Is Harvard more prestigious than Oxford

What are the differences between studying at an elite university?

When they hear the word elite university, most likely think of institutions from the USA or England with prestigious names such as Harvard, Oxford or Stanford. But they also exist in Europe, the universities, which are considered to be particularly elitist. The University of St. Gallen, WHU or the Bucerius Law School are definitely worth mentioning here. The most important criterion that distinguishes an elite university is of course a particularly high quality of teaching or research.

As a result, access to study at these universities is reserved for a selected group. The elitist status of a university arises from the extreme selection of students and teachers. Especially in business or law faculties, elite universities are also characterized by good connections to business. In many cases, graduates from these universities are appointed to important positions in large companies or start their careers with extremely good opportunities.

In Germany in particular, the existence of elite universities plays a much smaller role than, for example, in the USA. In the United States, the best and most prestigious universities known as the Ivy League are an almost inaccessible educational path for most students.

How do you get to an elite university?

Access to these universities is extremely limited, as the universities try every possible means to manifest their elite reputation by selecting the best students. An Abitur with 1.0 or a degree that has already been completed is by no means sufficient internationally. With regard to Germany, the situation looks a little different. Because in order to get a place at the best universities in Germany, a very good Abitur and, if necessary, some additional qualifications should be sufficient.

  • Additional qualification for access to the elite university

To study at one of the prestigious universities in England, the USA or France, however, it takes more than that. After all, there are thousands of applicants with good grades, but the universities only have a few places available. For example, you have to demonstrate social commitment or special additional qualifications in order to stand out from the crowd of students with good grades. Furthermore, letters of recommendation from professors or teachers stand out very well in the application.

Sport as an abbreviation?

Above all, US universities are familiar with the affinity for physical activity. Football, basketball and baseball play a much larger role at American universities than in Europe. The universities' own teams compete against each other in large tournaments, the course of which is followed by the entire student body.

Sport plays a big role in the Ivy League, which is made up of the best universities. For this reason, special scholarships and additional study places are given to particularly talented athletes in order to enrich the teams at the universities. So you can use some kind of abbreviation if one of the top universities in the USA is on your wish list. If you have sporting experience or are particularly good at a sport, you significantly increase your chances of getting a university place. Of course, the competition is extremely high here, as a lot of young people can show good performances, especially in typical American sports. However, quite a few German students have already been able to gain access to one of these top universities through their sporting experience.

How difficult is it really to study?

One of the characteristics of elite universities is the high demands that are made in the course. This is actually one of the things that distinguish elite universities from “normal” universities. There is tremendous pressure and constant commitment is required from the students.

At many elite universities, scientific papers have to be written and handed in on a weekly basis - parallel to the courses and exams. Due to a higher learning volume and very high requirements, the amount of knowledge and skills that graduates have at the end of their studies is higher. Whether these will pay off in practice and in later professional life is another question.

What differences are there in everyday student life?

In addition to the requirements of your studies, there are other things that are decisive for everyday life in your studies. The elitist claim of the university is reflected above all in the international clientele that you will find at these universities. Both students and lecturers are usually very well aware of the status of the university and are happy to communicate it to the outside world. Basically, this does not have to be negative, but the representation of the university to the outside world takes place much more through the students and teachers than at other universities.

Wealth is a prerequisite?

When you talk about elite universities, the topic of wealth usually comes up relatively quickly. Students at elite universities are often said to come from a good family and a wealthy family. In general, being rich is not a prerequisite for entering a top university, but there is no doubt that there is a certain connection. In the US and England, this is mostly done because former university students have much better access to study places for their children, so that often entire dynasties are students of the same university. In other respects this leads to an elitist status of the university; than just the quality of teaching or research.

In the USA this is supported once again by the fact that the top universities are mostly privately operated and thus come up with enormous study costs. A year at universities like Harvard or Stanford can easily cost $ 60,000 or more. Of course, not every prospective student or their parents can pay this price.

Elite university - a new construct?

Elite universities are an equally exciting and opaque structure, as there is no precise information about what exactly an elite university is and what distinguishes it. Although the demands are in many cases higher than elsewhere and the effort is extremely high in many places, everyday study life generally differs little from other universities. After all, even elite universities are ultimately just universities that, as the saying goes, only boil with water!