Easiest and Hardest Ivy League Schools To Get Into

Like a skyscraper, your foundation will determine how high you can go. If you are like many others, you choose to build your foundation after high school by going to college. There are many choices, but only the best will do for you.

You have decided to put your name among Rashida Jones, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffet as Ivy League Alumni. Here are the Hardest and Easiest (If you can call it that) Ivy League Schools to get into starting with the hardest.

The Hardest

These colleges are the most selective of the Eight Ivy League schools; they have the lowest acceptance rates for the class of 2023. The margin between these schools is slim, but knowing what to expect before you apply, can make all the difference and help you choose the right school for you.

Harvard University

Founded in 1636 and located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard tops our list as the hardest Ivy League school to get an application accepted.

According to Harvard Admissions, from a total of 43,330 applicants, only 2,008 were admitted to the college. These numbers calculate to a 4.6% acceptance rate.

When it comes to test scores, most students admitted scored from 1470-1570 for the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively. On the ACT, 33 represented the 25th percentile, and 35 represented the 75th percentile.

Harvard boasts the most extensive academic library in the world, with 20.4 million volumes. It is also home to several museums that hold 28 million works combined. Harvard is headed by Lawrence S. Bacow, who is the 29th president of the university.

Recent graduates obtained degrees in Law, Business, and Medical programs. If you are looking to pursue a career in one of these fields or are just intrigued that Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education, it may be the place for you.

Columbia University

Founded in 1754 and located in New York, New York, Columbia University is the second hardest Ivy League school to have an application accepted.

According to Columbia University Admissions, from a total of 42,569 applicants, only 2,247 were admitted to the college. That is effectively a 5.3% acceptance rate.

The average test scores for the SAT and the ACT were 1480-1560 and 33-35, respectively. Although their average test scores are in line with Harvard, they are still not as selective by a very slim margin.

Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York. Lee C. Bollinger is president of the university, and he took the position in 2002 and is the 19th person to do so.

Recent graduates obtained degrees in Business, Engineering, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). GSAS degrees include Art History and Archaeology, Political Science, and Philosophy.

If any of those pique your interest, Columbia University may be right for you.

Princeton University

Founded in 1746 and located in Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton is the third hardest Ivy league school to get an application accepted.

According to their admission statistics, out of a total of 32,804 applicants, only 1,896 were admitted to the college. That comes out to about a 5.8% acceptance rate.

The average SAT scores admitted ranged from 750-800 for math and between 710-770 for reading and writing. Average ACT scores ranged from 33-35. These scores put them in line with the first two schools on our list.

Princeton is the fourth oldest college in the country. It predates the revolutionary war and has been led by Christopher Eisgruber since 2013, who is the 20th person to preside as president of the college.

The majority of the graduates from the class of 2019 received Bachelor of Arts degrees. This type of degree can prepare you for careers in Marketing, Design, or law.

Yale University

Founded in 1701 and located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale rounds out our four hardest Ivy League schools to get an application accepted.

With a 6.2% acceptance rate, Yale received a total of 36,844 applicants, which works out to about 2,284 admitted for the class of 2023.

The majority of SAT scores submitted by first-year applicants ranged from 760-800 for reading, writing, and Math. ACT scores showed a majority spread of 32-36. These scores put Yale on par with our first three schools.

Yale is led by Peter Salovey, who became president of the university in 2013. The school is located about 90 minutes from New York and is home to 14 million library holdings. Although its library is not as big as Harvard’s, it should be able to satisfy even the most dedicated book worm.

The majority of recent graduates were able to find employment either full-time, part-time, or temporary, and this is good news as it can be very disappointing to get your degree but not be able to find a job.

The Easiest

These colleges are more receptive to applicants than the first four Ivy League schools but not by much. Being more receptive does not mean less prestigious, going to any one of the following four schools will allow you to build a solid foundation.

Brown University

Founded in 1764 and located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown begins our list of easiest Ivy League schools to get an application accepted.

With an acceptance rate of 6.6%, Brown accepts 2% more applicants than our hardest school to get into Harvard. That works out to about 2,552 admissions out of 38,674 applicants.

