What are the Little Ivies?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Sure, everyone’s heard of the Ivy League universities, but are you familiar with the Little Ivy League schools? As an unofficial group of prestigious colleges, they offer a similar rigorous educational experience to that boasted by the Ivy Leagues. Since these schools are small, they are referred to as ‘Little Ivies’. Keep reading as we delve into what are the Little Ivies and whether one is the right fit for you.

What is a Little Ivy School?What is a Little Ivy School?

Consisting of private liberal arts schools in New England, a Little Ivy school is a part of the New England Small College Athletic Conference colleges, and various ones outside the region. Typically, elite liberal arts institutions such as Vassar, Tufts, and Amherst appear on the Little Ivies’ list.

With small student bodies, these places focus exclusively on undergraduate education. Although most Ivy Leagues and Public Ivies have several graduate programs, most Little Ivies merely provide undergraduate degrees.

How Many Little Ivies Are There?

How Many Little Ivies Are There?

So, exactly how many Little Ivies are there? There are fifteen Little Ivies, with each being extremely selective when it comes to the admissions process. If you’re interested in an individualized, challenging undergraduate experience, look no further than these Ivies because they host beautiful campuses and offer exceptional academics.

Norms like an interdisciplinary learning environment and an open curriculum are common, with various study abroad and dual degree options available at partner schools both nationally and globally.

List of Little Ivy League Schools

List of Little Ivy League Schools

Let’s now answer the question of which colleges are Little Ivies:

Williams College

At William, success is guaranteed because it has a graduation rate of 95%. The institution is focused on fostering meaningful relationships between teachers and students through hands-on programs like the Tutorials Program. With these connections, you will undoubtedly build a network that will help support and propel your future career to considerable heights.

Wesleyan University

As one of the few Little Ivies to include a graduate degree program, Wesleyan students have the opportunity to continue their education at their alma mater for a master’s or doctorate degree. The school is dedicated to providing a learning environment that promotes a blend of practical idealism and critical thinking.

Vassar College

Vassar College is located in Poughkeepsie, New York and is well-known for its beautiful campus. It was one of the first women’s colleges to extend coeducation, hence the emphasis on equal opportunities and education for both women and men.

Tufts University

Students get to choose between four different campuses in the Boston area if they’re admitted to this research university. Tufts maintains the ‘Pax et Lux’ spirit, which translates to ‘Peace and Light’. And, you guessed it, the college wants students to use their knowledge to help others.

Trinity College

If you’re looking for a significant financial aid package to support your undergraduate education, we recommend applying to Trinity College. It is one of four schools that recently collaborated with the Schuler Education Foundation to collect around $60 million for a financial aid initiative. This funding has been allotted to help bright low-income students that show potential.

Swarthmore College

Although Swarthmore College only has an acceptance rate under 10%, filling out the application is worth it. Not only will you get to call a stunning, huge campus your home for four years, but you can also win prizes for cutting-edge research projects. It also has the popular Scott Arboretum that grows into more than 4000 plant species.

Middlebury College

Many Fulbright winners are Middlebury graduates, which is saying a lot. The Fulbright Program is an educational exchange program that rewards various students with grants every year.

Lafayette College

Enjoy the freedom to create your own major and discover your own path at Lafayette College. Whether you pick one of the institution’s 51 study areas or choose a mixture of two departments, the administration and staff will be there to facilitate you every step of the way.

Haverford College

Having a 1 to 9 faculty-student ratio and a 92% graduation rate, Haverford is a great choice for students who prefer a close-knit classroom environment to learn and want more one-on-one time with their professors.

Hamilton College

While Hamilton College’s acceptance rate is a mere 18%, you shouldn’t stress because there’s various resources you can use to improve your chances of getting in. For example, the school considers supplemental essays a crucial part of the admissions process and even provides successful sample essays with tips on how to write yours.

Connecticut College

Attending Connecticut College entails getting the opportunity to explore its new, unique curriculum called Connections. It’s a liberal arts education that incorporates advising teams, seminars, and much more.

Colby College

You’ll have to perfect your Colby College application because this liberal arts school only admits 10% of applicants yearly, and the number seems to keep dropping. Luckily, applying here means that you don’t need to write any supplemental essays, but then your extracurricular activities and community work should be excellent enough to stand out.

Bowdoin College

Bowdoin wants nothing more than the best for both its community and students. If you’re going to apply, take some time and consider what doing good entails for you. Your supplemental essay should highlight how you’ll contribute to the Bowdoin community and why you think you’re a good fit.

Bates College

With an almost perfect graduation rate of 91%, Bates College is bound to prepare you for a successful future. Not only are the professors always willing to help you achieve your goals, but you also don’t need to take the SAT or ACT to apply. It truly is a dream come true!

Amherst College

If any college knows anything about making college affordable, it’s Amherst. The school’s average financial aid package stands at $50,000, enabling students from low-income families to apply and study without hurdles.

How Selective are Little Ivies?

How Selective are Little Ivies?

