Originally Posted by Falls City Beer
Connections tend to be the tiebreaker in most cases for undergraduate admissions; they aren't the essence of admission to schools like Harvard, believe it or not.
And by the time you reach grad school, connections are even less meaningful a criterion towards admission. You're judged largely on your skills and accomplishments as well as the niche you occupy in your particular field.
My advice: go to a solid state school, bust your arse, then apply to a bunch of Ivies (and Ivy Lites like UVA, UChicago, Stanford) for grad school. Your job prospects will be nearly as good as if you'd gone to an Ivy for undergrad.
I think that's true but not exactly. Connections are a less meaningful criterion, but also can be an even more so one. That is, if you have a connection with an advisor at a grad school, that will do a lot for you. But if you are applying to a grad school outside of that, I would agree connections are given less, even if any, consideration.
But your advice is very good and something I wholeheartedly agree with. Going to a good state school and then entering an Ivy is a great way to go. Although that depends also on the discipline. In my field, many of the top 10 schools are state schools, so it does depend on the field.