Though Ivy League Admission Has Never Been More Selective They Don’t Boss University Rankings

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Last year was one of the most competitive in the history of admissions to the Ivy League. The acceptance rate for the Class of 2026 at Harvard was the lowest ever, down to 3.19% compared to 5.9% a decade before. And your chances of admission at Columbia and Princeton? In 2022 they were 3.7% and 4% respectively, compared to 7.4% and 7.9% ten years ago.

Meanwhile the number of applicants to the eight elite schools – Brown, Columbia, Cornell University, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn and Yale – continues to rise. Crimson Education estimates that the incoming class of 2026 will set a new record of around 414,000 applications, with Cornell typically receiving the most applications – they received 67,380 applications for the Class of 2025.

Ivy League universities have some of the largest university financial endowments in the world, allowing the universities to provide abundant resources for their academic programs, financial aid, and research endeavors. As of 2021, Harvard University had an endowment of $53.2 billion, the largest of any educational institution.

But despite their prestige and appeal, the eight schools that created an athletic conference in 1954 have to share the limelight when it comes to the league tables of the leading universities. Beyond the sports field, they compete with Stanford, MIT, CalTech, UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago when measured by their academic reputations, teaching, research, citations and international outlook.

This is apparent in the BlueSky Ranking of University Rankings, which combines the results of the four major global university rankings – Times Higher Education, QS, US News and ARWU Shanghai.

Only Harvard makes the top 5 in the 2022/23 results for North America, with only three other Ivy League schools – Princeton, Columbia and Yale – among the top 9. Beyond the sports field, they compete with Stanford, MIT, CalTech, UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago when measured by their academic reputations, teaching, research, citations and international outlook.

Brown University, which is home to the oldest applied mathematics program in the United States and the oldest engineering program in the Ivy League, doesn’t make the top 30, while Dartmouth College fails to make the top 50 among the top US and Canadian institutions.

You can view the full results in the Ranking of University Rankings 2022/23 – North America here, along with details of the methodologies of the four major university rankings. The results are also compared to 2017/18 – there are a significant number of winners and losers in the 5-year period.

UC Berkeley (#9) and the University of Toronto (#13) have both climbed by 4 places over that time frame, while further down the league table the University of Southern California, Emory University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Alberta have all made significant advances.

With only a 4% acceptance rate at Stanford in 2022, and fewer than 1,500 of nearly 22,000 that applied to MIT last year gaining admission, securing a place at any of the leading US universities is not for the faint hearted. More test-optional policies and post-pandemic international demand may see application volumes rising further.

Like ivy we must grow where there is room for us.



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