Ivy League

Everything you need to know about getting into an Ivy League University

  • Oct 18, 2021

In your search for quality education institutions in the US, the name ‘Ivy League’ is bound to come up. The elite group of educational institutions has been a constant source of fascination and aspiration amongst students who wish to pursue higher studies in the United States. 

It's a known fact that getting into one of the eight Ivy League universities isn't an easy feat. Challenges are many, but if a child is determined to put in the work to make their Ivy League dream come true, and the parents are eager to support him/her, they can make the mark!

But what is Ivy League exactly, which universities are included in the list of Ivy League, what are the fees of Ivy League universities? Let’s find out the answers in this article.


What are the eight Ivy League universities?

A common misconception is that the term ‘Ivy League Universities’ refers to the best national universities, which is incidentally true, but the name has more to do with sports than academics.

The Ivy League Universities are an athletic conference at the American collegiate level, comprising eight private colleges on the East Coast or the North-eastern United States, formed in 1954.

The colleges are:

  1. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (established in 1636)
  2. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (established in 1701)
  3. The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (established 1740)
  4. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (established in 1746)
  5. Columbia University, New York, New York (established in 1754)
  6. Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (established 1764)
  7. Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (established in 1769)
  8. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (established in 1865)


The Benefits of Ivy League Colleges

The eight colleges in the Ivy League offer unique advantages to their graduates. These advantages include mentorships by world-class professors who are leaders in their disciplines, access to innovative research opportunities, and unparalleled resources for student support. Not to mention, Ivy League attendees build valuable networks of peers who will journey on to become leaders and titans of industry, joining the elite Ivy League alumni community that spans the globe and opens a myriad of career doors to fresh graduates.


Simply put, here are the major reasons Ivy league Universities are so high in popularity:

  1. Reputation: These are the oldest schools in the US. Therefore, they have taken more time to build up their reputation than any other school in the United States.
  2. Academic Excellence: Ivy league provides the best academic guidance. There is just no debate about it. Almost every course in these Universities will have the best talent in terms of professors, research scholars, and students alike.
  3. Large Alumni Network: Being the oldest schools, they have a large alumni network that can offer excellent mentors, and, if required, suitable job opportunities as well.


Ivy League Acceptance Rate 

With acceptance rates consistently below 10% and college applications on the rise, breaking into the Ivy League is a dream for most ambitious students and professionals who want to pursue a career in the respective streams.

While it's debatable which Ivy League is the easiest to get into, comparing acceptance rates is the simplest way to figure this out. According to the table below, Cornell, Dartmouth, and U Penn are the easiest Ivy League schools to get into, with the highest acceptance rates for the class of 2025.


Class of 2024 Acceptance Rate

Class of 2025 Acceptance Rate

























How to get into Ivy League

With enticing benefits on the table and an acceptance rate as low as 3.9%, it takes devotion, hard work, and deliberate planning to secure a coveted seat in one of the Ivies.

Ivy League Universities offer several undergraduate, postgraduate, and even doctorate programs. Therefore, there is no single answer to the question of how to get admission to Ivy colleges. The requirements vary with the program and the university.

While there isn’t a perfect formula or a guaranteed way for a child to get accepted to an Ivy League school, here are some strategic ways that can help you maximize the admissions odds. 

  1. Grades matter - If a college aspirant wishes to go to an Ivy, he/she is going to need stellar grades and test scores. According to The National Association for College Admission Counseling, these are the two most important factors for a student trying to get into a highly selective university. It’s also necessary that the aspirants take extensive courses they can do well in.

SAT and ACT scores also matter, but not as much as you'd think. 


  1. Apply Early - Applying early significantly boosts the chances of getting into one of the Ivy League elite universities. 

However, you can only apply Early Decision (ED) for one university so choose wisely. Make sure that you only apply in advance if you’re fully committed to attending that university. Once you are accepted under early decision (ED), you will have to withdraw from all the other schools you’ve applied to.

Early action (EA) is another option for students-unlike ED, this method of application is not binding. 


  1. Write an exceptional Personal Essay - The personal essay is just that - personal. A well-written essay can capture the authenticity of an applicant better than any other part of the Ivy League college application. When writing a personal essay, you need a winning statement to set yourself apart from the hundreds of thousands of ambitious and bright individuals.


  1. Extracurriculars - If you want to get into the Ivy League, strong extracurriculars are critical. Ivy Leagues are not looking for applicants who have participated in dozens of extracurriculars. They discourage dabbling in many activities and prefer you dig deep into a subject, dedicate significant time to it, and ideally use this experience to propel you into a world-changing career.


  1. Letters of Recommendation - Recommendation letters help build your holistic application by allowing people in your life to give their personal and professional opinions about your academic performance, character, and drive. If you want to receive favorable and convincing recommendations, establish strong relationships with teachers, key staff, and leaders of your extracurricular activities. 


Ivy League Schools Tuition Fee

Accepted students in Ivy League Schools pay an average tuition fee of $56,631. In 2020, Columbia University had the highest tuition fee for undergraduate students at $61,788 followed by Brown University ($58,404), Penn ($57,770), Dartmouth College ($57,638), Cornell University ($57,222), Yale University ($55,500), and Princeton University ($52,800). Even though Harvard University has the lowest acceptance rate based on admissions statistics, it has the lowest tuition fee of $51,925.



Ivy League schools are some of the most sought-after institutions for higher education.  Many wish to study among these top universities, but only a few get through. 

It’s worth noting that Ivy League schools are not for everyone. All eight are unique in their own way and not all of them are going to be a great match for one applicant. 

Although it’s important to always aim for the sky and dream big, setting realistic goals for yourself is just as important. Hundreds of colleges out there can deliver better education to admitted students than the Ivies. Many of these schools, like “Public Ivy” universities are also more accessible and offer lower tuition fees, considering how the Ivies do not offer applicants any merit-based financial aid (only need-based aid).

At the end of the day, it’s about finding an institution that fits you best. If you feel these are the colleges for you, it's always worth trying.

There’s no magic trick or simple formula to get you there but by following the above tips, you’ll surely increase your chances of getting a college admission letter from the Ivies.

Do you want to know more about making the right choice for your college and career?
Book a Free One-on-One consultation with a career expert.

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