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For students considering studying in the USA, it is essential to know about the many undergraduate experiences the USA offers based on the uniqueness of each school and the specific goals and desires of the students.

In 2006, the term “New Ivies” was created by Newsweek to label the emerging high-quality universities gaining global attention, comparable to Ivy League universities in terms of rigorous education. The term was created to further ensure that people understood that the education quality of Ivy League and other top US schools are on the same level, which has helped international applicants to start targeting top programs that can perfectly match their dreams and desires.

Undoubtedly, an Ivy League education is impressive, and the names of schools carry clout. Yet, within the development of the USA and its 50 states, each developing their own schools, the powerhouse of education continues, and many other schools started demanding respect and recognition. The New Ivies on this list have an R1 Carnegie Classification, meaning they are a research-heavy institution that offers various practical research and innovative projects.

Do You Know the Schools Beyond the Name?

To speak in cliches, when it comes to colleges and universities, one should not judge a book by its cover, name, or general ranking. Instead, it is important to understand the various types of education experiences students can have during their undergrad.

When looking at the two most popular options in Singapore, NUS and NTU, we see excellent academics and world-leading research with large student communities with around ~25,000+ undergrad students each year. Yet, the New Ivies on the list will offer different lifestyles, communities, and access, with all schools having less than 10,000 undergraduate students each year. Previous New Ivy students often mention the intimate relationships and closeness that students feel with their professors and communities, which can differ greatly from various types of schools.

Networking, research/project access, and meaningful internship connections continue to be a vital part of the Ivy League and now New Ivies. With the price of education being so high and so many established options in the USA, it is essential to find the best schools/communities that match you based on your specific needs and lifestyle.

Prestige, Legacy, and Questioning Legacy

While we often hold famous institutions in high regard for their academic prowess and research achievements, we often hear less about critical views of individual experiences there. Yet, we can see admission officers from Harvard and students at Columbia write and question the Ivy League in various ways. One of the biggest questions raised in both articles relates to the student community at Ivy League schools. The Columbia student questions what they can learn from wealthy kids who have had their pathways made for them. Considering that Ivy League Schools reserve a large chunk of space for “legacy admits,” or admission based on the fact that their family member had studied there, many in the USA feel that there is nepotism and an unfair playing ground with these famous eight schools.

A former Harvard student and now admission officer goes deeper and makes even more severe statements like:

“Harvard…is a place where everyone is out to get everyone else. In a place where no one can be the best at everything, everyone takes any chance they can get to measure up to their peers. It is a mob of ruthless young overachievers with a taste for blood.”

While this is a bit dramatic and certainly not the experience of all Harvard graduates, from the college counseling perspective, students and families must consider the environment they will be entering based on their top program choices. One must be realistic about what gathering a group of some of the most wealthy and high-achieving students worldwide will look like. Some students, by their nature, thrive in competitive and more cut-throat environments, while others seek the exact opposite experience for their undergrad.

While the New Ivies on our list still have competition and offer highly challenging programs, New Ivies have been seen as having a “slightly more relaxed student body.” It has been noted that New Ivies show different cultures and values, focusing less on their historic fame or prestige. Instead, they continually produce significant research, outstanding student experiences, and groundbreaking actions to keep them developing their name and brand as “New Ivies”.

More straightforwardly, New Ivies are seen as “workhorse” research universities fostering top talent and hard workers. While the Ivy League carries a similar research excellence reputation, there is also more prestige, classism, and nepotism associated with these schools, which can offer various pros and cons depending on the context and person.

Students and parents need to be honest with themselves and consider the experience they need for their future and lifestyle, as the undergraduate experience is a considerable investment and a way for students to get onto career and research tracks.

Thinking holistically and practically to find the programs and places where you can thrive!

The Ultimate Guide To "New Ivy" Colleges

Don’t lean too hard into names and prestige – pick a school that works for you

Here at Prep Zone, we wanted to share some of our favorite New Ivy options that have offered our previous students great resources. Many students will mix Ivy League and New Ivies on their list after identifying the programs and schools that provide what they need the most.

For example, one previous student ultimately found that her best overall option for schools was Northwestern based on its top-ranking journalism program and its unique quarter academic year, instead of the typical two-semester system. Since she wanted to double major in Journalism and Statistics, with Northwestern’s quarters, she could take more courses in her time there and build up more tech skills, which would help her become a finance/economics reporter/researcher. Meanwhile, she was keen to find work experience in a major city, but she didn’t like “cramped” NYC. Northwestern’s proximity and connections to Chicago made it a great choice.

The list shows some great New Ivy schools that offer students exceptional educational opportunities and learning communities. Some of the top New Ivies have acceptance rates similar to traditional Ivies, and all offer unique and exciting experiences based on their location and learning community. So before making a school list, be sure to understand the options out there fully, and depending on the academic and career goals each student brings, consider the options that offer the best fit!

