Ivy League – A gist

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Remember how every Upper East sider on CW network’s show ‘Gossip Girl’ wanted to get into the Ivy League colleges or when Louis Litt in the famous American legal drama ‘Suits’ said, “We only hire from Harvard” ? Ever wondered what these colleges are and why even Blake Lively wanted to get in? Well, keep reading to know more about the most prestigious and sought-after colleges in the United States.

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania together constitute the Ivy league. Although these colleges antecede the presidency of George Washington, the Ivy League was formally established as an athletic conference in 1954. Every U.S. President since Ronald Reagan has attended an Ivy League college. This list encompasses great American presidents like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy. The Ivies have set themselves apart from other universities by setting the rules of no post-season competitions and no financial aid to players except for legitimate academic or need-based scholarships. The Ivy Leagues emerged from a rich tradition of sporting rivalries that date back to the 19th century. They competed in a plethora of sports, from rowing to basketball, all of which was formalized when NCAA division 1 athletics formed in 1954. Some colleges in the states are a part of a group called ‘Little Ivies’. This term refers to the nearby private liberal arts colleges comparable to the original Ivy League schools in terms of academic standards and social reputation. There are 18 schools that are members of the Little Ivies such as Amherst College, Swarthmore College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University.

The U.S. News and World Report’s influential ranking has always kept the Ivy League colleges in the Top 10 list without fail. The media company once said “Ivy League schools are considered the most sought-after institutions of higher learning in the country and around the world”, owing to its selection process for admissions, social standing and outstanding academic record. With 95 per cent of enrolled students making it to the graduation day, the Ivies reports high graduation rates as compared to any other four-year colleges and universities in the U.S as well. A recent survey suggests that approximately 1 in 3 hiring managers are inclined to only hire candidates who have a degree from an elite university i.e. the Ivy Leagues. With a median salary of $80,000 per annum for recent Ivy League graduates, it surely is a guarantee for success at the workplace in addition to high-paying on-campus placements.

ivy league

Princeton has the second oldest Art museum in the country. Inaugurated in 1882, it presently is home to more than 100,000 different artefacts and works of art dating back to ancient times. Brown university, as opposed to the generic reputation of the Ivies being very stringent about academics and curriculums, allows its students to make their own curriculum. It gives the students the academic freedom and liberty to choose a curriculum of their liking and comfort. According to Brown, this approach yields graduates who are “deeply creative thinkers, intellectual risk-takers and entrepreneurial problem solvers.”

In 2020, Stanford ranked 1st in exclusivity when it came to admissions. Caltech, MIT, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Pomona, Bowdoin, and various other universities reported lower acceptance rates than at one or two Ivy League colleges as well. Currently, the Ivy League even has to compete with many institutions that challenge the academic record and exclusivity of the elite eight.

ivy league

The tuition fee at Ivy Leagues alone can cost you more than $USD 50,000 per year and is not inclusive of the living cost. On the bright side, colleges like Harvard give out billion-dollar endowments in order to make the institution more reasonable and affordable for potential candidates. Regardless of wealth and background, need-blind aid helps a candidate to be selected on the basis of skills and academia in lieu of whether they can afford to pay the fee or not. You pay what you can afford, which is calculated after a fair assessment of your family wealth, assets etc. Currently, only three Ivy League colleges, Harvard, Princeton and Yale offer need-blind admission and full-need financial aid to all students to domestic as well as international applicants.


As for Student Exchange Programs, the IvyPlus Exchange allows doctoral students to study and conduct research at one of the participating IvyPlus institutions for a term or an academic year at no additional tuition cost. Colleges that take part in the program are Brown, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, University of Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania.

Five of the eight Ivies are featured in Forbes’ top 10 American colleges, a ranking we hope was justified through this article.

– Aishwarya Ojha

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