College applicants are often overwhelmed by the number of college choices available. When we help students build their college list, we present many options that best suit their personal and academic needs.

One set of options is the “Hidden Ivies.” Let’s talk about what they are, why they are worth looking into, and five myths many college applicants have about them.

What Are Hidden Ivies

The list of schools known as the Ivy League originated as an athletic conference in 1954 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 (NCAA). Academics were not a factor in the league creation. 

While Ivy League schools are known for their rigorous academics and high selectivity, they are not the only schools that fall under such criteria.

In their book, “The Hidden Ivies: 63 of America’s Top Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities,” college counseling experts Howard and Matthew Greene define and discuss the 63 Hidden Ivies. These schools were described as liberal arts colleges not part of the Ivy League but offering the same excellent academic, athletics, and career opportunities. 

Students and families often overlook these Hidden Ivies in favor of the more well-known Ivy League colleges.

You can see a complete list of the Hidden Ivies here. Many of these schools have grown in popularity over the years and are not really “hidden” anymore, making them very competitive to get into. Such as Stanford, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Tufts, and Boston College.

Why Choose a Hidden Ivy

Hidden Ivies embrace what I personally love about small liberal arts colleges:

  • Rigorous academics – small, discussion-based classes mean students are expected to engage in the classroom and share their thoughts and opinions.
  • Enormous opportunity for personal growth in a collaborative environment.
  • On-campus living and learning experience – learning extends far beyond the classroom.
  • Opportunities for leadership and involvement – students can be a big fish in a small pond.
  • Access to internships and other professional development opportunities.
  • Personal support and attention from a variety of administrative staff.

These schools are worth exploring when building a college list because they offer an exceptional educational experience in a close-knit community with career development opportunities.

The news is getting out for many of these Hidden Ivies, but some myths remain. We’ll go into some of them below.

5 Myths of Hidden Ivies

Myth #1: Hidden Ivies are less prestigious than Ivy League schools.

Reality: While Hidden Ivies may not have the same name recognition as Ivy League schools, their admissions process is just as selective, and their academics just as rigorous. 

They also have a strong track record of producing successful graduates who go on to top graduate schools and successful careers.

Myth #2: Hidden Ivies are only for students who can’t get into Ivy League schools.

Reality: Hidden Ivies attract top-performing students from across the country and worldwide.

Many are highly selective and are often as difficult to get into as Ivy League schools.

Myth #3: Hidden Ivies are not worth the cost.

Reality: Hidden Ivies may have high tuition costs, but they also offer generous financial aid packages that can make them more affordable. 

Additionally, the high-quality education along with access to networking and professional development opportunities, can lead to significant returns on investment in the long run.

Myth #4: Hidden Ivies don’t have strong athletic programs.

Reality: While Hidden Ivies may not have the same level of athletic competition as larger universities, many of them have very strong athletic programs and competitive teams in a variety of sports. 

They also prioritize the academic success and well-being of their student-athletes.

Myth #5: Hidden Ivies don’t have strong career placement services.

Reality: Hidden Ivies often have dedicated career centers that provide students with highly personalized support, resources for exploring career paths, access to internships and job opportunities, and strong professional networks. 

They also have strong alumni networks that can provide graduates with valuable connections and mentorship.

Finding the Right Hidden Ivy School

We believe personal college fit is more important than a college’s reputation or ranking.

When creating a college list, here are some of the questions we ask our students to think about:

  • Does the school offer programs related to their area of interest?
  • Is the school located within their geographical preference?
  • Does the school offer extracurricular activities of their choice? 
  • Can they afford the tuition fees?
  • What types of financial aid and/or merit scholarships do the school offer? 

The “Hidden Ivies” may be a great option for those seeking a highly selective and personalized undergraduate experience. Still, it’s also important for students to do their research and find the schools that best fit their individual needs and goals. 

With so many options, I recognize that the process of finding the right college is daunting. 

My team and I are here to help guide your student through learning everything they need to know about these schools, creating a personalized college list, and creating an application that showcases their strengths and talents.

Reach Out To Us If You Need Help

Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss this topic further. 

We offer a free discovery call, and we’re happy to talk more about Hidden Ivies and help your student build a college list that highlights their unique strengths and talents.

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