Ivy League Schools

What Are The Ivy League Schools?

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The formation of the Ivy League schools took place in 1954 when Division I’s NCAA athletic conference was formed. However, this term dates back to 1933 when Stanley Woodward, a sportswriter, used ‘ivy colleges’ to describe these schools with common athletic programs like football. They no longer limit this phrase to college athletes; instead, it represents an educational philosophy inherent to some of the nation’s oldest schools. 

The schools began way back in the 1960s as a group of top eight athletic colleges in the US. As such, their athletic background made them gain popularity. After these efforts, they began receiving funds from the government and well-wishers.

With the funding, there was a tremendous improvement in academics that made their demand rise exponentially. Thus, today, they are the most prestigious colleges in the US, making the admission process very rigorous and demanding.

The Top Ivy League Schools

Here are the eight Ivy League schools that are well recognized: 

Yale University

It is a research and liberal arts college located in New Haven, Connecticut. It ranks #1 for best colleges to study history with a 4:1 student-faculty ratio and a 93.7% graduation rate. Additionally, George W. Bush, 43rd US president, was an alumnus. Moreover, they have over 1200 science and engineering labs in over 45 degree-granting programs.

If you like music and drama, you could explore the arts at Yale University. It is the first university to offer doctorate degrees in music and drama in the US. Similarly, let’s not forget that Yale University offers one of the best courses in public health.

The University is known for history, social sciences, engineering, mathematics, biomedical and biological sciences, and statistics. 

Harvard University

Harvard University got its charter in 1636, making it the oldest college in the United States. They use more than two dozen university buildings exclusively for scientific research. It has about 100 research centers and thirteen institutes offering highly ranked courses such as medicine, law, engineering, business, and education. In fact, Harvard is believed to produce the best professionals in different industries up to date.

It is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has a 97% graduation rate. Their student-faculty ratio is 5:1, and 76.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students. Harvard ranks #1 for biology studies and political science studies. Furthermore, it has an impressive alumni list, including Conan O’Brien, the Late night talk show host.

Princeton University

Founded in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the US. It is home to state-of-the-art laboratories and libraries. Therefore, Princeton is one of the best research universities in the US. Above all, it offers top-notch teaching and learning resources.

Located in Princeton, New Jersey, it ranks #2 of the best colleges in America to study political science and public policy analysis. With a 5:1 student-faculty ratio, graduates benefit from working closely with faculty. Consequently, it has a 97.6% graduation rate with an alumnus like Jeffery Bezos, the Amazon founder.

The popular courses here include engineering, social service, public administration, social sciences, computer and support services, information sciences, and biomedical and biological sciences. 

Columbia University

It is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Columbia University has three undergraduate colleges offering engineering, General Studies, and Applied Science, among others. In fact, it was the first higher learning institution to be chartered in New York boasting several academic centers, 22 libraries, over 200 laboratories, and many research institutes.

Columbia has a 95% graduation rate and ranks #1 for America’s Best colleges for philosophy. They offer a variety of areas of study. Their student-faculty ratio is 6:1, and Barack Obama is one notable alumnus.

Dartmouth College

When you think of IT gurus, you think Dartmouth College. Many IT students like this college because the programming language (BASIC), originated here. The university offers the best tech courses and is a leading college in computing innovations. Furthermore, it has other professional courses like business, medicine, arts, engineering, amongst others.

Dartmouth, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, is rated the #1 school in New Hampshire with a 96.4% graduation rate. The student-faculty ratio stands at 7:1 and Shonda Rhimes is an alumnus. In addition, they have a variety of centers and institutes for research in health, culture, etc. 

The University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is the best university for liberal arts. It gains recognition for having the highest multi-cultural enrollment, with 13% of its student population being international students. In fact, the university has admitted students from over 100 countries. Its top graduate schools are law, education, medicine, engineering, and applied science.

It ranks #1 college in America for business with a 95.2% graduation rate and a 6:1 student-faculty ratio. Elon Musk, the entrepreneur, is an alumnus. Similarly, they have different research facilities and laboratories across all disciplines, such as the laboratory for research on the structure of matter and the Penn Institute for Urban research.

Cornell University

League Cornell University was founded in 1865, making it the youngest college among the Ivy League Schools. Its mission was to disseminate, preserve, and discover knowledge to encourage a culture of inquiry beyond college life. The university offers over 100 courses.

