When Did Stanford Join the Ivy League?

Posted by at 8:27AM

It’s that time of year again – internship time. It is filled with hours of technical training and semi-menial labor for temporary bosses. It is (possibly) the first time one is introduced to the full-time 40 hour work week, and the 9 to 5 job. And it is also a time for a bunch of strangers to get a chance to judge you based on where you go to school.

Even if the lines are blurring between Stanford and the official Ivy League schools, its nice to know that Stanford will always look better. Palm trees will always trump winter.

I’m not saying that the judgment involves any censure, but people always get a specific impression of you from where you go to school. And for some reason, the impression our school has been adding to my general persona is “Ivy League.” I say Stanford, and because people consider it prestigious and align it with the Ivy League, they automatically think that Stanford is a member of the group. I have gotten this reception from students and adults this summer. I correct it only half  the time – I’ve seen the interest feign in people’s eyes if I say it isn’t Ivy League without the long saga on what membership entails. I don’t know this for certain, but I think that when I denounce the claim, they think I’m referring to a different Stanford. Some people can’t seem to separate our school from its Ivy League peers. Students at our own fine institution admonish the title. Even though these schools are a country away, we still crack jokes about them at Gaieties. We still feel that being a part of the East Coast through more than a satellite station is somehow bad for our school (I don’t actually agree with that sentiment, maybe because I am from the East Coast and see more of its potential, but that’s for a different blog post). The  Ivy League is foreign to our West Coast mentality and ways. Yet from the outside (and maybe even a little from the inside) I don’t think things are quite as different anymore.

To quote a great orator of our time, Eminem, I (being a representative of our school) think that “I am whatever you say I am.”  For most people, who don’t really think about Ivy League sports and the schools themselves, those words just means prestigious college. Stanford has fundamental differences from the Ivy League in general but these differences exist between the eight schools that form the league. Some people apply to all those schools, in addition to the Farm, Duke and MIT, for similar reasons even if attending Columbia, in the heart of New York is very different from going to Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The league still has snobbish connotations, but like it would be unfair to apply that to Stanford, I think at this point its somewhat unfair to apply it as an umbrella term to those schools as well. I think it is time for etymologists,  and lexicographers to adjust to the times. The term Ivy League means something different now. I was never a Harvard hopeful (I actually only applied to one official Ivy League school), but I’m still not insulted when people accidentally use the phrase to describe Stanford. Considering the possibility that we will be right in their midst if Stanford builds a campus in New York, it’s probably time that Stanford changed its relation to those schools. Stanford will never really be a part of the league, nor will it ever really be close (thanks to that whole country between us thing). When people say Stanford is an Ivy League school, they are wrong, but they’re coming very close to being ideologically right.


5 Responses to “When Did Stanford Join the Ivy League?”

  1. Steven says:

    I’m glad Stanford isn’t part of the Ivy League and actually have always been proud of that fact. I personally regard Stanford and MIT as the two best institutions in the world that are deserving of their own prestige (personal bias) that to a strong degree, I find it an insult to be compared to the Ivy League schools in some case. They are prestigious in their own way but certainly let’s not combined the two.

  2. Maia says:

    The Ivy League is an athletic conference; it’s been expanded to become a sort of umbrella term for eight highly selective, exclusive private schools with reputations for superb academics and research but, by definition, the Ivies just play sports against each other.

  3. Crystal says:

    I understand both comments! I know that the Ivy League is literally an athletic conference and that Stanford stands alone in developing its own merit over time. My issue with both those things is that people aren’t just using Ivy League as an umbrella term for those 8 New England colleges – they’re using it for all top colleges. We can just inform others about what the Ivy League really means, but that stamps everyone outside the Stanford community who thinks this way as in some way ignorant. If they are referring to something other than highly elite New England college (although obviously this is what some people mean. I know a few people on the East Coast who didn’t know where Stanford was located), why would we take insult when that wasn’t their intent? I’m not saying our students should personally adopt the term – but maybe taking insult is too strong of a reaction. It may have reached this point on its own, but Stanford has grown into an elite college that contains long lineages, historical buildings, and esteemed traditions. There’s no way to deny that the all the things that mark the Ivy League status are a little piece of us.

  4. Kevin Perry says:

    I would rather have the aesthetics and great weather than the Ivy League moniker combined with bitter winter anyday!

    Kevin Perry

    Webmaster at http://www.nichemoz.com

  5. Maria says:

    As an outsider looking in (a foreigner, if you may) you can say that I stumbled upon this post because I had the same confusion. I am fully aware of the prestige of Stanford, yet the fact that the Ivy League is like this exclusive club you need to get into, I cannot wrap around my head at the fact that Stanford in all its glory, is not “part” of the club. Of course, being on other sides of the continent will prove to be a big impediment (literally) to this club membership yet even when faced with that fact it… doesn’t fit?

    It could have been easier to say that Ivy League is a group of badass schools regardless of location. This should be called another thing, perhaps. Maybe some centuries from now?


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