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Power of eight
The Ivy League refers to eight private colleges in the north-east of the US. The eight - Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia, Brown and University of Pennsylvania - are among the oldest colleges in the US. Seven of them (excluding Cornell) were founded before the American War of Independence.
Ivy League originally referred to an athletic meet between these colleges. The sporting nomenclature stuck and today refers to the institutions themselves. Harvard, the oldest (founded in 1636), is also the richest. Its endowment of $27. 5 billion is bigger than the GDP of countries like Jordan and Tanzania. The youngest is Cornell (set up in 1865) with the largest student body (14, 000).
It approximately costs about $50, 000 (Rs 22 lakh) annually to put your child through an Ivy, inclusive of tuition and living expenses. While it helps to have a lot of money, cash alone doesn't get you through the door. The extremely tough admission standards, (acceptance rates are typically below 10 per cent) and their emphasis on well-rounded students make for a tiny, elite pool of student bodies.
As Nandu Madhava, an MBA from Harvard Business School, says, "The first thing that sets the Ivy League and schools like Stanford and MIT apart from other US colleges or top-tier Indian ones is the admission process. It's rigorous and not scorebased. They are not looking for just academic excellence or raw intellectual horsepower but for people who are innovative and creative. These colleges draw the best not just from India but from across the globe, so you really are competing with the best in the world. "
Sumana Dasgupta, whose son Rohan went to Yale University's School of Law for a three-year undergrad course last year, says that apart from the international exposure, an Ivy League education also guarantees a great placement. "A law graduate from Yale or Princeton will get a much better job than one from the best law university in India because of international contacts and more exposure, " she says. Sumana and husband Barun, both banking professionals in Kolkata, have been saving up since Rohan was in junior school because it was their "dream" to send their son to a foreign university.
Inputs from Shrabonti Bagchi and Jaideep Mazumdar.
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