Due to their prestige and competitive admission processes, getting into a Little Ivy can be difficult. Like the Ivy Leagues, the Little Ivies’ acceptance rates are notoriously low and often hover around single-digit percentages. This means that these schools receive an overwhelming number of applications from qualified individuals vying for limited spots.

Suppose you’re wondering how to get into the Little Ivies and improve your chances of securing admission. In that case, you should have stellar standardized test scores, demonstrate a solid commitment to extracurriculars, and possess exceptional academic records. After all, Little Ivies want students who showcase leadership skills, intellectual curiosity and the drive to make a difference in their chosen field.

What is the Easiest Little Ivy to Get Into?

What is the Easiest Little Ivy to Get Into?

One of the easiest Little Ivies to get into is Connecticut College, with an acceptance rate of 40.4%. Still, you should aim for a high GPA throughout high school and score in the 75th percentile of the SAT or ACT to improve your chances of getting in. Some popular majors at this private liberal arts university include Economics, Political Science and Government, and Psychology.

How are Little Ivies Different Compared to Traditional Ivy Leagues?

How are Little Ivies Different Compared to Traditional Ivy Leagues?

In this section, we’ll consider what makes Little Ivies different than the traditional Ivy Leagues:

Little Ivies Offer Greater Scholarship Opportunities

Little Ivies typically possess sizable endowments for a small number of students because of their general elite status and much smaller student body. Consequently, their private status allows them to offer various generous scholarships and ensure that admitted students don’t have to be put off on a budget.

In contrast, the Ivy Leagues have a greater number of students while holding much smaller endowments, which means that there’s less funding available for grabs.

Little Ivies Focus More on Undergraduate Education

As we’ve mentioned previously, Little Ivies are distinct because they usually focus their sole attention on undergraduate education. For example, Amherst doesn’t offer any graduate programs. Meanwhile, both the Public Ivies and Ivy Leagues are known to have rigorous graduate degrees and offerings.

Little Ivies Have Smaller Class Sizes

Calling all students who aren’t big fans of busy seminars and large lecture classes! If you want a peaceful atmosphere where you can develop your thoughts and concepts, look no further than the Little Ivies. These institutions provide more intimate class settings, enabling students to feel more confident when exploring ideas with familiar faces. We recommend opting for a Little Ivy over a traditional one if you prefer smaller student-to-teacher classroom ratios and class sizes.

Little Ivies Boast Tight-Knit Communities

Little Ivies are a great bet for those who want the full collegiate experience. You’ll be able to interact with most faculty and students on campus, forming meaningful relationships that are bound to last for a lifetime. At a Little Ivy, people are more willing to help you and engage in interesting debates revolving around real-world problems.

Of course, that isn’t to say that the environment at Ivy League schools isn’t enriching, but the large student bodies make it difficult to get to know your peers and professors on a deeper level.

Little Ivies Encourage More Interaction with Faculty Members

Not everyone is keen on self-directed learning, with some students vying for more one-to-one time with faculty. Little Ivies have smaller student: faculty ratios, meaning that professors have more time to interact with their students and help them with their coursework problems and queries.

3 Tips for Applying to Little Ivies

3 Tips for Applying to Little Ivies

Here’s some tips on how to improve your chances of getting into a Little Ivy if you’re interested in applying:

Research Specific Colleges

There’s no doubt that researching colleges is an essential step to determining the schools best suited for you. While all the Little Ivies are top-notch and prestigious, some of them may not align with your goals and values. Research available programs at every school and compare the offerings to your interests and passions.

Additionally, evaluate what programs, clubs, and other extracurriculars are offered and whether they’ll help nurture your academic and personal beliefs. If you can, visit campuses, talk to current students, sit in on a class, etc. to get a feel for the university’s culture.

Maintain a High GPA

The admissions teams of Little Ivies use your high school GPA to measure your academic aptitude. If you strive for a high GPA throughout high school, you won’t have to fret about strengthening your college application as much in your senior year.

Seek out resources that help boost your GPA, whether that’s through a club, an after-school program, a tutor, or any other way you can get the necessary support you need to remain at the top of your class. And we also recommend taking on challenging classes like AP or IB courses.

Develop Your Interests

Little Ivies are interested in students with unique and diverse hobbies. Keep in mind that they care about more than just your test scores and grades. These prestigious institutions want to see how you’ll contribute to their culture and traditions. For this reason, you should explore different things until you determine what you love to do, whether that’s playing a sport or joining a club.

A well-rounded application doesn’t just help you stand out to college admission teams, but it also helps you grow and obtain the skills required to tackle the Little Ivy rigorous college life.

Wrapping Things Up: What are the Little Ivies?

Looking at the Little Ivies ranking and their acceptance rates, we now know that these lesser-known universities are highly selective. They all hold a certain historical prestige, high academic standards, and tight-knit communities that make them great options for pursuing your undergraduate degree. If you want to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone, don’t rule out applying to a Little Ivy.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...