Average Salary of Ivy League Graduates

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a group of students wearing graduation gown

Average Salary of Ivy League Graduates

The average salary of an Ivy League is roughly $80,000 for a recent graduate, and $160,000 for a mid-career professional, which is higher than the average salary of a typical state school graduate.

When employers view your resume, they look first and foremost at the institution that you attended. Going to a top Ivy League or university will immediately get your resume to the top of pile. Unfortunate to say, but this is the truth, especially for exclusive companies on Wall Street like Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley.

College graduates looking happy while talking in a corner.

Next, comes your major – usually those that are more technical have better odds of getting a job, for example computer science, math, physics, economics, chemistry, etc. These stand a better chance than say political science or English.

This applies more for entry level jobs for fresh college grads. Of course, for more experienced positions, what will matter significantly more is your past experience.

Employers certainly look at the pedigree of your university as a signal of intellect. An employer who views a top tier school like UChicago on someone’s resume would be more interested on surface than say Cal Poly. But once the interview begins, those preconceived notions may go out the window depending on your performance. We’ve always said the main benefit of an Ivy League degree may not be the education you receive, but the signaling effect that opens up so many doors of opportunity.

Most Ivy League graduates will go into investment banking or consulting. So the investment banking crowd will work at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, while the students interested in consulting will work at McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, etc.

But we’ve also seen many graduates flocking to tech – Google, Apple, Facebook. Why?

A group of students sharing their works

The hours are better, you get free food, and you have a normal living life. More importantly, one can argue that the work is more rewarding. Investment Banking hours will slowly grind at you (9AM to 11PM on average compared to 9AM to 5PM for tech) and eat away at your health. There is a lot of value in investment banking and I think both tech and banking prepares you for both the technical and business challenges that every company faces.

At AdmissionSight, we’ve sat on both sides of the coin and there really isn’t a right answer. If anything, we recommend that students do banking/consulting but only enough to gain the experience (less than a year) before making the move to tech. Both provide excellent preparation and critical thinking skills for your career.

Does attending at top 10 school increase your probability for job prospects, venture capital funding, and open doors that signal to others that you’re smart and capable? We would say for the most part, that is true.

But is it necessary for success? Absolutely not. There are many successful people who never attended a top school, such as Steve Jobs and many including Zuckerberg and Gates were dropouts (though you can argue the Harvard dropout stamp had some degree of signaling effect).

A woman holds a pen while looking sideways

You can also look at the founder of Ring app that was acquired by Amazon for $1B – Jamie Siminoff, whose grit and hustle got him to where he is – without an Ivy League degree.

So while a top 10 school degree gives you a slight leg up when it comes to success, it definitely isn’t a requirement and I would say other factors such as leadership, communication, drive, motivation, hard work, strong intuition and clarity of thought etc are much more important when it comes to success.

Your future is determined by the work you put in and your drive/commitment towards excellence. We’ve seen some of my peers who went to top universities and end up with nothing. Not necessarily homeless, but let’s just say after getting into a top university their efforts paled in comparison to the ambitious individual they were that allowed them to get accepted in the first place.

So a top-tier university, while it opens up plenty of doors, does not dictate or shape your future. Ultimately you are the one who has control over your destiny so don’t be one of those people who hide behind their fancy degree thinking that the future will be handed over to them. Because we can tell you that certainly isn’t the case – and maybe, you might even end up homeless.



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