What Are Ivy League Universities and Why Should I Care? Choose a university

If you’ve watched most movies about American college life, a large majority of them take place a big-name, elite universities. Animal House, Legally Blonde, A Beautiful Mind, Good Will Hunting—all showcase the strange parties and characters that exist within the walls of these highly respected institutions.

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These universities are often grouped under the label 'Ivy League', and their history is quite interesting and important to American higher education.

What Are Ivy League Universities?

Beginning as a group within an NCAA Division I intercollegiate association, they began as eight highly competitive athletic colleges within that division:

  1. Harvard University (Massachusetts)
  2. Yale University (Connecticut)
  3. Princeton University (New Jersey)
  4. Columbia University (New York)
  5. Brown University (Rhode Island)
  6. Dartmouth College (New Hampshire)
  7. University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylviania)
  8. Cornell University (New York)

As their athletic teams began to generate more endowments, funding, and popularity, the standards for student performance and admission became increasingly more demanding and rigorous.

As a result, since the 1960s, these schools gained a widespread reputation for producing students of high academic excellence, social prestige, and promising career futures. Even today, these universities maintain their reputation, and they have a large presence among the top-ranked universities in the U.S. They are joined in this position by Stanford, M.I.T., and Caltech—schools that are not technically Ivy League universities, but tend to enjoy a similar reputation and social status.

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Why Should I Care about the Ivy League Universities?

When you’re beginning your search for undergraduate and graduate degrees, these universities are likely to be the first to attract your attention, for many reasons.

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  • These schools use a lot of resources to attract smart, hard-working, and career-minded students—like you--from all over the world. Depending on your situation—whether it’s career plans, financial status, or academic goals—you will want to know about these schools, and where they are in comparison to other colleges around the country.
  • It is no secret that these schools strongly serve students for professional careers. Looking to several fields, extending from Law and Medicine, to Electrical Engineering and Business, the Ivy League universities truly dominate these categories. Getting a degree from these schools will open a lot of doors for you in the future.
  • However, these schools also tend to be among the most expensive schools in the U.S., with tuition rates averaging between $55,000 and $60,000 per year. To reduce this cost, though, these universities will offer great scholarships to qualified students.
4 things to know before you apply to an Ivy League school
  • Admission to these schools is highly competitive; to be accepted to these universities, students have to achieve standards that are much higher than the ones at any average public university.
  • Before deciding to enter into the Ivy League elite education, you should check the requirements that these schools tend to demand, including test scores (SAT, GRE, LSAT), GPA, recommendations, extra-curricular activities, and other academic achievements.
  • If you aspire to run a major corporation, hold public office in government, or have a strong advantage in research and innovation, these schools have historically been a breeding-ground for accomplished and successful students
  • You should keep in mind, though, that there are thousands of universities in the U.S., and several of them have high rankings and lower tuition costss. The Ivy League universities are distinguished institutes with a widespread, global reputation for excellence. But, when searching for universities, you ought to really seek the perfect fit that suits your personal needs.

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