Ivy League Schools: Reasons to Apply

    June 27, 2023 | Admin

    Ivy League Schools

    In the United States and the rest of the world, people consider Ivy League schools the most prestigious amongst other colleges. These highly selective colleges are located in the North-Eastern part of the United States. About eight schools in the United States are considered Ivy league teams. These include Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale universities, and the University of Pennsylvania. These elite colleges and universities are the most outstanding citadels of higher learning and are very competitive in acceptance and graduation. Together, they form an athletic conference of American college football students and other sports. This conference is known as the Ivy League. 

    History of Ivy League Schools

    Ivy League origins date back to 1954 when the term was first used.  Interestingly, the NCAA athletic conference for Division 1 was created at that time. During those periods, sports hugely determine the prestige and elitism of schools. So, schools that did well in basketball, football, and so on were considered better and preferred. 

    People started using the term around the 1950s, but many Ivy League schools had already been around for a long time. For instance, the university of Harvard dates back to 1636 with John Harvard. Harvard University is located in Boston city, Massachusetts. Aside from Harvard and Cornell, a majority of the Ivy League schools were founded around the 1700s. Yale came along some years later in 1701 all thanks to its benefactor, Elihu Yale. Today, you can find Yale-New Haven, Connecticut State of the US. 

    Pennsylvania University is an Ivy League institution founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin making it the fourth oldest school in the United States. Princeton was formed in 1746; however, the school’s name was the College of New Jersey. A few years later, it became the New Jersey School of Princeton. Columbia University of New York City started in 1754 with King George II of England as its benefactor. Brown University, Rhode Island, began in 1764. Dartmouth, which is in Hanover, New Hampshire, is the smallest of all Ivy League schools. It was created in 1769. At inception, Dartmouth received an endowment worth 7 billion dollars. 

    Cornell came in many years later in 1865 but still a very long time before these schools became the Ivy League schools. The university started in New York with its two benefactors; Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. 

    These schools continued to show superiority in athletics in the 1900s. They significantly dominated American college football between 1913 and 1920. As their athletic prowess continued to grow, the schools became famous and also attracted more funds. As a result, the standards for admission and performance in these schools became demanding and rigorous. 

    Since the 1960s, the Ivy League schools have sustained a worldwide reputation of outstanding graduates. Ivy League graduates show class not only in academics but also in social prestige and potentials for promising careers. As of today, they still rank amongst the best US colleges and universities. 

    They share their spots at the top with institutions like Caltech, MIT, and Stanford. Even though these higher education institutions are not Ivy League schools in all sense, they enjoy similar prestige and social status like those in the Ivy League rankings. 

    Qualifications Required by Ivy League Schools

    The first thing anyone must know before applying to Ivy League schools is that there are no guaranteed strategies. All the eight Ivy League institutions have unique modes of entry that changes every year. Also, the qualifications might differ from these depending on whether one is an international student. Complete information on this is available at the admissions office of the school. 

    However, one thing is sure across the board; they all need you to have high test scores and an impressive academic transcript. 

    As you read, these schools were prestigious in the past for both academics and athletics. Even today, the Ivy League schools still require admitted students to have a certain level of athleticism in them. 

    Therefore, students planning on entering the Ivy league schools need to work on these three things. They include:

    1. Excellent academic records:

    For students in the United States, the acronym commonly used is the GPA. It means the grade point average. The term refers to the average amount of points a student can earn per credit in their academic classes. 

    Every grade in each course carries particular weight. The average of these weights then shows the overall performance of the student in high school. 

    The GPA has a scale that runs from 0 to 4.0. A student with 4.0 is considered to have excellent performance. Similarly, a GPA of 3.0 indicates good performance, while 2.0 and below are deemed to be weak or very weak. 

    To become a student of the eight Ivy League schools, a student must work towards a GPA of 4.0 or even close. While students with less than 4.0 can still get Ivy League admission, higher scores usually guarantee more increased chances of gaining access. 

    2. Outstanding test scores 

    While good grades and high GPA are essential, those alone cannot offer you admission into Ivy League schools. Asides from a good GPA, a student must have some other things, and one of them is to have good scores in standardized tests. 

    Even though these test scores do not say much about the student like their academic transcript, Ivy League schools still use them in making their decisions. Depending on the School, students are usually to submit either ACT or SAT scores during the admissions process. 

    The two tests measure the aptitude of students in high school. It also gives insight into how much of the standard educational materials the postgraduate and undergraduate students have to understand before leaving high-school. 

    Both ACT and SAT feature multi-choice questions with different sections. Verbal reasoning, mathematics, and an essay are the core section of the tests. The essay section measures the ability of students to write and also to make logical arguments. 

