What are the differences between studying at an elite university?

For the word elite uni, most people probably think of institutions from the US or England with prestigious names like Harvard, Oxford or Stanford. But even in Europe there are those who are considered particularly elitist universities. The University of St. Gallen, the WHU or the Bucerius Law School are sure to be mentioned here. The most important criterion for 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 select group. The extreme selection of students and teachers creates the elite status of a university. Especially in economics or law faculties, elite universities are also characterized by good connections to the economy. Graduates of these universities are often called into important positions in large companies or start with extremely good career opportunities.

Especially in Germany, however, the existence of elite universities plays a much smaller role than, for example, in the USA. In the US, Ivy League’s best and most prestigious universities are virtually unattainable for most students.

How to get to an elite university?

Access to these universities is extremely limited, as the universities are trying hard to manifest the elite reputation by selecting the best students. A high school diploma of 1.0 or a completed degree is by no means enough internationally. With regard to Europe, the situation looks a bit different. Because in order to obtain a place at the best universities in Europe, a very good Abitur and possibly some additional qualifications should be sufficient.

Additional qualification for access to the elite university

However, to study in England, the USA or France at one of the prestigious universities requires more than that. After all, there are thousands of applicants with good grades, but the universities have only a few places left. For example, you need to demonstrate social commitment or special additional qualifications to set yourself apart from the masses of students with good grades. Furthermore, letters of recommendation from professors or teachers are very well in the application.

Sport as a shortcut?

Especially from US universities, one knows the dedication to physical activity. Football, basketball and baseball play a much bigger role in American universities than in Europe. Our own teams of universities compete in big tournaments, the course of which the entire student body pursues.

In the Ivy League, which consists of the best universities, sports play a big role. For this reason, special scholarships and additional study places are awarded to particularly talented athletes in order to enrich the teams of the universities. So you can use a kind of abbreviation, if one of the top universities of the USA is on your wish list. Do you have sports experience or are you particularly good in a sport, you increase your chances on a study place significantly. Of course, the competition here is enormously high, since a lot of young people, especially in the typical American sports can show good performances. But even so many German students could gain access to one of these top universities through their sporting experience.

How hard is studying really?

One of the characteristics of elite universities is the high demands that are made in the study. This is actually one of the things that distinguishes elite universities from “normal” colleges. There is tremendous pressure and continuous engagement is required of the students.

Thus, many elite universities have to prepare and deliver scientific papers every week – in 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 are higher. Whether these pay off in practice and in later working life is another question.

What differences are there in the everyday life of the study?

In addition to the requirements in the study, other things are crucial for everyday life in the study. The elitist claim of the university is reflected above all internationally in the clientele that you will find at these colleges. Both students and lecturers are well aware of the status of the university and are happy to bring it outside. Basically, this does not have to be negative, but the representation of the university to the outside takes place much more by the students and teachers than at other universities.

Wealth is a requirement?

When talking about elite uni, the topic of wealth comes up relatively quickly. Students at elite universities like the origin of a good home and a well-to-do family. In general, wealth is not a requirement to go to one of the top universities, but there is no doubt that a certain connection can be made. In the US and England, this is mostly because former university students can get much better access to study places for their children, so that whole dynasties are often students from the same college. This leads in other aspects to an elite status of the university; as only the quality of teaching or research.

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

Elite Uni – a new construct?

Elite universities are an equally intriguing and opaque construct, with no precise information as to what exactly an elite university is and what sets it apart. Although the claim is in many cases higher than elsewhere and the effort is extremely high in many places, the study routine in general differs only slightly from other universities. After all, even elite universities are only universities that, as they say, boil only with water!

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