The Growing Idealism of Ivy League Graduates

Group of executives under a glowing Ivy League Banner

A famous quote misattributed to Winston Churchill goes: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”

That might not be the case, though, when it comes Ivy League graduates. These noted alumni may not be more liberal, in a conventional sense. However, a recent study—conducted by the Ivy League Magazine Network in collaboration with qSample—reveals they are quite the idealists. That’s certainly a reflection of the socially responsible Millennials whom qSample also researched.

With a median household income of over $190,000 and a median net worth of $900,000, Ivy League graduates are a uniquely influential and affluent demographic. This data ought to make them appealing to marketers. If their views move towards that of the forward-looking yet also economically-influential Millennials, the entire marketing industry should pay heed.

qSample surveyed readers from the eight Ivy League Magazines. The online study consisted of data collected from more than 1500 survey participants—all graduates of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Yale.


Idealism in Healthcare


As an example of an idealist bent, specifically in the holistic attitude popular today, a larger number (88%) of Ivy League Grads state that eating right is essential for good health. Additionally, 75% feel that exercise is also conducive to an overall good health. A much smaller percentage (17%) find that using advanced medicine or popular medical brands is key to good health. One doesn’t have to look farther than data from Harvard Magazine, an Ivy League mainstay, to see that a more natural, less intrusive approach to healthcare is a growing trend in the nation.

The following graph expands on the healthcare preferences of Ivy Leauge graduates:


Graphs showing Ivy League Health Habits


 Idealism in Shopping


Does an idealistic outlook already embraced by Millennials and other demographics translate to shopping behavior for Ivy League graduates?

Not exactly. It’s not too far, either. 60% of respondents from the qSample study claim they exclusively buy American products. That’s a relatively high percentage, higher than the 45% of general consumers that buy American products only, according to Gallup. However, this percentage is still in the middle the pack in of the study. Here are the top preferences when it comes to favoring a brand:

92% Stick with a brand once they like it
91% Prefer brands from a company they trust, even if it is slightly more expensive
89% Don’t mind paying for brands that are high-quality
89% Like to compare brands before making a decision
65% Prefer brands that reflect their lifestyle


Idealism in Technology


These days, technology is considered successful not just for its capabilities but also its altruistic qualities. An example would be Google and its mission statement to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It was an almost-graduate from an Ivy League school, Bill Gates, who famously said: “If your culture doesn’t like geeks, you are in real trouble.”

In that respect, Ivy League graduates may not be that engaged with technology, or more like haven’t fully embraced their inner geek. Only 39% of respondents state they find themselves the first in their social caste to purchase new technology, even if 54% said they prefer cutting-edge technology.

These statistics don’t mean Ivy League graduates are behind times when it comes to technology and its benefits. As we reported in our study An Ivy League of their Own:

Over 75% of respondents are active on social media.  Facebook and LinkedIn are the two most popular social media sites among participants, with 60% on Facebook and 56% on LinkedIn. However, usage of social media varied from panel-to-panel with Brown Alumni more like to use Facebook (69%).

Moreover, when it comes to mobile devices:

Over the next 12 months, 76% of participants own or plan to purchase a smartphone and 70% own or plan to purchase a tablet computer. Among smartphone users, iPhone and Android operating systems are the most popular operating systems with 63% of respondents using iPhones and 20% Android.


Idealism in Life


The true measure of the idealism of Ivy League graduates is clearly reflected when asked about their guiding principles in life. At equally in the 99% mark in preference, these were the top ten:

Honesty: being sincere, having integrity
– Knowledge: being well educated
– Authenticity: being true to myself
– Learning: continuing to learn throughout my life
– Enjoying life: doing things because I like them
– Curiosity: wanting to explore and learn about new things
– Helpfulness: making the effort to assist others
– Working hard: always giving my best effort
– Open-mindedness: being broad-minded

Below that, friendship followed (98%). At the bottom of the list of guiding principles were Ambition (69%) and Social Status (37%).

One could argue that being socially responsible requires the ability to take a risk (as Bill Gates and others did). Ivy League graduates seem to have that inclination of risk taking, according to the study. They’re not all about “playing it safe” in all aspects as with their cars. This sensibility is illustrated in their vacation patterns—as a vast majority (68%) enjoy traveling to new destinations. 60% plan to travel outside the country this year for pleasure. In fact, when surveyed about general attitudes on life, 88% say they enjoy trying new things.

This graph presents the vacation preferences of Ivy Leauge graduates:


Ivy League Graphs on Vacation preferences




Will this data translate into socially responsible actions by Ivy League graduates?

It already has, it appears. 77% say they volunteer in their community, with 43% doing so on a regular basis.

These takeaways at the very least dispel the notion of Ivy League graduates as stern agents of the status quo, or as simply being interested in their pursuits. They appear to be part of a more socially responsible society, starting to tap into their inner geek.

Interestingly enough and going back to the mentioned quote, one historian claimed that Churchill had “been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35.”

In other words, Churchill would likely have felt in good company with today’s Ivy League graduates.


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