Ivy League Schools: What are they, Rankings, Acceptance Rate

ivy league schools

Ivy league schools are prestigious and highly selective universities and their history is quite interesting and important to American higher education. These schools take pride in sports, athletism and competitions while also emphasizing on academic excellence.

According to Wikipedia, The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United States. The term Ivy League is typically used beyond the sports context to refer to the eight schools as a group of elite colleges with connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism.

Undergraduate enrollments range from about 4,500 to about 15,000, larger than most liberal arts colleges and smaller than most state universities. Total enrollment, which includes graduate students, ranges from approximately 6,600 at Dartmouth to over 20,000 at Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, and Penn.

Ivy League schools financial endowments range from Brown’s $4.7 billion to Harvard’s $41.9 billion, the largest financial endowment of any academic institution in the world.

The Ivy League is similar to other groups of universities in other countries such as Oxbridge in the United Kingdom, the C9 League in China, and the Imperial Universities in Japan

Which American schools are Ivy League Schools?

Ivy League schools in the U.S. began as a group association of eight highly competitive athletic colleges, namely:

  1. Harvard University
  2. Brown University
  3. Columbia University
  4. Cornell University
  5. Dartmouth College
  6. The University of Pennsylvania
  7. Princeton University
  8. Yale University.

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Ivy League Schools Ranking 2021


Location (City/State)
SettingUndergraduate EnrollmentEndowment SizeForbes Ranking*Niche RankingUS News RankingWall Street Journal RankingAverage Ranking
HarvardCambridge, MAUrban6,755$38.3 Billion1 (1)1 (2)2 (2)1 (1)1.25 (1.5)
YaleNew Haven, CTUrban6,092$29.4 Billion2 (3)2 (4)4 (4)2 (3)2.5 (3.5)
PrincetonPrinceton, NJSuburban5,422$25.9 Billion3 (5)3 (6)1 (1)4 (7)2.75 (4.75)
BrownProvidence, RIUrban7,160$3.8 Billion5 (7)4 (9)7 (14)3 (5)4.75 (8.75)
PennPhiladelphia, PAUrban10,019$13.8 Billion4 (6)5 (10)5 (8)7 (13)5.25 (9.25)
ColumbiaNew York, NYUrban6,245$10.9 Billion8 (14)6 (12)3 (3)8 (15)6.25 (11)
DartmouthHanover, NHRural4,459$5.5 Billion6 (10)7 (13)6 (13)6 (12)6.25 (12)
CornellIthaca, NYRural15,043$7.2 Billion7 (11)8 (18)8 (18)5 (9)7 (14)

Ivy League Schools acceptance rates hit “shocking” lows amid pandemic upheaval

According to CBSNEWS, Ivy League Schools have never been easy to get into, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it even tougher. Harvard University, Columbia University and other elite schools sent out their admissions decisions on Tuesday night, revealing that a record low share of applicants were admitted. 

At Harvard, 3.4% of applicants were admitted compared with 4.9% the previous year, while Columbia’s rate dropped to 3.7%, from 6.1% — a record low for both institutions. Other Ivies also reported reduced admission compared with a year ago, when COVID-19 first shuttered the U.S. economy.

High school seniors applying for the class of 2025 have faced numerous hurdles, from shifting to remote classes to canceled college entrance exams. Colleges ranging from the Ivies to state college systems postponed the requirement for SAT or ACT scores during the pandemic, which in turn encouraged more students to apply to their dream schools. For instance, Columbia said the number of applicants surged by more than 50% this year, with more than 60,000 applications.

“I was expecting the admit rates to be much, much lower, but when you see it, it’s shocking,” said Charlie Javice, the CEO of Frank, a service that helps students with financial aid forms. “At that point, it’s luck.”

Colleges didn’t expand the number of students they accept, with the increase in applications resulting in this year’s record low admissions rates.

Here are the admission rates to the Ivy League colleges for the class of 2025:

Cornell said it admitted 5,863 students to the Class of 2025, but didn’t disclose the number of applicants. 

The question will be whether the Ivy Leagues became more diverse, such as by accepting more first-generation college students or those from underrepresented backgrounds, Javice noted. That’s become a hot-button topic for the nation’s elite schools amid widening income inequality as well as the Varsity Blues scandal, which exposed a bribery and cheating scheme that helped the children of wealthy people get admitted to elite universities.

Students thought, “‘Why not apply for my moonshot school because I can?'” Javice noted. “All these barriers were removed. The flip side is you have so many schools that are struggling — this is just the elite side of it.”

Drop in low-income students

Community college enrollment rates, meanwhile, have plunged during the pandemic, with enrollment down almost 10% compared with last spring, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks enrollment data. Overall, college enrollment this year is about 3% lower than last spring. 

Low-income students may be opting out of college for a year, or searching for other routes to careers that have less cost, such as entering a trade. Javice said the average household income for students with whom her company works has risen from $35,000 to about $52,000, which suggests a drop-off in the number of low-income students applying to college, she said.

“What COVID did was accelerate trends in the economy overall, and this is one of them,” she noted. “It’s a bigger wedge between those who have and those who don’t.”

Things to know before you apply to an Ivy League school

  1. The admission process for these elite schools is highly competitive; you’ll need to achieve standards that are much higher than the ones at any average public university. For instance, the overall admission rates in 2020 were under 10%.
  2. Remember to check the admission requirements carefully,  including test scores (SAT, GRELSATGPA), recommendations, extra-curricular activities, and other academic achievements. They matter!
  3. You should keep in mind, though, that there are thousands of higher education institutions in the U.S., and several of them score high in university rankings while having lower tuition costs. This is why, when searching for universities, you should really seek the perfect fit that suits your personal needs.

If you dream of running a major corporation, holding public office in government, or gaining a strong advantage in research and innovation, the Ivy League is probably the best option.

These schools have historically been a breeding-ground for high achievers, with many Nobel Prize winners being former Ivy League graduates. But it is equally OK to attend another school in the USA – public or private. Many other schools are recognised worldwide for their quality education.

You can also check out the Tipsblog to get some help on financing your studies in the USA.

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