Ivy League or Liberal Arts College?

Are you a top student? Are you looking at Ivy League colleges, thinking you need to pay top dollar to get the best education and advantage possible? Before you get in line to apply for MIT or Harvard, you’ll want to take a look at some of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges, which may give you an education equivalent to that available at an Ivy League college – but in an intimate setting that is less competitive and less stressful.

The Ivy League Colleges

Not sure who the Ivy League players are? They are as follows: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. Although not part of the original eight Ivies, the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Duke are also considered in this “league,” referred to by some as the “Little Ivies.”

The Top Liberal Arts Colleges

The following are some of the most lauded liberal arts colleges:  Williams, Carleton, Amherst, Haverford, Middlebury, Grinnell, Wellesley and Pomona. These colleges offer top of the line educations in high style. We’ve taken data from some of these top liberal arts schools and stacked it against the Ivy League schools in this detailed comparison, where you’ll find student opinions on workload, campus environment, and more.

Do the Ivy League Colleges Really Give You an Edge?

No doubt the Ivy league schools have a reputation preceding them, and no doubt it’s hard to get in. However, reputation will only get you so far, and graduating with a degree from Yale won’t guarantee you success.

What if you found out that you could get an even better education, for less money, at a private liberal arts college?

For example, private liberal arts college Williams College of Massachusetts has out-ranked the Ivy League colleges year after year in the Forbes-sponsored annual evaluation of colleges. The study takes into account cost-benefit analysis of college educations, comparing how much students spent for educations, what kinds of job opportunities (and salaries) graduates had after graduation. The study doesn’t look at reputation of the colleges, but rather at the effectiveness and cost of the colleges, as is measured by real students and graduates.

How Could a Liberal Arts College Provide a Better Education Than an Ivy League College?

If you’re an exceptional student, you’ve probably been told all your life that you should try to get into an Ivy League school. What all those well-intentioned advisers were saying is this: you shouldn’t waste your intellect by attending a substandard school.

What they didn’t realize, when giving you this advice, was that many of the prestigious liberal arts schools offer rigorous training, unsurpassed educational opportunities, and plenty of attention. This is especially so in the schools where professor-student ratios are low and research and internship opportunities are high.

Many of the liberal arts colleges expect you to know your professors, work closely with experts in your field of study and to earn your grades with exceptional performance. You might scoff at the idea that class size makes a difference, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a Yale professor doesn’t have the time to carefully grade 600 essays, whereas a Carleton College professor has the time to grade 150 essays, plus offer insightful feedback and guidance during office hours. Professors are people, no matter where they work.

The Big Decision: Ivy League or Prestigious Liberal Arts College?

Only you can decide how much reputation and prestige means to you. If you need the strokes provided by acceptance into an Ivy League College, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re looking for the best education for the best price, you will want to check into the most highly rated liberal arts colleges before making your decision.