    In writing the test, the expectation is not a perfect score. Instead, the idea is to measure the understanding and mastery of students on a broad scale. Therefore, it is perfectly normal to see students do well in a particular area or find some sections easier than others. However, a student must give all sections his best attempt to get a chance to secure admission in the Ivy League school of their dreams. 

    In general, an outstanding SAT score starts at 1590 while for the ACT, it starts at 35 and higher. Students in these ranges will usually fall among the first 25 applicants in the school. However, an SAT score of below 1471 and ACT of below 32 might be too low for admissions. But then even with a low score, there is still hope. 

    The significant advantage that these test scores have over academic transcript is that you can write them twice. While your GPA is once and final, you can take your SAT or ACTs again if you feel you can perform better. 

    3. Impressive extracurricular activities 

    Securing admission in an Ivy League school goes beyond excellent test scores and academic transcripts. While these two play a significant role, these schools also evaluate prospective students on extracurricular activity. That is, prospective students should have an extraneous form activity or after-school commitments; usually, a hobby or an intense pursuit the student has outside class. 

    Here is where athleticism comes into the picture. However, unlike in the past where students were simply judged on athletics, the system now accommodates more activities. These days, Ivy League schools lookout for students with artistic pursuits, clubs, debate teams, political activism, volunteer work, etc. 

    Unfortunately, many students make mistakes in this regard. It is prevalent to find students paying so much attention to their studies that they do not have time to pursue other activities. Beyond being just successful, Ivy League schools need students who have particular interests and ideas and are passionate enough to follow through. 

    To enhance your chances of securing Ivy League college admission, you should participate in vital extracurricular activities. Although there are no rules to this, ensure that these activities suit the course you intend to study at the school. For instance, a student interested in media could be part of his yearbook committee in high school, literary magazine, a student newspaper, or an on-campus TV or radio station. 

    Reasons to Apply to an Ivy League School

    Considering the stress and the low acceptance rates of the Ivy League schools, one might wonder if it’s worth applying to these schools. What makes students seek spots in these so-called ivy league institutions? Why can’t you just go to any other private school or state school with a higher acceptance rate? Well, the answer bores down to one word, which is: opportunity. 

    The following are some of the unique opportunities that come with attending these highly selective colleges and universities.


    Due to their historical roots, universities in the Ivy League have students that graduated from as far back as the 1700s. These schools make good use of their alumni network. The alumni network consists of all graduates from different universities. In the university, students might not see the full impacts of the Alumni association. However, after graduation, the effects are clear to everyone. 

    Besides getting a vital Ivy League education, you become a member of an elite group of graduates. These alumni associations have a reputation for giving a strong welcome and recommendation to their new members. Due to the success of the alumni, keeping in touch with them will significantly impact current students’ future careers. 

    The beauty is, students already enjoy these fruitful networks even before they graduate. With their alumni’s influence, Ivy League school students can secure internships in big companies for future employment. With an Ivy League Degree, one already has contacts to get into renowned companies and agencies anywhere in the world. Students can also use the network to apply for financial aid. 


    When you attend an Ivy League, you have access to the best study materials in the world. The caliber of lecturers in these schools for undergraduate and graduate school is the best of minds. Their Professors are properly schools and are passionate about what they do. These professors are always in a high spirit and will do their best to make students understand. More importantly, research is taken very seriously in these schools. As a result, the university expects its professors to take the lead in making discoveries in academic fields for the university and the world. 

    That is why today, the intellectuals that generate new theories in many subject areas are from these schools. So, when you study here in these schools, you learn directly from the horse’s mouth. 

    Job Statistics

    It is general knowledge that having a university degree increases one’s income. However, statistically speaking, you earn even more when you have an Ivy League degree. 

    According to a study conducted by the US department of education, strong evidence proves that an Ivy League degree is valuable. According to the study, after ten years of graduating from the Ivy League, graduates typically earn an average of $59, 124 yearly. 

    The following is a summary of the Ivy League universities and the expected average income. 

    • Harvard University: $89,700 
    • Princeton University: $74,700
    • University of Pennsylvania: $85,500 
    • Yale University: $83,200 
    • Columbia University: $83,300
    • Cornell University: $77,200
    • Dartmouth College: $75,500
    • Brown University: $67,500

    As you have seen, with a degree from an Ivy League, you have the potential to earn more than any university graduate anywhere in the world. As of today, only graduates from MIT earn more than graduates from Ivy League schools. Technically speaking, you get good returns for your tuition. 

