Supported by

The Idea File

Why Is America So Obsessed With Ivy League Schools?

Oct 17, 2019 | 16 videos
Video by The Atlantic

We know that elite colleges aren’t the only pathway to elite careers. Yet many parents will stop at nothing to gain their children admission to these highly selective institutions. In a new episode of The Idea File, the Atlantic staff writer Adam Harris investigates the American fixation on Ivy League colleges that led to the Varsity Blues college-admissions scandal. Harris also reveals who really suffers from the hysteria of the college-admissions process, with its attendant misconduct as families try to game the system.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Authors: Catherine Spangler, Jackie Lay, Vishakha Darbha

About This Series

Deconstructing the way we live, with The Atlantic's writers