Introduction

U of T’s Ivy envy

U of T’s Ivy envy

Hello friends and fellow U of T devotees. By the time this is posted, I will be far, far away, in a land not so different from ours geo-politically, nor in climate. They speak the same language there, and by and large do the same stuff. But, for all intents and purposes, I will be worlds away.

That’s right, my northern colleagues, I am venturing to Princeton — one of the eight famed, revered Ivy League schools, and as fetishized as education gets.

A bit of background: as I’ve mentioned, I fell in love with political theory within my Poli Sci & Economics specialist, and I chose a good place to do so. U of T has an incredible political theory enclave within the Poli Sci department, boasting several giants of the field and some very interesting courses. In two of these courses, the profs ended up recommending me for a summer program in the field.

When I looked into it, the program looked incredible: 11 (not-for-credit, all expenses paid) days of seminars, panel discussions and advisory sessions held at Princeton by an independent institute which gathers together faculty from Yale, Harvard and Columbia, to name a few. The application process was a bit intense and I basically thought I had no shot looking at the people who had attended in the past, but I tried and lo and behold, a few weeks later got a very official-looking acceptance letter.

Jubilation! (Skip to 1:52)

Now, I’m ready to head off (or, for you, already there, meta) and kind of freaked out. Almost all the other students come from the Ivy Leagues, with a few wayward kids from NYU and two U of T-ers (myself included). And even though I know U of T is very old, well-respected, prestigious, etc, I read that people are coming from Harvard and feel extremely humbled. Realistically, studying philosophy at U of T is not so different from doing so at Yale, but doesn’t it feel different? If my resume boasted a scholarship from Columbia, wouldn’t it just look more impressive?

And the sweatshirts. What is it about their name that looks so much better on fleece?

Don’t get it twisted, I’ve loved my time at U of T. The profs, combined with the resources I’ve had access to, and the diversity of the community (and all at a relatively bargain price) have been incredible, and I wouldn’t transfer for anything. So, why do we still suffer from Ivy envy?

In fact, U of T’s academic standing is extremely high on an international scale, and our reputation is pretty darn good across the board. Why don’t we have the same puffed-up pride? Are we just too Canadian?

Is it just me that suffers from Ivy envy?

– Liz

5 comments on “U of T’s Ivy envy

  1. Haha I guess you’re not the only one.

    I used to go to U of T, but have since transferred back home to a school of similar, if not greater, academic standing in the US. While many schools undeniably maintain a level of academic excellence comparable to Ivies, the Ivy classification hasn’t been changed from the original eight schools. If U of T was in the US, I’m sure many more articles would include them in the list of New Ivies or Public Ivies.

  2. I suffer from Ivy Envy! In high school, I always believed that getting into an Ivy school was pretty much impossible, and whoever got in must have been blessed by all Gods across time and space…but ever since I came to UofT, and I gotten to know more people who got into Ivy League schools for Masters and PhD programs (and even professional schools like medicine and dentistry), now I know it’s not impossible. I think my current experience at UofT definitely has given me that courage and ability to consider Ivy for grad…that’s one good thing about being at UofT: it might not match up to the fame of, say, Harvard, but it certainly gives you that vision and ambition to pursue greater dreams.

    Also, Liz, I envy YOU :p

  3. I’m of the opinion that Ivy League schools are a bit over-hyped. I do not really believe that attending an Ivy League University instead of UofT would have made me THAT much of a better person. 😉 It is probably a person thing though, because I do not like the idea of being in a culture that considers itself academically superior and exclusive.

    Being of Chinese descent, I have seen and experienced how the legends surrounding the Ivy League foster unrealistic expectations and beliefs in some students and parents (not to sound biased against Chinese culture, but for a lot of Chinese people, academics have been made a huge part of their sense of self-worth). One of my friends seriously thought that getting not into an Ivy League school would ruin her life, so she spent her whole Grade 11 and Grade 12 years studying for the SATs, joining a million extracurricular activities, and not sleeping very much. She got in, though, so I guess that might be a good thing.

    When I first came to UofT, I myself felt so stupid about not having applied to an Ivy League school. I was constantly wondering that maybe I would be learning/improving a lot more at an Ivy League school and, as a student, I felt unworthy and unnoticed and useless. I wallowed in these thoughts and feelings so much that I grew unmotivated and depressed. After I somehow pulled myself out of that hole, I told myself that my self-worth was based on more than what school I went to, and vowed not to be lured by prestige again. 😛

    That is not to say that I think Ivy League schools aren’t good places to be. I just don’t like the feelings of inadequacy they perpetuate in some young students…

    However, that is not to understate your opportunity at Princeton – which sounds genuinely amazing.

    Enjoy your time there, and please be sure to update us on how it goes.

  4. First and foremost, congratulations to you.

    To answer your question, yes, I indeed suffer from Ivy Envy. I attend UofT myself, personally, I feel prestigious just being here and surrounding myself with extremely smart and hard-working individuals. Ever since becoming an UofT student, I have changed my lifestyle drastically, and I feel like being here, I am becoming a nicer, more motivated, and humble individual. If I were given the chance to attend an Ivy League I think that would just be amazing, but I think students at UofT should still cherish the opportunity of being here, because just as many of us suffer from Ivy Envy, many others suffer from UofT Envy. Majority of the population cannot do well in, or even make it to an elite university. So while I am admiring those who attend Harvard and Yale (just to name two), I am still grateful for the gift I’ve been given, and graduating from UofT in two years will always be something that I’m going to be proud of. May not be an Ivy League school, but it is well-known around the world, and in my eyes the Ivy League of Canada.

  5. Ivies were completely out of the question for me right out of high school. Not just for academics or financial issues, but because I didn’t want to be in a private university in the first place. Ivies are well-known for grade inflation, and frankly, they have their fair share of idiots graduating out of Ivies. I’m sure some of you know or have heard of a few. I’ve heard of many Ivy Leaguers saying that doing well is a joke; you only have to stay awake in class to do well. Even if you screw up and sleep in classes, you’d mostly likely still get a C. Ivy League grad students in UofT say that the schools are pretty much the same. You get a solid education either way.

    The competition and cold atmosphere in UofT is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives you a drive to work harder, and it constantly reminds you that you are just one of so many. Even when you’re at the top of all your classes (which is already difficult to achieve), you know that you’re just scraping the bare minimum for med school or other competitive programs.

    Ivy Leagues seem to promote this sense of entitlement. They let students know that someone would immediately hire them in the US for having attended a brand-name school, though a huge percentage of their classes get A’s (RE: grade inflation). But honestly, a top-ranking UofT student (or a student from any other recognized university) may be just as smart as a top-ranking Harvard student. It’s just the elitist atmosphere, the marketing, and all the $$$ you pay, making you think that you deserve everything as if you paid for your degree. That drives me nuts. The money you pay is only for the privilege of attending classes and having a record of what you do. Your degree is your own work, and if you’re not doing research with your prof, I don’t understand how one can even gloat over some Nobel Laureate prof from another discipline just because he’s working in the same university.

    Personally, I’d take a public research university over an elitist, private university any day. If I’m getting a good education, I don’t need a brand-name school to feel fulfilled. It would be a pretty sad life if the name of my school bears a meaning in my existence.

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