    Career Paths

    With a degree from an Ivy League University, one is already off to a good start. Graduates of competitive fields like Law, finance, and business consulting would enjoy good starts in their careers and job opportunities. 

    Why? Top companies in the world recognize the potential of graduates from these schools. Most companies believe that Public Ivy Schools have the brightest students globally. So, they go to these schools to hire their staff. 

    For example, big finance companies in the US like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley, recruit directly from the University of Pennsylvania. Interestingly, more than 55% of all the 114 supreme court justices in the US graduated from an Ivy league. More so, 9 of the current judges attended either Harvard or Yale. Also, 34 of the CEOs amongst the top 100 startup list from CNN graduated from Harvard.

    Famous Alumni from the Ivy league 

    The following is a list of famous people who attended the Ivies at some point in their lives arranged by the schools. 

    List of Famous People who attended the Ivies

    Brown University 

    • Emma Watson, the actress from Harry Potter (English Literature, 2014)
    • Jessica Capshaw, the actress from Grey’s Anatomy (English Literature, 1998)
    • John Krasinski; Box office actor (Theatre arts, 2001)  
    • Todd Haynes the film director (Arts and Semiotics, 1985)
    • Craig Cameron Mello; Nobel Prize Winner (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

    Harvard University

    • Former United States President John Adams (BA and MA; 1755 and 1758)
    • Former United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt (BA History, 1903)
    • Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon (Masters of Public Administration, 1984) 
    • Former United States President Barack Obama (1991)
    • Tom Morello, Musician (BA, Social Studies 1986)
    • Natalie Portman, Academy Awards Winner (Psychology, 2003)


    • Meryl Streep; MFA at Yale School of Drama (1975)
    • Vincent Price (History, 1933)
    • CEO; Time Warner, Jeffrey Lawrence Bewkes (Philosophy, 1974)
    • Nobel laureate and economist Paul Krugman (BA Economics, 1974)
    • 41st President of the US, George H. W. Bush (1968)
    • George W. Bush (BA History, 1968)

    Cornell University

    • Nobel Laureate (Literature) and author Pearl S. Buck
    • Nobel Laureate (Literature) and author Toni Morrison
    • Nobel Laureate (Physiology or Medicine) and author Barbara McClintock
    • Author E. B. White (BA, 1921)
    •  Former President of Cuba Mario Garcia Menocal (Engineering, 1888) 
    • Christopher Reeve, Superman Actor (English and music theory, 1974) 
    • Irene Rosenfield; CEO Mondelez International (BA in Psychology)
    • Sandi Peterson, Chairman, Johnson and Johnson’s (BA in Government Studies)

    University of Pennsylvania

    • Political theorist, philosopher, and linguist Noam Chomsky (BA, MA, Ph.D.)
    • Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president (MA Anthropology, 1934)
    • 45th President of the US, Donald Trump (Economics, 1968).
    • Ivanka Trump (Economics, 2004)

    Princeton University  

    • American actor James Stewart (Architecture, 1932)
    • Actor Brooke Shields (French Literature, 1987)
    • Eric Schmidt, Google chairman (Electrical Engineering, 1976)
    • Amazon Founder and entrepreneur Jeff Bezos (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) 

    Columbia University

    • American author and professor of biochemistry Isaac Asimov (MA Chemistry and Ph.D. Biochemistry, 1941 and 1948)
    • American economist, statistician, and Nobel Memorial Prize Winner; Milton Friedman (Ph.D. Economics, 1946)
    • Singer, Art Garfunkel (History, 1965 and Mathematics, 1976)
    • Actor Ed Harris (Athletics, 1969)
    • Author Jack Kerouac (1940s)
    • Author Allen Ginsberg (1940s)

    Dartmouth College 

    • 41st Vice President of the US, Nelson A. Rockefeller (Economics, 1930)
    • Actress and producer Connie Britton (Asian studies, 1989)
    • Dinesh D’Souza, Indian American political commentator (English, 1983)
    • Hasbro CEO, Brian Goldner (Politics, 1985).
    • Pulitzer Prize winner and poet; Robert Frost 
    • Pulitzer Prize winner and poet; Richard Eberhart 

    Tips for Applying to an Ivy League School

    By now, you must have seen how rigorous and tasking it is to get into the Ivy League schools. Every year, these schools get applications from thousands of diverse kinds of students. Unfortunately, only a few; about 10% of these applicants get admission to study in these schools. For instance, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale received a combined 281,060 applications for 2021, but the schools offered less than 10% Ivy League admissions. Amongst the eight schools, Harvard has the lowest acceptance rate of just 5%.

