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Ivy League Colleges: Basic Information about the Prestigious Ivy League

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My cousin’s son recently graduated from Notre Dame, only to enroll in law school at Columbia. We do not live in the same state so I haven’t seen him in a few years, but based on his acceptance rate at prestigious universities I’d have to guess he’s extremely intelligent.

The Ivy League Conference

Columbia, along with seven other private colleges and universities, is a member of the Ivy League. Even though my cousin’s son is a normal guy (from what I remember, anyway) and he’s certainly not rich, whenever I hear the term Ivy League I conjure up mental images of wealthy snobs who are on the crew team or play tennis. That’s a common—but unfair—stereotype, so I decided to delve a little deeper into the whole Ivy League thing.

As it turns out, the Ivy League is actually an athletic conference—a collection of sports teams which play against each other. That news surprised me; then again I don’t know much about sports. Although the Ivy League is officially the name of the group’s athletic conference, the term also has connotations of academic excellence and selective admissions policies.

The Ivy League Colleges

Ivy League colleges consistently place at the top of the US News and World Report lists, and they are all located in the Northeast United States. The general public consensus is that Ivy League schools are among the most impressive in the world.

The eight Ivy League colleges include:

  • Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island
  • Columbia University in New York City
  • Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire
  • Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey
  • University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Common Characteristics of Ivy League Colleges

An Ivy League education has undeniable benefits, if not for the education itself but the attention the school’s reputation will add to your resume! Most Ivy League schools have between 4,000 and 14,000 undergraduate students, making them smaller than most public universities but larger than most private liberal arts colleges.

The colleges and universities making up the Ivy League are associated with academic excellence but also social elitism due to their high tuition rates. The majority of students are wealthy and white.

Ivy League colleges are extremely competitive, and regardless of your high school grades and test scores it’s very difficult to be accepted into an Ivy League school— in most instances, less than 20 percent of applicants are accepted.

Have Alternate College Choices in Place

If you’re considering applying to an Ivy League college, it’s important to understand that your chances of being accepted are very low—even if you’re at the top of your high school class and have incredibly high SAT and ACT scores. It’s a wise idea to have several alternate choices in place when applying to any college or university, but especially when applying to a school such as Harvard or Yale.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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