It is located in Ithaca, New York, and ranked #1 in America’s best colleges for Agricultural sciences. The student-faculty ratio is 9:1, with 63% of their classes having fewer than 20 students. Moreover, it has a 93.9% graduation rate, and Mark Zuckerberg is a notable alumnus. They have a variety of research facilities, such as the Center for Sleep Medicine.

Brown University

Brown University is an institution that puts a lot of emphasis on research. Funded in 1764, this university encourages students to become creative through their open curriculum. It offers over 80 courses, including Assyriology, business, entrepreneurship, neuroscience, Egyptology, etc.

The research university is located in Providence, Rhode Island. It is known widely for its rigorous and open curriculum, allowing students to choose a personalized course of study and its 6:1 student to faculty ratio. Moreover, they have a 96% graduation rate and are known for their research achievement award honors. Similarly, Brown has an impressive alumni list, including world bank president Jim Yong Kim. It has various facilities, including five libraries such as John Hay Library, two laboratories, e.g., life sciences laboratories, creative arts theatres like Leeds theatre and museums like Gardner house.

Does Ivy League Education Make a Difference?

What is the difference between Ivy League schools and community colleges? Many students often want to be sure if joining an Ivy League School is worth it.

Although there is no difference in education, the experience & culture is the opposite of other institutions. What drives many students to Ivy is perhaps the successes of many of its alumni. Currently, over 10% of Fortune 100 Chief Executive Officers are Ivy League school graduates.

That doesn’t mean students from other universities don’t feature in high places. For example, let’s not forget that the one-time business magnate (Steve Jobs) graduated from a less prestigious University.

What makes Ivy League schools different? Many things set Ivy League schools apart from the rest. A report published by the United States Department of Education in 2015 showed that Ivy School graduates earn more than non-Ivy colleges. In 1999, a study conducted by Brigham Young University found out that Ivy graduates earn 39% more than graduates from other colleges.

Ivy League schools have the best facilities and spend more on student development. While other colleges spend an average of $12,000 per student, Ivy League schools spend as high as $92,000 per student. They also help students with networking, which guarantees them job placement immediately after they graduate. The strong and larger alumni network in big positions could guarantee and help fresh graduates get jobs.

Even when job hunting, many employers usually prefer those who went to Ivy League schools.

How To Join An Ivy League School

Ivy league schools are very selective with student admission. With an average acceptance rate below 10%, it means that even some students with good grades would end up missing a chance to join these schools. Therefore, those who qualify must be elite students who are extremely good in athletics and must have good connections.

Average acceptance rates and average GPA:

SchoolAverage GPA of Admitted Students Overall Acceptance Rate
University of Pennsylvania 3.857.4%
Princeton University 3.915.8%
Brown University4.056.6%
Cornell University 4.0510.6%
Dartmouth College4.077.9%
Yale University 4.125.9%
Columbia University4.145.1%
Harvard University 4.184.5%

The statistics above demonstrate how difficult it is to get admission to these colleges. As you can see, the acceptance rate and the average GPAs aren’t correlated. Additionally, there are other factors that these colleges consider during admission.

How To Boost Your Chances Of Getting Into Ivy League Schools

As seen above, Ivy League schools generally have low acceptance rates. Therefore, use the following tips to increase your chances of admission: 

Get strong test scores

You need to have outstanding grades and test scores to gain acceptance into an Ivy League school. Each school has specific requirements, so ensure you’re well above them to stand a chance. 

Choose a course you are passionate about

It is crucial to find your field of study and focus on it. Moreover, you’ll appear as a focused and disciplined student. For example, if you’re interested in pursuing medicine, earn good grades in subjects related to that. 

Be a good student

This solidifies your spot at an Ivy League school. They usually admit students who have self-discipline and will give back to the community once they graduate. 

Apply early action/decision

If you have your eyes on a specific Ivy League School, consider applying during the early decision. This will increase your chance of admission because an early decision is a binding offer. Early action works similarly but doesn’t require a commitment. Moreover, early action shows the college that you’re genuinely interested in studying there. You’re also promising to attend, an enticing offer for schools that depend on revenue from tuition and room. 

Write a top-notch essay

A well-written essay can help any student stand out from the crowd. Moreover, it highly increases your chances of getting an admission letter. Therefore, ensure you produce an exciting and compelling narrative. Use storytelling to share your passions and ambitions.

Attend an upper class preparatory high school

In 2017, 6% of admitted students in Havard came from only ten high schools. Therefore, if your high school has an excellent counselling program and a curriculum that prepares you for rigorous academic achievement in college, it will make a massive difference in your admission chances.