    With that said, getting into the Ivies is a significant challenge. Hopefully, with the following tips, students will find things easy. 

    Attend an elite preparatory high school

    Elite high schools in the United States typically send a number of their students to Ivy League schools. A side attraction is that students in these facilities take lots of rigorous high school courses. Also, they have well-trained admission counselors to guide and prepare you for the ivies. Finally, students of these elite high schools compete amongst themselves for admission into the Ivy League. Elite high school students often have seniors to look up to for help. 

    Get great grades and excellent test scores in the right courses.

    Good grades and test scores are both pretty obvious, but there is more to it. The two most important factors that determine whether a student gains admission is academic excellence. That means stellar grades and excellent test scores, but not just in any course; Ivy league students must take challenging courses and still do well in them. 

    According to professionals, course rigor plays a crucial factor during the selection phase. That is because these Ivy league colleges want to be sure students are challenging themselves and doing well at the same time. 

    While Test Scores and a good GPA are critical, there is still more to prove. To get into an Ivy League school, students need to show that they are not just smart. Instead, they are to show that they are unique. For this reason, sometimes, students with low scores still become accepted students if they can offer some outstanding achievement. 

    Follow your passion

    According to Logan Powell, the admissions officer At Brown University, the type of extracurricular activity a child chooses is not essential. Instead, he wants to see why such a student picks the activity and what the student gains from it.

    Powell would like to know if the student has learned time management, teamwork, discipline, or leadership. What impacts have these activities had on the students that would be useful to the Ivy League school?

    The best way to get the best answers to these questions is to do what you are passionate about. By doing what you love, you will put in more time and effort and, in turn, meet these targets without much thought. 

    You should be a good person.

    Being nice might seem inconsequential, but in fact, it adds some points to get a spot in an Ivy League school. Most universities want students who are responsible for society. Also, they look for people who have the potential to give back to the community. 

    A good example is a piece that was featured in the New York Times recently. According to the story, this student got into an Ivy thanks to his custodian’s recommendation letter in high school. In the letter, the custodian attested that the student was the only one in the entire school who knew every janitorial staff by name. The custodian also said the student was found cleaning up after other students had left. Sometimes, the student also helped turn off the lights in empty classrooms. 

    While you go about being nice, remember to be true to it. Do what is right because it feels right and not because you need a spot in an Ivy League school. According to the custodian from the story above, the student did all of that when nobody watched. 

    Apply via Early Decision or Early Action 

    When you prepare ahead, your chances of getting into the Ivies increase by a large margin: however, you can only apply to one school when you choose an early application. That means you need to be careful. 

    The early application system is for students who are sure they are ready. With an Early decision application, students must withdraw from all schools when they are granted admission. 

    Unlike the early decision, the above rules are not binding for Early action candidates. 

    The following are the acceptance rates for Early Decision and Early Action across Ivy league applicant:

    • ED/EA applicants in Brown university have an acceptance rate of 21.9% against the regular 9% acceptance rate.
    • ED/EA applicants at Cornell university have an acceptance rate of 25.6% against the regular 12.5% acceptance rate.
    • ED/EA applicants in Dartmouth have an acceptance rate of 27.8% against the regular 10.4% acceptance rate.
    • ED/EA applicants at Harvard have an acceptance rate of 14.5% against the regular 5.2%% acceptance rate.
    • In Yale, ED/EA applicants have an acceptance rate of 17.1% against the regular 6.9% acceptance rate.
    • ED/EA applicants in Princeton have an acceptance rate of 15.4% against the regular 6.1% acceptance rate.
    • ED/EA applicants at the University of Pennsylvania have an acceptance rate of 22% against the regular 9.2% acceptance rate.

    You need a good essay.

    Besides the application, students’ admission essays are excellent for standing out from the crowd and letting the school know who you are.

    In the college essay, the school expects to see something slightly different from what is written in the application. The essay is where the student shows he is not just smart, but also an exceptional student. 

    Therefore, an ideal college essay should contain your passions, ideas, and what you feel are most important to you. A helpful tip here would be to keep things simple and truthful. Most professionals say that the best essays are usually the simplest ones. 

    Remember that these admissions officers are humans as well. Hence, it is smart to write to win their empathy and get them entertained while getting to know you. 

    Seek Professional Help

    These days, it is common to see students use the help of admission consulting firms in getting into Ivy League schools. Depending on the company, success rates are as high as 92% in some places. The services rendered by these companies are not just restricted to counseling. These consulting firms also tutor students and give them college planning guide

    The only downside is, the services do not come cheap. Depending on the depth of the service rendered, prices can be between $1,000 and $1,000,000. 

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