John Hopkins University (JHU)

  • #7 in National Universities
  • Baltimore, Maryland
Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is a private institution that was founded in 1876. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,132. With its smaller undergraduate community in Baltimore, students appreciate having ample opportunities in the close-knit community with access to Maryland’s largest city and its population of 576,498. The university’s motto is ‘Knowledge for the world,’ and it encourages medical students to take medical electives in 19 countries. All students pursuing a BA in general engineering are encouraged to spend at least one semester studying abroad.

It has been ranked as the Best College for Public Health in America and 7th best College for Biology in America. While ranking high in engineering and other interdisciplinary STEM science research, JHU has a long tradition and significant reputation for producing top-notch medical professionals and researchers.

Johns Hopkins - National Ranking

Johns Hopkins – National Ranking

Top Majors:

  • Cell/Cellular and Molecular Biology – 12%
  • Neuroscience – 10%
  • Computer and Information Sciences – 10%
  • Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering – 8%
  • Public Health – 8%

Northwestern University

  • #10 in National Universities (tie)
  • Evanston, IL

Northwestern University is a private institution founded in 1851 with a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,494. Many former students love the suburban location next to the Great Lake Michigan, with Chicago a quick train ride away, giving a mixture of a cozy campus with access to the vibrant city of Chicago. Its quarter system during the average school year offers three quarters with special “summer sessions” or special summer experiences, making up the optional fourth quarter.

Having a location in the heart of the Midwest, unlike many famous schools that we see on the East and West Coast, former students have appreciated the lifestyle and culture of the American Midwest, stating that they enjoyed the friendly and highly collaborative culture. Meanwhile, former students have praised the ample internship, research, and professional development. Yet, for haters of cold and snow, beware, as Northwestern is definitely for those who want to experience “cold-climate” culture during the winters.

Northwestern University National Ranking

Northwestern University National Ranking

Top Majors:

  • Social Sciences – 21%
  • Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs – 14%
  • Engineering – 12%
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences – 4%
  • Visual and Performing Arts – 4%

Duke University

  • #10 in National Universities (tie)
  • Durham, NC
Duke University

Duke University

Duke University was founded in 1838 with an undergraduate enrollment of 6,883. While Duke’s research prowess is vast, the community is still smaller than most large research institutes, giving students a connection with their teachers and excellent research opportunities. The student-faculty ratio is 6:1, and 70% of its classes have fewer than 20 students. Meanwhile, as the number 2 school in the nation for student-athletes and with a general culture of sports enthusiasts, Duke University is a school where jocks and nerds unite. Duke’s freshman retention rate of 98% shows high student satisfaction.

The most popular majors at Duke University include: Computer Science, Biology/Biological Sciences, Econometrics & Quantitative Economics, Research & Experimental Psychology, Computer Engineering, Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.

A major consideration for applying to Duke is the community it has created with its neighbouring school, the University of North Carolina, a consistently top-ranking public university known as a science park where numerous high-tech companies have found their launching pad. Duke is an excellent option for students interested in finding work experiences after graduation, internships, and practical experiences as it leverages its connections with the science park; many of the company founders are Duke alums. For students whose scores are not up to Duke’s level, UNC is a highly recommended option loved by many students looking to get work and research experiences within the science park in innovative and groundbreaking companies.

Duke University National Ranking

Duke University National Ranking

Rice

  • #15 in National Universities (tie)
  • Houston, TX
Rice University

Rice University

Rice University was founded in 1912 and has a small undergraduate enrollment of 4,247. Rice boasts a charming sprawling campus just 3 miles from downtown Houston. Rice takes inspiration from Oxford University with its nine residential colleges, giving each student a unique opportunity to belong to a more intimate group by joining houses with traditions and events. Each college has a “faculty master” selected by students, other masters, and the president.

The emphasis on student-faculty interaction is echoed in the classroom, where the median class size is 15. About 40 percent of students double-major, often pairing economics with various topics and focusing on engineering with its historical connection to NASA as a partner research school for major rocket and test launches in Texas. Rice also boasts a freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, of 97%.

The most popular majors at Rice University include: Computer & Information Sciences, Economics, General Psychology, Mechanical Engineering, Biochemistry, Bioengineering & Biomedical Engineering, Exercise Science & Kinesiology, Political Science & Government, and Sport & Fitness Administration/Management.

Rice University National Ranking

Rice University National Ranking

Boston College

  • #36 in National Universities
  • Chestnut Hill, MA
Boston College

Boston College

Boston College is a research university located in Chestnut Hill, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1863, Boston College is renowned for its academic excellence. It also strives to keep its learning community intimate, with around 9,000 undergraduate spaces offered each year.

The school strives to offer close connections and thus has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1, with 49.4% of its classes having fewer than 20 students. It also offers students access to the startup and finance hub of Boston. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 95%.

The most popular majors at Boston College include: Finance, Economics, Biology/Biological Sciences, Political Science & Government, Speech Communication & Rhetoric, Psychology, Applied Psychology, Computer Science, and Marketing/Marketing Management.