Ways To Stand Out In Your Ivy League Application

We have already established how difficult it is to get into Ivy League schools, therefore, you need to make a lasting impression in order to stand out from other applicants. Here are some tips:

Use passion to differentiate yourself.

Logan Powell, dean of admissions at Brown University, stated that he looks for why a student is doing community service or participating in athletics. Therefore, he encourages students to be genuine and focus on what they love instead of joining random clubs in hopes of getting admitted. 

Dedicate enough time to your statement

This is what separates one student from another. Therefore, your essay needs to show your level of introspection, how you think and approach the world around you, and how a particular experience shaped your perspective. It should be creative but humble. 

Demonstrate interest in the school you’re applying to

The Ivy League schools want to know that they’re not your second choice. Therefore, it is essential to show interest by applying early. This will show that you’re willing to be bound to the school. You can also visit the campus, take a tour and meet professors in your field of interest.

There are also some out-of-the-box tips that could help boost your application when combined with the ones above. These are:

Check your social media

Ivy league schools routinely look at prospective students’ social media accounts to know more about them. Consequently, college admissions officers want to weed out students who may hurt their campuses. For example, in 2017, Harvard cancelled admission offers to 10 applicants because of offensive posts made to a private Facebook group reported to the school. 

Send your interviewer a thank-you email

This shows that you’re a good student and leaves a positive impact on your interviewer. It also shows the interviewer that you appreciated their time and valued the conversation. 

Mention family legacy

At Havard, the acceptance rate for legacy students is about 33% compared with the 6% general acceptance rate. Therefore, though it may not seem like it, mentioning legacies can increase your admission chances. 

Some Universities Are Not Ivy League But Are Still Good

You may not always get a chance to get into the Ivy League schools but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a great education elsewhere. There are tons of great universities that you can attend. Here are a few:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In fact, according to QS world university rankings, the university offers some of the best research facilities and is ranked # 1 globally. They have 54 undergraduate fields of study, including engineering. Their average yearly tuition costs $53,790.  

Stanford University

Standford University is in Palo Alto, California, and it offers 59 undergraduate fields of study. Adittionally, the University houses seven schools, including Law, medicine, among others. Moreover, it is ranked #2 globally by QS World University ranking and has an annual tuition fee of $53,529.

University of Chicago

It is in the Hyde Park neighbourhood of Chicago, Illinois. They have a $60,552 yearly tuition and are ranked #9 globally. Furthermore, they have 52 undergraduate fields of study, including biological sciences.

California Institute of Technology

Caltech is in Pasadena, California, and it is ranked #4 by QS world university ranking. They have 28 undergraduate areas of study, such as science and engineering, and a $54,600 yearly tuition fee.

John Hopkins University

It has campuses in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington DC, and other international campuses in Italy and China. It is ranked #25 in the world and has 52 undergraduate fields of study. Lastly, they have a $55,350 yearly tuition fee. 

Northwestern University

It has two campuses in Lake Michigan, Evanston, and Chicago, Illinois. Ranked #25 globally with 90 undergraduate fields of study, and they have a $56,691 annual tuition fee. 

Duke University

It is located in Durham, North California, with 53 undergraduate fields of study and is well known for its Business, Engineering, and Public schools. It is ranked #42 globally and has a $58,031 annual tuition fee.


Ivy League schools are very prestigious and are likely to give you an upper hand in the job market. Such universities usually receive a huge number of applications. Additionally, getting admission is tough because of the high demand from all over the country, therefore, you may have all the qualifications and qualities desired to get admission to colleges and still miss the chance. Let’s not forget the fact that they have a fixed number of students to admit. The fees paid in these colleges are also higher than those paid in other colleges. Remember, you can get a good education from other accredited schools, therefore, it would be wise to weigh your options before trying your luck.

What is the cheapest Ivy League School?

Princeton University is famous for being the cheapest Ivy League School because of its extensive financial aid offerings. 62% of admitted students receive financial aid, and other students pay $47,140 yearly tuition and a net price of $16,302 yearly.

Which is the easiest Ivy League School to get into?

Cornell University has a 10.8% admission rate, considered the highest. Their acceptance rate for 2020 was 14.1% which was more than double the 4.5% acceptance rate of Harvard University. 

Can I get into Harvard with a 3.7 GPA?

Applicants usually require outstanding grades to get into Harvard. The average GPA for admitted students is 4.18 on a 4.0 scale.

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