It all started off as a conglomerate of 8 universities known for the athletic performance of their students, and they held an athletic conference among the group to determine the best. This helped improve their stature, and soon enough, they became known for a certain exclusivity and prestige. This prestige is not only confined among USA universities; the Ivy League is home to the highest ranked universities in the world.
These institutes are the most renowned private universities in USA. When people think of the Ivy League, three words usually come to mind: tradition, prestige and history. Students from all over the world strive for the opportunity to be part of this historic league. The competition is such that you need to be the best at what you do in order to just get a shot at getting admission in these USA universities. However, you need to first understand why these colleges are so sought-after, and what factors you need to consider to apply to these colleges. Let’s start digging, shall we?
Out of the 5000+ USA universities, 8 have the distinction of being a member of the Ivy League:
|University||Location||QS Global Ranking|
|Harvard University||Cambridge, MA||5|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||13|
|Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||16|
|Yale University||New Haven, CT||18|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||20|
|Columbia University||New York, NY||22|
|Brown University||Providence, RI||63|
|Dartmouth College||Hanover, NH||205|
It might be a bit confusing since USA universities like MIT and Stanford are not included, yet they outrank Ivy League universities from time to time. The key difference is the athletic framework of the universities, the foundation upon which the league was initially conceived.
The Ivy League is notorious for picking the crème dela crème. On average, an Ivy League university admits less than 10% of applicants. In recent years, that number has dropped down further, indicating that the competitiveness has only increased over time. In 2021, the average undergraduate acceptance rate was 5.5%, so out of 385,072 applications received for the class of 2025, 21,179 students were offered admission. Seems like a walk in the park, no?
|University||Acceptance Rate (Fall 2021)|
|University of Pennsylvania||6%|
Before we get into the specifics, it is important to know that the Ivy League consists of private USA universities, so the tuition fee is bound to be a little steep. The league has an average fee of $55,000 – $65,000 per year. These universities know the standard of their education, so they do not pass up on opportunities to have exceptional students simply because they cannot afford it. Each university has its own aid packages, determined by your financial standing, and eligibility for admission. Harvard, Yale, Princeton offer need-blind financial aid, while the other five provide aid based on demonstrated need. The Ivy League is known for being the most generous when it comes to providing financial aid to international students, as they should, because the admission criteria is merit-intensive, and if you are eligible for admission, they will facilitate your education if need be. Generally, Ivy League schools offer financial aid based on family income. However, there is a quota system in place, so not all students who are eligible for financial aid will get a 100% waiver on their tuition fee.
|University||Tuition Fee (2021)||Eligibility for Aid Based on Income|
|Brown University||$62,304||$125,000 or less per year|
|Columbia University||$63,530||$150,000 or less per year|
|Cornell University||$61,015||Less than $60,000 per year|
|Dartmouth College||$60,870||$125,000 or less per year|
|Harvard University||$55,587||Less than $75,000 per year|
|Princeton University||$56,010||Less than $160,000 per year|
|University of Pennsylvania||$61,710||Less than $140,000 per year|
|Yale University||$59,950||Less than $75,000 per year|
Let’s be clear: if you want to go to an Ivy League school, you need to be willing to work for it. It is evident that getting admission in any Ivy League university is a big ask. You probably have a better chance of becoming a millionaire (around 8%) than being accepted in an Ivy League school, though you might to complete your education before being fixated on this. However, just because it seems improbable doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and we would like to help turn the improbable into, well, less improbable, because we can’t rig the admission process. What we can do is assist you with the information and criteria important for your admission process. Here are the accepted requirements for an Ivy League applicant:
- Average GPA: 3.8/4.0
- TOEFL iBT: 100 or higher
- IELTS: 7.5 or higher
- GRE average scores: 155- 170 for all subjects
- LSAT: 173 or higher
- MCAT: 36.6 or higher
- Letters of Recommendation
- Personal Statement
Not all Ivy League Schools have a set GPA requirement, because it’s implied that anyone applying will have a near-perfect GPA. Ivy League applicants reportedly have a 3.8 GPA or higher, so its safer if your academic performance is in the same stratosphere.
If you’re an international student looking to study abroad in an Ivy League university, SAT and/orACT scored will go a long way into bumping up your application rank. For the SAT, students have a median verbal score of 700 – 755, and a median math score of 730 – 760 (you can understand why acceptance rates are not skyrocketing for these Ivy League schools).Aside from these, you also need to take IELTS/TOEFL and GRE to increase your odds of competing with the best students from around the world.
Ivy League schools often require 3 letters of recommendation: two from teachers and one from your counsellor. Be sure to choose teachers who not only knowhow good you are academically, but are also aware of your character and traits. A teacher vouching for the kind of person you are in addition to your academic performance is what Ivy League schools (or any of the top universities for that matter) look for.
Believe it or not, this is the first interaction you have with the admissions committee. Your personal statement is dissected and factored into your admission chances more than you think. Therefore, it is very important that you humanize your essay, and make them feel as if they were listening to you in person. If you have free reign to write the essay, you can come up with numerous brilliant topics. However, if you are to pick from a given set of topics, take your time, and choose the one which you resonate with the most, and can write a compelling story on for the committee. It is more about being personal than it is gloating about what you have achieved academically. There are thousands of applications with the same achievements as yours, don’t waste everyone’s time by telling them what they already know.
If you go back to the start of this blog, you can recall that the foundation of the Ivy League is built upon athletic ability of students. These universities don’t just want bookworms or one-dimensional characteristics – they need multi-talented people, who have the potential to excel not just on paper, but in real life. Extracurricular activities reflect your commitment to what you do, whether it be sports, community service, or your school clubs. Having activities outside of your study help you get different experiences and learn more about life. Ivy League schools are the best in the world for a reason: they produce leaders by the thousands.
The purpose of this guide is to make students understand just how competitive it actually is to get into an Ivy League school. However, if you are reading this by any chance, you probably do have what it takes to study abroad at the most prestigious colleges in USA, and the world.