don’t go on to fame and fortune. For example, some famous community college alums include Walt Disney, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, former Congressman Jim Wright (who, in true politician style, resigned in disgrace due to the savings & loan scandals), perennial presidential candidate Ross Perot, actor James Dean, journalist Jim Lehrer, actor Clint Eastwood, director George Lucas, Billy Crystal, and, of course, Sarah Palin, to name only a few. Humbler and more bare-bones than their Ivy League cousins, community colleges are great places to get prerequisite classes out of the way or explore courses in a few majors you can’t decide among.
Complicating things still further is the fact that in between your local community college and Harvard lie thousands of high-quality educational institutions, each of which would love to have you as a student (and would love to cash your tuition checks). Whether you pick Princeton, Harvard or Nowheresville Community College, what you get out of your education and network is proportional to the effort you put into it.
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