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    What Are the Hidden Ivies?

    By Varonika Ware

    Varonika Ware is a content writer at Scholarships360. Varonika earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. During her time at LSU, she worked with the Center of Academic Success to create the weekly Success Sunday newsletter. Varonika also interned at the Louisiana Department of Insurance in the Public Affairs office with some of her graphics appearing in local news articles.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: April 9th, 2024
    What Are the Hidden Ivies?

    While you might be familiar with the term “Ivy League” when referring to certain colleges and universities, there’s a chance you might not know about the “Hidden Ivies.” These schools aren’t categorized as one of the eight Ivies, but tend to offer academic programs that rival an Ivy League education.

    While all of the Hidden Ivies have stellar reputations, they are not as well-known as the eight Ivy Leagues. So, let’s get into the history of Hidden Ivies and uncover what they have to offer. 

    History of the Hidden Ivies

    College counselors Howard and Matthew Greene wrote The Hidden Ivies to highlight some of the lesser-known schools when discussing prestigious universities. The authors came up with the term in the year 2000. 

    During that time, the list of Hidden Ivies has grown from a little over 20 to over 60 schools. The goal for creating this list of schools was to give students and parents “greater awareness of a distinctive cluster of colleges and universities of excellence that are available.” 

    Overview of the Hidden Ivies

    A number of schools are dubbed Ivies, which most people think of as the eight schools in the Ivy League (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.). There are also Public Ivies, Hidden Ivies, Ivy Plus schools, and also, Little Ivies, which are mostly private liberal arts colleges that don’t include graduate programs. Interestingly, all of the Little Ivies happen to be Hidden Ivies. 

    So, what schools are Hidden Ivies? Check out the list below to find out!

    Amherst College Barnard College Bates College Boston College Bowdoin College Brandeis University
    Bryn Mawr College Bucknell University Carleton College Case Western Reserve University Claremont McKenna College Colby College
    Colgate University College of the Holy Cross Colorado College Davidson College Denison University Dickinson College
    Duke University Emory University Fordham University Franklin & Marshall College Georgetown University Grinnell College
    Hamilton College Haverford College Johns Hopkins University  Kenyon College  Lafayette College Lehigh University
    Macalester College Middlebury College Mount Holyoke College Northwestern University Oberlin College Pomona College
    Reed College Rice University Skidmore College Smith College Southern Methodist University Stanford University
    Swarthmore College  Trinity College Tufts University Tulane University Union College University of Chicago
    University of Notre Dame University of Richmond University of Rochester University of Southern California  University of the South Vanderbilt University
    Vassar College  Villanova University Wake Forest University Washington and Lee University Washington University in St. Louis Wellesley College
    Wesleyan University Williams College        

    Advantages of attending a Hidden Ivy

    Smaller classes

    Hidden Ivies have a lot of benefits for their attendees. Usually, these colleges have a smaller number of undergraduate students, which translates to smaller classroom sizes and better student-faculty ratios. This means students might have more opportunities to discuss their coursework with professors or get to know their peers a little bit easier. 

    Liberal arts college or research university?

    Hidden Ivy schools offer various types of education, ranging from liberal arts colleges to research universities. Liberal arts institutions usually emphasize liberal arts and sciences, while research schools focus primarily on, you guessed it, research. 

    Related: Liberal arts colleges vs. universities: Everything you need to know

    More affordable for some students

    Hidden Ivies offer more opportunities for high achieving students to receive merit aid since the eight main Ivies don’t offer merit-based financial aid. Fortunately, this gives applicants more options for scholarships and tuition assistance. 

    Disadvantages of attending a Hidden Ivy

    Students need more than grades

    For some students, there are some drawbacks to attending a school classified as a Hidden Ivy. Any school that’s considered an Ivy tends to be more selective in the admissions process than other colleges. 

    Often, the acceptance rates are lower, and academics are highly valued. This means that while it’s important to keep your grades up, you need to do more to stand out in your major. 

    Is a Hidden Ivy right for me?

    After reading this, you may be wondering how a Hidden Ivy might fit into your academic plans. While the schools listed above are considered a type of “Ivy,” you should choose your college based on your desired degree program along with a few other factors, such as campus life or location. Universities that are ranked highly in a major are usually well-respected in their specific field. 

    The Hidden Ivies are all different, so it will require some research to find the best fit for you. Check out each school’s website or read the supplemental essay guides on our website to find out what you need for your application. 

    Quick tips for applying to a Hidden Ivy

    There are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to apply to a Hidden Ivy. For example, you should engage in volunteer work or other activities to diversify your application. 

    A majority of the applicants will have impressive grades, but schools pay attention to more than just academics. However, you should still try to maintain a high GPA and score well on your SAT and ACT

    You should also try to be original in your supplemental essay. Use the opportunity to showcase your personality and allow admissions offices to get to know who their next student could be.

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    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Hidden Ivies are schools that offer curriculums comparable to Ivy League education 
    • There are several different types of Ivies, such as Ivy Plus, Hidden Ivies, Little Ivies, and Public Ivies
    • There are over 60 Hidden Ivies, and they can vary between liberal arts and research colleges/universities
    • Even though they’re not Ivy Leagues, you still need to be sure to have a stellar application beyond just a great GPA
    • Don’t forget to check out the supplemental essay guide for the Hidden Ivy you’re interested in applying to!
    Key Takeaways

    Frequently asked questions about the Hidden Ivies

    How many Hidden Ivies are there?

    While there are only eight Ivy League schools, there are way more Hidden Ivies to choose from. In fact, there are 63 Hidden Ivies, which include all eighteen of the Little Ivies.

    Are Hidden Ivies hard to get into?

    Hidden Ivies are not as hard to get into as Ivy Leagues, but they still have rigorous standards. They’re looking for well-rounded applicants that are involved in extracurriculars and have good GPAs.

    What’s the hardest Hidden Ivy to get into?

    The hardest Hidden Ivy to get into is Stanford University with a 4% acceptance rate. This means out of every 100 applicants, there are only four that get accepted. Following closely behind with a 6% acceptance rate is Duke University and University of Chicago.  

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