Educational Dilemma: Ivy League vs. Community College


Labeled for Reuse under the Creative Commons. A beautiful water front view of Elliot House on the historic Harvard university campus.

The first day of college may, by far, be one of the most daunting experiences an individual can undergo. An overwhelming majority of students encounter so many new feelings and witness a great deal of uncertainty. Yet, along with a combination of emotions comes the concept of becoming independent, managing finances, and reverting back to learning difficult material.

Amongst the numerous colleges in the United States, every student goes through this intimidating experience whether it be a prestigious ivy league or a small-scale community college.

Yet, this contrast between schools establishes an indisputable educational dilemma. Is attending an ivy league more beneficial than a community college? 

The answer to this question could be interpreted in a variety of ways amongst some individuals’.

However, whether an individual attends a respected ivy league school or a local community college,  respect must be given to any individual who intends to further their education. Taking that initial first step to advance their education and better their understanding of the surrounding world is so admirable on their part. 

Yet, what factors limit where an individual decides to attend?

One initial factor that comes into play is yearly tuition and financial aid. Prestigious ivy league schools can cost upwards of $50,000 for yearly tuition without taking into account textbooks, housing, or even dining expenses. In contrast, though, attending a community college is significantly less expensive, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, and can ultimately be free in certain circumstances.

After researching numerous colleges and universities across the country, sophomore Chloe Riggs has discovered that while attending an ivy league school may provide a unique learning experience, attending a community college is not a bad option either. 

Most people would have to move across states to join an Ivy League school, however, with community colleges, you wouldn’t have to move at all, which is better for some people. Community college also gives you time to figure out what you want out of life without having to go into debt for the next ten years,” noted Riggs. 

There is no question that attending any college or university is expensive. However, another aspect that is often overlooked is the stigma that opposing students have for one another.

Society has established this stereotype that ivy league students are the embodiment of intelligence and success, whereas community college is inferior since it provides students with an inexpensive route to further their education. No matter where an individual attends they should never feel ashamed of their identity and their circumstances, as Sophomore Orrin Jones has realized. 

“But people should be proud regardless of what school they should attend, it is your choice and you should be proud that you’re getting an education. Nobody should ultimately be shamed for going to a community college because, at the end of the day, they are still pursuing a higher level of education,” exclaimed Jones. 

Without a doubt pursuing any form of higher education can be beneficial for an individual. Whether an individual obtains their GED, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or even a Ph.D. in the future, success can be earned by any individual. Sophomore Karis Plankeel has determined that future prosperity is not dependent on what school you attend, whether it be an ivy league or a community college, but is simply based on someone’s willingness to strive for success. 

“I think that a student can be successful at any college because any experience in something is better than none, and even if they do not get their dream career position or career choice, it may help them get another career because I think that going to any college shows that a person has some grit and is willing to work hard,” stated Plankeel. 

When the time comes, making the decision to attend a respected ivy league institution or a local community college, numerous factors come into play such as yearly tuition expenses, financial aid, and a high level of future uncertainty. Yet, no matter what route students decide in the future, I challenge all to pursue a higher level of education and challenge themselves academically.