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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 in the collegiate athletic conference known as the Ivy League. 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, and 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, the Hidden Ivies we are exploring, 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 CollegeBarnard CollegeBates CollegeBoston CollegeBowdoin CollegeBrandeis University
Bryn Mawr CollegeBucknell UniversityCarleton CollegeCase Western Reserve UniversityClaremont McKenna CollegeColby College
Colgate UniversityCollege of the Holy CrossColorado CollegeDavidson CollegeDenison UniversityDickinson College
Duke UniversityEmory UniversityFordham UniversityFranklin and Marshall CollegeGeorgetown UniversityGrinnell College
Hamilton CollegeHaverford CollegeJohns Hopkins University Kenyon College Lafayette CollegeLehigh University
Macalester CollegeMiddlebury CollegeMount Holyoke CollegeNorthwestern UniversityOberlin CollegePomona College
Reed CollegeRice UniversitySkidmore CollegeSmith CollegeSouthern Methodist UniversityStanford University
Swarthmore College Trinity CollegeTufts UniversityTulane UniversityUnion CollegeUniversity of Chicago
University of Notre DameUniversity of RichmondUniversity of RochesterUniversity of Southern California University of the SouthVanderbilt University
Vassar College Villanova UniversityWake Forest UniversityWashington and Lee UniversityWashington University in St. LouisWellesley College
Wesleyan UniversityWilliams 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. 

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, and schools pay attention to more than just academics. However, you should still try to maintain a high grade point average 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.