Although Brown did not report the average SAT and ACT scores for those admitted, you can expect them to be around the same ranges as our earlier schools. Brown may accept more applicants, but they still have a high bar compared to Non-Ivy League Schools.

A self-described research university, Brown played an essential role in the revolutionary war. The university was used to house American troops, and the school was closed for six years in response to British advances. Brown is led by Christina Paxson, who took the helm in 2012 and is the university’s 19th president.

2019 saw Brown celebrate 1,199 graduates who obtained master’s degrees and medical degrees, and this was the largest group ever to do so and should give you confidence if you are considering Brown.

University of Pennsylvania

Founded in 1740 and located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn for short) is next on our list of easiest Ivy League Schools to get an application accepted.

With an acceptance rate of 7.7%, Penn admitted 3,446 out of 44,961 applicants, which places the university as the 3rd easiest Ivy League school to get an application accepted.

The average SAT, and ACT scores ranged from 1460-1550 and 33-35. SAT scores were slightly more forgiving than Harvard by a small margin, while ACT scores were on par.

Amy Gutmann, the 9th president of the university and has been serving in the role since 2004. Penn offers a guided virtual tour that provides information about different university landmarks if you consider attending Penn take the tour!

Penn is a place where if you start, you are most likely to finish. Over six years, Penn has an undergraduate graduation rate of 96%.

Dartmouth College

Founded in 1769 and located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth is the second easiest Ivy League School to get an application accepted.

With an acceptance rate of 7.9%, Dartmouth admitted 1,876 applicants out of 23,650, the lowest pool of the 8 Ivy League schools.

The average SAT scores for incoming students ranged from 710-770 for critical reading and 730-790 for Math. Average ACT scores ranged from 32-35. Test scores are still competitive, even at this point on the list. The lower number of total applicants may give you an edge should you choose Dartmouth.

The president of Dartmouth is Phillip Hanlon, who took the position in 2013 and is the 10th person to hold the position. Dartmouth is a leader in sustainability, and they aim to rely on 100% renewable energy by 2050. If you are looking to pursue a career in sustainability, Dartmouth may be just what the doctor ordered.

In a graduation survey of the class of 2019, 72% of 1,055 students who participated were employed, had fellowships or internships. When it comes to job compensation, 85% will be making $40,000 or higher.

Cornell University

Founded in 1865 and located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell is the youngest and easiest Ivy League school to get into on the list.

With an acceptance rate of about 10.9%, Cornell admitted 5,330 applicants from a pool of 49,114. This acceptance rate is more than double the rate for our top two schools of Harvard and Columbia and, as such, presents the highest chance of acceptance for a prospective student.

The SAT’s average test scores ranged from 680 for the 25th percentile and 760 for the 75th percentile in reading and writing. Simultaneously, math scores ranged from 720 for the 25th percentile and 800 for the 75th. ACT scores ranged from 32 to 35 for the 25th and 75th percentiles, respectively.

The president of the university is Martha E. Pollack, and she took the position in 2017. Cornell has a history of being first. They were the first to award degrees in journalism, veterinary medicine, and were the first to award doctorates in electrical and industrial engineering.

The class of 2019 saw Cornell celebrate the graduation of 7,396 students, a larger graduating class than the other Ivy League schools on the list. Having such a large graduating class may benefit you if you are looking to have a varied and diverse college experience.

Eight Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a School

Before you go off and decide which one of these eight schools is best for you, here are some things you should consider in your search:

  • Location
  • Degrees Offered
  • Tuition
  • Acceptance Rate/Number of Applicants
  • Test Scores
  • Number of Students
  • Graduation Rate
  • Extracurricular Activities (Sports and Clubs)

Final Thoughts

Deciding which college is for you is tough enough. When you choose to go to an Ivy League school, it becomes even tougher. You will be competing against the brightest minds for a spot in these prestigious colleges.

While you will have a better chance of getting accepted into Cornell than Harvard, each school sets a high standard, and you must put your best foot forward to get in. The margin is slim, but by having the right information, you can maximize your chances of getting accepted into the Ivy League school of your dreams.

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Michelle Tsou

Contributor at ExamCave. Michelle graduated with a BA in English from Portland State University. She hopes to one day run her own test-prep organization.