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The Ivy League: Eight Distinct College Experiences

At Avalon Admission, we specialize in making strong cases for Ivy League acceptance by presenting students as individuals likely to make a positive difference in the world. We expertly weave together seemingly disparate elements of a student’s academic accomplishments and life experiences into a cohesive narrative that encourages a sense of confidence on the part of Ivy League admissions committees.

Meet the Ivy League Colleges

There are certainly commonalities among the eight Ivy League colleges, but there are also elements that make each of them unique. The commonalities include strong endowments, loyal alumni, diverse student body, world class professors, incredible connections in a variety of fields, an unsurpassed and life-changing educational experience, and campus-wide energy and enthusiasm among their student bodies.


Always at or near of the top of everyone’s list of best colleges, Harvard is the oldest college in America, founded nearly 400 years ago in 1636. As such it is steeped in tradition, and unsurpassed in the quality of its programs, research, professors, and overall academic experience. It is relatively small, with less than 7000 undergraduates spread across more than 50 majors. Many of its classes are small, with less than 20 students. While earning your LAS (Liberal Arts and Science) degree, you can choose from over 50 concentrations, many of which are interdisciplinary. About a third of classes at Harvard satisfy core requirements, while the rest satisfy a concentration or dual concentrations. You would be hard pressed to find a concentration that is not considered among the best and most respected throughout the world.


Yale has around 6500 undergraduates. It is best known for its residential housing policy, its eclectic architecture, and its outstanding programs in the social sciences and performing arts. In particular, it’s History, Sociology, Anthropology Psychology, and Music departments are among the best in the world. Yale is consistently ranked in the top five colleges in America. Students live in one of 14 residential areas, and Yale believes that its residential colleges, including longstanding traditions and "secret societies" foster a strong sense of community and cooperation among students


Princeton is nearly 300 years old, and so enjoys status as one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It is one of the smaller Ivies in terms of its student body, with around 5500 undergraduates. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 5 colleges in America. It is widely known as a leading research institution, and offers 55 majors or “certificates.” A large percentage of its classes have less than 20 students, and feature instruction from an impressive faculty made up of world class professors, Nobel laureates, PhDs and some of the most respected minds in their respective fields. It has one of the lowest teacher to student ratios in America at 5:1. Like many of the Ivies, Princeton is highly ranked among a wide variety of disciplines, including Social Science, Science, Engineering, Public Administration, and the Arts. It’s academic focus is largely cross disciplinary, encouraging students to become immersed in a wide variety of courses across many different fields.


Columbia is nearly 300 years old, and like many of the other Ivies it is small at only 7500 undergraduates and offers a world-class educational experience. It is composed of three schools: Columbia College, The Fu School of Engineering, and the School of General Studies, the last of these is mainly for non-traditional students such as those returning to their education after having taken some time off for various reasons. Many people love the fact that it is a true campus school located in the heart of New York City. As such it offers students the best of both worlds, with seemingly unlimited resources and a number of highly ranked programs including Social Sciences, Biological and Biomedical Studies, Engineering, Writing, Film Studies, Computer and Informational Science, and Math – all fueled by its proximity to the world’s Arts and Commerce hub of New York City.

U Penn

The University of Pennsylvania is nearly 300 years old and was founded by none other than Benjamin Franklin. It is the second largest Ivy League school with an undergraduate population of over 10,000 students. Penn, as it is referred to, is home to four undergraduate schools: The College of Arts and Sciences; The School of Nursing; Penn Engineering; The Wharton School of Business. While all four schools are highly regarded, the Wharton School is considered by most to be the top undergraduate business school in the world. As Penn encourage a diverse academic experience, most students take courses across many, if not all, of the four schools. Some of its interdisciplinary programs are: Fisher Program in Management and Technology, the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, and the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management. Its two most popular programs are Business and Social Science.


Cornell is the “youngest” and largest of all the Ivies. It was founded in 1865 and has a total undergraduate population of around 15,000 students. It sits on a picturesque campus in Ithaca (upstate), New York. The undergraduate college is made up of seven schools, including the School of Agriculture and Life Science, the College or Architecture, Art, and Planning, the College of Arts and Sciences, SC Johnson School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Human Ecology, and the Schools of Industrial and Labor. Relations. It has world class programs in Agriculture, Hotel Administration, Applied Social Sciences, and Labor Relations. Cornell has more than 1000 clubs, and a large Greek system which comprises more than 60 fraternities and sororities.


Dartmouth is the smallest of the Ivies with an undergraduate class of 4400 students. It is located on a picturesque Campus in Hanover, NH. It was founded in 1769. A large percentage of its students are involved in Greek life as members of a fraternity or sorority, which collectively form the primary social hub at Dartmouth. The most popular majors are Economics, Government and Computer Science. Dartmouth is well known as a leading research institution and has created a robust research infrastructure. As such, most undergraduates participate in meaningful research, even what might be considered graduate-level research, with their professors. Students can elect majors, modified majors, dual majors, or majors combined with minors.


Brown University was founded in 1764 and has a total undergraduate population of 7,400 students. It is best known for its Open Curriculum by which students select courses of interest before diving into their focused concentration, rather than being required to take a predetermined core of classes, as is the case at other colleges. The most popular majors at Brown are: Computer Science; Econometrics and Quantitative Economics; Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies; Biology/Biological Sciences; and Engineering.

Acceptance Rates

Acceptance rates at Ivy league schools are between 3.7% (Harvard 2022) and 10%, which in practical terms means that they reject 10-25 times as many students as they accept. While getting into the Ivies is obviously quite challenging, knowing how to present students in the best possible light can significantly improve the odds of success. For students with all-star statistics (test scores, GPA’s etc.), having anything less than stellar applications can negatively impact the likelihood of acceptance. Applications prepared by NC Global’s team of admission experts have yielded significantly better outcomes, including far more likely acceptance into Ivy League colleges and universities.