What are they "Little Ivies," a "Little threesome," a "Hidden Ivies?"

Most people know Ivy League colleges and have a pretty good idea that attending one of them is extremely prestigious. There are many, many other colleges that are academically very strict and difficult to get to. The terms The Little Three, The Little Ivies and The Hidden Ivies are sometimes confusing to follow. Not only do they have similar names, I was shocked to hear that some parents had never heard of some colleges and did not realize the magnitude of success when they adopted their daughter. An explanation of the different groupings is given below. I hope the list in one place helps.

Ivy League consists of 8 schools, all of which compete in the same NCAA Division 1 athletic conference. The schools are Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell.

Ivy League schools are considered one of the most prestigious and best rated universities. According to the US News and World Report on the ranking of colleges and universities, all Ivy League institutions are in the top 15 with 5 in the top 5.

All are located in the northeastern United States.

Enrollment ranges from 4,000 to 14,000 undergraduates, making them larger than most private liberal arts colleges, but smaller than a state university. No sports scholarships are provided; financial assistance is based on need.

“Little threesome is an unofficial athletic conference of three elite liberal arts colleges: Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams. These are three of the best liberal arts colleges in the country and it is very difficult to get there. The Little Three first started competing in this triangular league in 1899 and in 1920 were nicknamed the “Little Three”. This is in contrast to the “Big Three” universities (Harvard, Yale and Princeton, HYP) in the Ivy League.

NESCAC or New England Small College Athletic Conference is an athletic conference of NCAA Division 3 11 highly selective liberal arts colleges: Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity and Tufts. There are rules regarding the length of the season, the number of competitions and the post-season competition. There are no sports scholarships; financial assistance is based solely on need.

“Little Ivies” is not an official term or group. It applies to a small group of highly selective liberal arts colleges. The list includes all colleges in NESCAC (above) except Connecticut College along with Colgate, Haverford, Swarthmore and Vassar. Note also that Tufts is no longer a small Liberal Arts College, but has become a larger research university.

As you can see, all the above colleges are highly selective, very difficult to reach and highly recognized. One of the biggest differences between the Ivy League and the “Little Ivies” would be their athletic grouping. Ivy League schools are in Division 1, which trains and competes all year round. Little Ivy Colleges are in the Division 3 athletics team and compete only during the respective sporting seasons.

For an excellent student-athlete who wanted to compete in 2 sports, NESCAC Division 3 could satisfy both academic and athletic aspirations and be a great match!

There is currently a list of the top 20 colleges and another for the top 20 universities listed in the US News and World Report on College and University Ratings. Keep in mind that there are many lists that vary. The US News rankings are most often used.

Liberal Arts College Rankings:

When colleges are rated the same, they share the same number in ().

  1. Williams College
  2. Amherst College
  3. Swarthmore College
  4. Pomona College
  5. Middlebury College
  6. Bowdoin College
  7. (6) Carleton College
  8. (6) Wellesley College
  9. Claremount McKenna College
  10. Haverford College
  11. Davidson College
  12. Washington and Lee University
  13. Wesleyan University
  14. United States Military Academy
  15. Naval Academy of the United States of America
  16. Vassar College
  17. Hamilton College
  18. Harvey Mudd College
  19. Grinnell College
  20. Smith College

Ranking of national universities:

  1. Harvard University
  2. Princeton University
  3. Yale University
  4. Columbia University
  5. California Institute of Technology
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  7. Stanford University
  8. University of Chicago
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. Duke University
  11. Dartmouth College
  12. Northwestern University
  13. Johns Hopkins University
  14. Washington University of St. Louis
  15. Brown University
  16. Cornell University
  17. Rice University
  18. Vanderbilt University
  19. University of Notre Dame
  20. Emory University

To learn more about how to ensure that your student has the best chance in the university admissions process, see http://www.harvardmomadvice.com

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