How do you think an Ivy League degree is perceived in the UK?

(39 Posts)
user1468944854 Wed 31-Aug-16 16:29:30

I've been in the UK for nearly 20 years (grew up in a different country), and now that I have kids I'm slowly getting my head around the education system here… state / private / grammar etc etc. I'm from a very academic family myself and my siblings and I all went to Ivy League universities in the US… we weren't particularly wealthy, but we all worked our butts off and got scholarships / financial aid, worked part time throughout, etc. I would love my kids to consider the Ivies or similar when college application time comes around. (Obviously I'm aware it's very competitive and expensive!!)

My question is: say they go to a top-tier US college to do their undergrad degrees and then come back to the UK to start their careers, how are employers likely to view them? Will they see them as on par with, say, the Oxbridge graduates? Higher? Lower? I have a feeling that employers might not be particularly open to Ivy League / American degrees -- that perhaps people are a little suspicious of them, but I might be imagining that.

Anyone with experience of going over to the US for college and then coming back to the UK to find work? Would love to hear thoughts.

OP’s posts: |
RedHelenB Wed 31-Aug-16 17:29:28

Wouldn't it depend on what field they were studying?

Noofly Wed 31-Aug-16 17:34:12

I went to a little Ivy which is very well thought of in the US but unheard of here so I don't have direct experience. However, DS(14) is very interested in an Ivy. I've told him that while I will support him in whatever he decides, my personal view is that it would be far better to do undergrad in the UK and then grad school at an Ivy. I'm assuming your DC also have US citizenship? I think doing that combination would open up far more doors in both countries. My gut feel is that an undergrad Ivy degree here would only be seen as an advantage to a small number of employers.

I could be totally wrong, though. [grin

appalachianwalzing Wed 31-Aug-16 17:34:21

I think it depends very much on to what extent it's a 'name' - I.e. Harvard or Cambridge would get at least as much if not more respect than Oxbridge, but somewhere like Brown might not, simply because far fewer people have heard of it. So some of the ivies people would know about, some which may actually be harder to get into they might not and that could be an issue.

It depends though if you're talking job market or academia. Academia, people would be aware: General job market not so much.

appalachianwalzing Wed 31-Aug-16 17:34:44

Sorry, obvs that should have read Harvard or Yale

bojorojo Wed 31-Aug-16 17:35:58

If it is way more expensive than the top universities here, not sure it is worth it if they want work here. If they get a scholarship and the fees and living costs are virtually covered, then it is worth it. I think a degree from any top 20 university is portable worldwide, so a Uk one from that elite group is just as good. If you prefer a US degree, that is a different matter.

2rebecca Wed 31-Aug-16 17:53:15

I thought American first degrees weren't as advanced as UK degrees. I know for medicine you can only do it postgrad in the USA and engineering masters take longer as well.
My son looked at USA degrees and found them horribly expensive. I think you'd be better applying at pHD level or similar.
I suspect many UK employers couldn't name many Ivy League unis apart from Yale and Harvard.


Bobochic Wed 31-Aug-16 17:56:06

You should do your first degree in the country you wish to live and work.

bojorojo Wed 31-Aug-16 17:56:41

I can name all 7!

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 31-Aug-16 21:11:44

I thought there were 8! grin

OneEpisode Wed 31-Aug-16 21:14:56

I work in a technical field so wouldn't respect a US 1st degree.

museumum Wed 31-Aug-16 21:22:04

My perception is that undergrad degrees from the US are very general and graduates have less subject knowledge than uk graduates.

user1468944854 Wed 31-Aug-16 22:28:49

Thanks for replies - that's interesting. They don't have American citizenship, so their most likely work market is UK and EU (they have both). So on one hand, I kind of feel they should do whatever maximises their chances in the market where they are likely to work. But on the other hand, my US college experience was so f-ing amazing… I would really like my kids to have the same opportunity I had… should they want it, of course, when the time comes.

It's interesting that there is possibly a perception of US grads having less subject knowledge. In my experience that certainly wasn't the case, and in fact one reason I'd like them to go to an Ivy or other top-tier American university is because the courses were so challenging (siblings and I did science btw- undergrad and PhDs). But I'm not trying to start a debate on which is "better", I'm really just trying to suss out how they might be viewed by potential employers.

