College Prestige: Cost vs. Value

The time of year for college decisions falls in two general seasons. First is that of the December Early Action (EA) outcomes. Applicants who have applied EA can choose to delay their enrollment decision until May 1, the traditional enrollment deadline. However, they can also choose to enroll immediately, in December, if the early good news matches their first-choice college preference. Being admitted to an EA school in December is a distinct advantage because it tends to remove a lot of pressure and stress from applicants because they now have at least one school “in the bag" and can, if they choose, go on to explore options at other schools, particularly so-called “reach" schools that may lie at or just beyond the applicants' abilities to be accepted.

Reach schools are many times also referred to as “prestigious." I've often had a problem with that term and frequently qualify my use of it by adding a parenthetical comment, as in “Reach schools are many times also referred to as 'prestigious' (whatever that means)." Is there any truth to the “power" of prestige, or is it a cultural myth that appeals to young minds (and many parents), luring them onto the rocks, in a kind of Siren-called response? That's a good question and one not easily answered. When we think of “prestigious" (whatever that means) schools, usually the first ones to come to mind are those of the Ivy League. Can you name all the Ivies and where they're located? Here's a hint:

Princeton University – Princeton, New Jersey

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