I attended a bare-bones state college in upstate New York. The buildings and dorms were constructed in the style of Cement Block Modern. The students were rough around the edges; many were first generation college kids from Long Island or upstate New York. One friend's dad was a cow farmer. Another's dad was in construction. Over the summers, my pals would go home to summer jobs that involved pool cleaning or making pizzas.
Occasionally, I would visit my high school pals who went to loftier institutions. The names of these schools had been proudly decalled onto the rear window of their parents' BMWs. I remember visiting my friend, Sue, at Harvard. A group of guys wearing tuxes strode through the campus confidently. She introduced me to her friends who had famous parents. Everybody looked more beautiful and polished than my ragtag group of friends at SUNY-Binghamton who had perfected grunge-wear a few years before Nirvana.
With the release of The Social Network, many are debating the Ivy League experience. Is Harvard really a land of elite WASP privilege? Nathan Heller at Slate says no and that the movie got it all wrong. Maybe Sorkin overstated the WASP-ish world at Harvard, but there is still something about those schools that breeds privilege. Heather Horn at Atlantic Wire points to a chart that shows that there is a correlation between income and attendance at higher ranked colleges.
Without any direct experience at Harvard, other than a weekend visit or two, I really can't weigh in on this discussion, but I find it fascinating.