It is interesting to note that the term ‘ivy league’ originally referred not to academics but to sports. The original Ivy League brought together not minds, but football teams. That said, these eight universities have some educational and institutional traits in common beyond their athletics programs. All are long-established, private universities; all are in the Northeastern U.S.; all benefit from sizeable endowments and generous alumni financial support; all are highly selective – and all provide need blind aid that often make them less expensive than in-state public colleges.

Is an Ivy League school right for you? If so, which one? That’s a question only you will be able to answer. Factors to consider are the differences among Ivy League members (some are located in large cities, and some in small towns; some have religious affiliations, and some do not). A more important factor is what you want to get out of your college education. Although Ivy League schools generally deserve their good reputations, some of their programs are stronger than others. If you’re interested in engineering, for example, you probably want to look beyond the eight universities listed below. Only a few Ivy League schools have top-rated engineering programs – and (like any school of engineering) they are stronger in some areas of engineering education than others.

The following table lists the eight U.S. universities that comprise the ‘Ivy League’ – a small group of private universities that enjoy a reputation for providing excellent education, and attract top students.

School Acceptance Rate Early Action or Decision Early Acceptance Rate Top 10% of the High School Class

Brown

7.2%

Decision

21.1%

92%

Columbia

5.5%

Decision

N/A

N/A

Cornell

10.3%

Decision

24.3%

90%

Dartmouth

8.7%

Decision

24.9%

96%

Harvard

4.6%

Action

14.5%

N/A

Penn

8.4%

Decision

18.5%

95%

Princeton

5.5%

Action

14.8%

94%

Yale

6.3%

Action

14.7%

94%

Figures are for the Fall 2018 entering class aka “Class of 2022”. Click the school links for far more information on the particular schools!

Keep in mind that the qualities that make for a good education are not limited to the Ivy League. You can look for (and find) features like a low student-to-faculty ratio, high teaching standards, and strong research support at other universities as well. Moreover, non-Ivy League schools might offer things that are important to you and that you could not find at the eight universities listed above – for example, a climate that doesn’t include ice and snow.

An Ivy League education has undeniable benefits. A degree from an Ivy League school will always draw attention to your resume, and you’ll have entry to a valuable alumni network. You’ll also receive instruction and mentoring that can help position you for competitive graduate programs and prestigious awards like the Rhodes Scholarships. But Ivy League educations come at a price – both in the tuition you might pay, and in anxiety over the schools’ highly competitive admissions. If an Ivy League university is the right choice for you, you’ll be happy to endure the application process. But even in that case, you will probably be more comfortable with having made that decision if you first go through the process of considering other options as well.