Doing undergrad in the UK and PhD in the US is definitely worth considering -- if they want to do PhDs at all, which of course, they may not.

Thanks again for the replies so far!

OP’s posts: |
bojorojo Wed 31-Aug-16 22:32:45

Why would they get an Identical experience to you? Don't institutions evolve and there will be different people there. It could be a disaster!

Leeds2 Wed 31-Aug-16 22:35:56

Just dropped off my DD for orientation in the US. We like the breadth of education it offers, e.g. she has to study maths, a language, social science, science, a humanity etc. But that suits my DD as she is an all rounder. If she had a particular interest in Chemistry, Maths, History etc I would've pointed her to UK institutions.

I have no idea how this will be viewed in the job market. Have plenty of friends who work in London who say that they would be impressed by someone going to a uni outside the UK (wherever that was) but no idea yet as to whether that translates into actual job offers.

OrlandaFuriosa Wed 31-Aug-16 22:42:16

I'm inclined to agree with Appalachian. But it also depends in what subjects. If you emerged from MIT with a v specialist degree I'd prob take you like a shot for numeracy related jobs, but I would too if you came from Trinity Cambridge or imperial. I'm not sure I'd feel the same about Smith or Brown.

Needmoresleep Wed 31-Aug-16 22:51:39

For observation of affluent and sucessful London Americans, kids wanting to study humanities go to the States. Those wanting to specialise in science, medicine, economics etc stay in the UK, and aim to move to the States for their Masters.

The status of the College seems very important. However there are then some complaint that the level of say, calculus courses, is sub-GCSE. The big advantage is that you keep a wide reange going and there is scope to take dual majors. Maths and music, or economics and drama, to give two examples. And at good schools both are at a very high level.

Selection methods seem very different. We have heard of DC who have gained places at top ranked American Universities who would have struggled to get an interview at Oxbridge/Imperial and vice versa.

DS would like to do some postgrad in the States (economics). It is hugely competitive. Top British Universities seem more accessible.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 31-Aug-16 23:04:14

You should do your first degree in the country you wish to live and work.

Not sensible advice for candidates able to get into Oxbridge/Ivy Leagues. There is a lot to be said for going overseas if 1) you can demonstrate that there were good reasons why you did and 2) you have considered obvious non-qualifying issues, such as doing a vocational degree that won't transfer.

bojorojo Thu 01-Sep-16 14:46:06

Sorry - my mistake - yes it is 8. However, MIT is not one of them.

horsemadmom Thu 01-Sep-16 15:21:34

Ivy League is- Harvard, Yale, UPenn, Colombia, Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown. They are simply the oldest established universities in the US.

user1471734618 Thu 01-Sep-16 15:24:55

I think most people would be impressed with a degree from Harvard or Yale but fewer would know the names of all them. I would be impressed by any of those (but I studied American history and lit).

Needmoresleep Thu 01-Sep-16 15:32:21

The Ivy League is a football league, no more, no less. Just like the Russell Group was a meeting in a Bloomsbury Hotel.

There are lots of other very prestigeous US Universities: Stanford, MIT, Wharton, Georgetown and State Universities like UCLA. Plus Little Ivies, who offer very good Liberal Arts undergraduate Degrees. Whether an American degree gives you value added depends on what you want to do next. You would normally have a broader education than you might get in the UK, and international exposure. But are these things your employer would be looking for. (Quite possibly if you want to go on and work for an American bank, law firm or tech firm.)

Noofly Thu 01-Sep-16 15:36:19

No, they aren't simply the oldest established universities in the US. Most of them are amongst the oldest, but I wouldn't include Cornell in that group and there are universities that are just as old as some Ivies that aren't in the group. grin

MIT isn't an Ivy, but it's viewed as being just as good, as is for example, Stanford.

Noofly Thu 01-Sep-16 15:36:56

Cross post grin

user1471734618 Thu 01-Sep-16 15:38:39

yes what about eg Bryn Mawr, Bennington, etc...are they Little Ivies?

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