Timothy Peck 5 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, School Spotlight

What is HYPSM? A Complete Overview

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High-achieving high school students with aspirations of attending a top-rated college often have their sights set on HYPSM, shorthand for five of the most prestigious and selective colleges in the country: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT. 

 

What is HYPSM?

 

The HYPSM schools are commonly thought of as the best schools in the country—they consistently rank in the top 10 national universities and are among the ten hardest U.S. colleges to get into.  

 

The first three HYPSM schools have long been grouped together—they’re all members of the Ivy League, have sterling reputations, and are among the oldest universities in the nation. It’s common to hear Harvard, Yale, and Princeton referred to as either HYP or as the “Big Three.” 

 

The final two HYPSM schools—Stanford and MIT—are more recent additions to the group. Neither Stanford nor MIT belong to the Ivy League, although many consider them equal to, if not better than, the Ivies. 

 

Here’s a brief overview of these schools and their acceptance rates:

 

School

Location 

Acceptance Rate

Harvard

Cambridge, MA

5.2%

Yale 

New Haven, CT

6.5%

Princeton

Princeton, NJ

6%

Stanford 

Stanford, California 

5%

MIT 

Cambridge, MA

7.3%

 

Which School is Best for You?

 

The HYPSM schools share an array of qualities—for example, they’re all highly respected, home to some of the world’s best minds, and extremely challenging to get into. There are also numerous ways in which these schools differ. While acceptance in an HYPSM school is a feather in the cap of any college-bound student, choosing a college comes down to fit, or how well a school matches a student’s interests, ambitions, and ideals. 

 

1. Harvard University 

 

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Undergrad Enrollment: 9,900

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Middle 50% SAT: 1460-1570 

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

 

Harvard has a history of being first, and not just in rankings of the nation’s best colleges. Founded in 1636, Harvard was the first institution of higher education established in the United States. (To put that in context, Harvard is 140 years older than the Declaration of Independence.) But it’s not just academics in which Harvard is a leader—the university is renowned for its affluent alumni and enormous endowment as well.

 

There are also numerous ways Harvard separates itself from other colleges including distinguished faculty, notable clubs like the Harvard Lampoon, and world-famous libraries. Learn more about what makes Harvard unique in our article, What is Harvard Known For?

 

2. Yale University

 

Location: New Haven, CT

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,900

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle 50% SAT: 1470-1560

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

 

Yale is often thought of as the HYPSM college that places the most value on the arts. This reputation is enhanced by the large number of Yale graduates who’ve gone on to gain fame in fields like film, including:

 

  • Angela Bassett
  • Paul Giamatti
  • Jodie Foster
  • Edward Norton 
  • Oliver Stone 

 

Students interested in other fields will also find top-notch programs and interdisciplinary opportunities. Yale especially values students who are intellectually involved outside of school, such as performing research or publishing op-eds.

 

Yale student life is centered around its residential college system. All students are randomly assigned to one of fourteen colleges, where they remain for their time at Yale. Each college features a library, gym, dining hall, and activity spaces. These colleges provide students with a tight-knit and diverse community immediately upon arrival.

 

Yale stands apart from other colleges in a variety of ways. Learn about them in our article, What is Yale University Known For?

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

3. Princeton University

 

Location: Princeton, New Jersey

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,400

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle 50% SAT: 1450-1600

Middle 50% ACT: 32-36

 

Princeton has a prominent place in academia—it has topped the U.S. News rankings of Best National Universities since 2010. The university is perhaps best known for its School of Engineering and Applied Science or its School of Public and International Affairs.

 

Every student at Princeton faces rigorous coursework, including a Junior Paper (kind of like a pre-thesis) and senior thesis.

 

A unique aspect of life at Princeton are eating clubs, which are exclusive dining halls and social centers for their members. Clubs not only feature food, but also study space, libraries, and game rooms.

 

Princeton’s financial aid promises to meet 100% of each family’s demonstrated need without loans. Admissions are need-blind, meaning that a student’s ability to pay isn’t factored into their admissions decision. Princeton is one of the few schools in the country to apply these same policies to international students as well.

 

Read more about Princeton in our article, What is Princeton University Known For?

 

4. Stanford University

 

Location: Stanford, California 

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,000

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Middle 50% SAT: 1420-1570

Middle 50% ACT: 31-35

 

Stanford has developed a reputation for high achievement. The university has produced more billionaires than any school other than Harvard and more Turing Award winners (considered the “Nobel Prize of Computing”) are associated with Stanford than any other institution. Thirty-four Stanford faculty members have won the Nobel Prize since the university’s founding and 19 current members of the Stanford community are Nobel laureates. 

 

Stanford excels not only in the classroom but also in athletics—Stanford students and alumni have earned 270 Olympic medals, trailing only USC (which has won 309 medals). 

 

Stanford is known for its close ties to the Silicon Valley, its highly regarded School of Engineering, and its unique mascot—a tree. Learn some of the other ways that Stanford sets itself apart from other colleges in our article, What is Stanford University Known For?

 

5. MIT 

 

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,600

Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Middle 50% SAT: 1520-1580

Middle 50% ACT: 35-36

 

MIT doesn’t have the same extensive history as its Ivy counterparts—it was founded on April 10, 1861, two days before the start of the Civil War, more than a century after Princeton, and more than 200 years later than Harvard. While MIT’s history doesn’t date back to the 1600s, it’s still impressive. The world’s first computer was built at MIT (Whirlwind), the first email was sent between MIT alumni, and the first spreadsheet was created at MIT. However, MIT was innovating higher education well before computers, and is home to the nation’s oldest architecture program. 

 

Age is just one of the many ways MIT separates itself from the other HYPSM schools—there are also famous faculty, interesting clubs, and quirky traditions. Learn all about them in our article, What is MIT Known For? 

 

What are Your Chances at HYPSM Schools?

 

The HYPSM schools are among the most prestigious and selective colleges in the country. Many competitive schools, like HYPSM, use the Academic Index (AI) to expedite the admissions process. The Academic Index distills a student’s academic performance into a single number, allowing admissions officials to make quick judgments on an applicant’s credentials. If a student’s AI fails to meet an institution’s standards, it’s highly unlikely an admissions officer will read the rest of their application.

 

CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator can help students better understand their chances at the HYPSM schools along with hundreds of other colleges. Our data-driven chancing engine uses metrics like GPA and test scores, along with more holistic factors like extracurricular activities, to give students a clear idea of their chances of acceptance. It even shows students what aspects of their profile they need to improve.

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.