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Ivy League - No, we’re not out of your league

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Maybe it's because I'm just a rising sophomore, but I hesitate whenever someone asks me what school I go to. I really shouldn't, it's just that I know what assumptions are going to be made once I say I go to Cornell University, if they've ever heard of it; extremely smart and spoiled rich. And who knows, it might all be in my head and hardly anyone thinks either of these two things, but based off my experience so far I think I might be pretty close. And I really can't blame anyone for their assumptions. I mean before I got into "the Ivy League" that's probably what I thought too. Nothing more than bunch of geeks who spent all their life studying for the SAT and probably have six figures in a trust fund that daddy set up for them upon conception.

Well, there's some truth, some lies. Most schools in the league are very old. In fact, Harvard was the first university in America, followed by several other schools in the league. The actual Ivy league started as a college athletic conference and over time it became the prestigious academic cult it is now. I won't even waste time writing about legacy kids or the small percentage of students of color, or from low socioeconomic backgrounds, but of course, wealth and race are the biggest factors to this league.

What I just hate to see is the clout that students of the Ivy League or other "top tier" schools use to put others down and raise themselves up. Funny enough, one of the first things I truly learned at Cornell is that when looking into the success of an individual, schools don't matter as much as we believe they do.

I know I had to work hard to get to where I am now. I was one of those kids who spent hours studying and was a President or Leader of several clubs and organizations at once. I drove myself crazy to do well in school so I could go to a good college. BUT, I had parents who drove themselves crazier to support me through it. Parents who valued the long-term benefits of education and were willing and able to make sacrifices for me. Parents who pushed me to do extra-curriculars or summer programs, and helped me with my college essays and selections. Not everyone has this privilege, so many do not.

Some parents, and for very good reasons, simply cannot support their kids this way. They can't afford such a long-term investment. They might not even have the luxury of hyper-valuing education. And their kids? It's hard to join after-school clubs when you need to get a job to help keep the lights on in your house and the water flowing. It's hard to even see the potential you have in yourself if your underfunded public education keeps telling you otherwise. Just as it's hard to build up your resume if you can't afford an unpaid internship or don't even have the network and connections to get one in the first place. In all, there are countless more barriers for them. Some of their barriers run so systematically deep, they may not even be apparent to them, but they are there.

So to any of my fellow "top tier" or "Ivy League brats", enjoy your privilege-purchased circle of clout and elitism. Some of you absolutely do deserve it for your hard work, but just remember so many others do as well. You thought a 15% or 3% acceptance rate was competitive, imagine your competition if all of the unreached or underappreciated potentials out there had an ounce of privilege or opportunity.

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