Boston College National Ranking

Boston College National Ranking

Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 with a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,111.

Vanderbilt University has consistently been one of the most prestigious and most selective universities in the United States, with an acceptance rate of only 9%. Vanderbilt received over 25,000 applications for its first-year class this year and admitted just over 2,200 students.

Vanderbilt boasts some of the nation’s top researchers, and recently, Vanderbilt professor Muhammad Yunis was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on microfinance. And former Vice President Al Gore is a member of Vanderbilt’s faculty. Located in the unique city of Nashville, known for its music scene, it has a lot to offer in terms of culture, dining, and nightlife.

Like most New Ivies, Vanderbilt prides itself on the student connection with a student-faculty ratio at Vanderbilt University of 8:1, and the school has 60.5% of its classes with fewer than 20 students. Meanwhile, it routinely boasts a high average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, of 97%.

Vanderbilt National Ranking

Vanderbilt National Ranking

Tufts

  • #32 in National Universities
  • Medford, MA
Tuft

Tuft

Tufts is a research university located in Medford, Massachusetts. The university was founded in 1852 and currently has four branches. Tufts is known for its diverse student body. Of admitted students, about 56% are students of colour, and 11% are international students representing 84 different citizenships. Tufts celebrates the diverse experiences of students known for being intellectually playful, down-to-earth, driven, and civic-minded. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,676. Some famous alumni of Tufts University include Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft as well as James Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase since 2005.

With close student-faculty relationships, Tufts focuses on fostering a culture of research and innovation. The student-faculty ratio at Tufts University is 10:1, and 63.2% of its classes have fewer than 20 students. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 95%.

The most popular majors at Tufts University include: Social Sciences, Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Computer & Information Sciences & Support Services, Engineering, Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, Psychology, Foreign Languages, Literature & Linguistics, Health Professions, and Mathematics & Statistics.

Tuft National Ranking

Tuft National Ranking

Emory University

Emory

Emory

Emory University is a prestigious research institution founded in 1836. Emory is located in Atlanta, Georgia, and it has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,130.

It boasts strong research, and Emory Healthcare, the largest healthcare provider in Georgia, ranks consistently among the best hospitals nationwide. In 2014, Emory made headlines when it became the first hospital in the United States to treat patients with Ebola virus disease.

Students often cite Emory’s Atlanta location, which makes it easy to get internships and jobs. Meanwhile, many projects and actions connect students to issues in Atlanta, as Emory University is a vibrant community of scholars and learners committed to making a difference in the world.

The most popular majors at Emory University include: Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse, Business Administration & Management, Biology/Biological Sciences, Neuroscience, Econometrics & Quantitative Economics, Psychology, Political Science & Government, Sports & Kinesiology, Statistics, and Computer Science.

Emory National Ranking

Emory National Ranking

Carnegie Mellon University

  • #22 in National Universities
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University was founded in 1900 and has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,365. It has a famous history as being a major national research university. Carnegie Mellon serves 5,500 undergrads in seven colleges, reflecting CMU’s academic diversity. Last year, CMU received a record 18,864 applications and admitted 6,357. Engineering is the most popular major overall, but business is catching up.

CMU is known for fostering entrepreneurial spirit as the staff, faculty, students, and alums have created or launched more than 170 companies from the university since 1995. It reflects CMU’s sterling academics focused on practical projects. Meanwhile, 15 faculty members and alums are Nobel laureates. While some students prefer larger, more famous cities, others prefer less dense experiences and enjoy the charm of Pittsburgh. “We have all the amenities of a nice-sized city, but not the hustle and bustle of a city like Chicago or New York,” says Mike Hall, associate director of admission.

The student-faculty ratio at Carnegie Mellon University is 6:1, and the school has 69.4% of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 97%.

The most popular majors at Carnegie Mellon University include: Computer Science, Business Administration & Management, Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Statistics, Systems Science & Theory; Architectural & Building Sciences/Technology, Chemical Engineering; Drama & Dramatics/Theatre Arts, and Materials Science.

Carnegie Mellon University National Ranking

Carnegie Mellon University National Ranking

Washington University in St. Louis

  • #15 in National Universities
  • St. Louis, MO
Washington University

Washington University

Washington University in St. Louis was founded in 1853 and has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,034. Like many New Ivies, WashU offers a small community inside a smaller metropolitan city. St. Louis offers the ideal balance of small-town feel and big-city opportunities that will connect students to real-world projects and companies. WashU prides itself on a rich research history and encourages students to work alongside faculty leading their fields on research projects. To achieve this, the student-faculty ratio is 7:1, and the school has 65.7% of classes with fewer than 20 students. The average freshman retention rate is 96%.

The most popular majors at Washington University in St. Louis include: Computer Science, Experimental Psychology, Finance, Biology/Biological Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Econometrics & Quantitative Economics, Political Science & Government, Medical Anthropology, Bioengineering & Biomedical Engineering, and International/Globalization Studies.

Washington University National Ranking

Washington University National Ranking

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Tyler

Author Tyler

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