Originally Posted by dave333
Theoretically it doesn't; you probably won't get that much of a better education at an Ivy League than a state school if you work hard and do your best.
The difference between the top schools and the lower-tier schools is not so much what they teach you in class but who you're competing against. Remember that at the Ivy League schools, everyone else around you is also a superstar who has gotten nothing but A's their entire lives. So since grading is on a bell curve and only around 20% of the students can get A's, everyone will be fighting tooth and nail to get that A. And these are some very smart, hard working, and motivated people you will be competing against for that A. This forces you to have to study that much harder, and as a result, learn a lot more than if you were at a school with a less than stellar student body where you don't have to work as hard to get that A. If the competition isn't that intense, you can pretty much cruise and do well at a lesser school.
It's like the difference between winning the US Open and winning some small futures event in Kansas. Who's the better player? Federer or someone ranked #300 in the world?