Before 20th century, European countries dominated the world. The finest Universities such as Cambridge and Oxford were found in Europe.
However, because of World War I and II, European countries lost the world dominated power. The world leading power in politics and economy shifted to the USA. The shifts gave opportunity for American Universities to set the highest standards.
Harvard is like a huge cooperation or enterprise that invests in stocks, lands, not only in educations. Harvard's strong power is based on its prestigious name and enormous financial power that make it possible to recruit the established best star scholars in the world to be Harvard professors. The presence of several, but not all, star professors at Harvard is making Harvard almost incomparable unique University.
In addition, Harvard-MIT, both located in Boston, perhaps two top Universities, have exchange programs that add more opportunities.
Learning from top professors naturally gives opportunities to students to be able to stand in the front positions in their fields.
I hate Harvard.
Harvard has prestigious undergraduate, (bachelor's degree), graduate (MBA, MPH, MPA degree etc), professional (MD degree) and postgraduate education. The college, business school, public health school, medical school, dental school, kennedy school have students of incredible educational caliber and many average folk are jealous of them because they couldn't enter any of the aforementioned Harvard schools while only a select few can.
Most end up being successful too, adding more jealousy in the eyes of the average man.
Average folk #2: Doubt you can enter bro. You are just average. You'll never get a Harvard degree, even if your life depends on it. They won't even consider your application.
Harvard alumni in a ferrari: You unprivileged human beings can't enter Harvard. Haha!
Person1: Cornell's hockey team is so badass, they don't even need an example.
Person2: Woah. That's badass.
Harvard University is famous for being known as the Vanderbilt of the north
B: "Nah man, but I got into Harvard University, so I guess I'll be fine. They don't call it the Vanderbilt of the north for nothing!"