What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Which Ivy League is Right for You?

The Ivy League, often perceived as a monolith of academic excellence and prestige, is a collection of eight distinct institutions, each with its own unique culture, strengths, and weaknesses. While these schools collectively symbolize the pinnacle of higher education in the United States, it’s crucial to understand their differences. 


Recognizing that each student may find a different Ivy League school more suited to their needs and aspirations, this guide aims to provide insights into each institution, assisting students in identifying the best fit for their academic and personal growth.


Brown University

Founded: 1764

Location: Providence, RI

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,300

2023 Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1460-1570 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Location: Brown University is located in Providence, the capital city of Rhode Island. Providence is relatively small, so Brown students don’t fully experience the urban lifestyle that Penn or Columbia students may enjoy. However, the nearest major city, Boston, is only an hour-long bus ride away.


Academics: Brown has a reputation for having the least competitive academic environment in the Ivy League. This is evidenced by Brown’s open curriculum, which doesn’t include any required or core classes and allows students, for the most part, to take whatever they want (besides one required writing class). Additionally, students at Brown can take as many classes as they want Pass/Fail, essentially making grades optional. In general, the academic culture at Brown encourages exploration and experimentation, and it is specifically designed to allow students to branch out to areas outside their majors without fear of their GPAs suffering as a result.


Student Life: Brown is also famous for being among the most progressive schools in the nation. Discourse about issues of gender, sexuality, race, and inequality is prevalent on campus, and the university administration prioritizes creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. Brown regularly ranks highly on lists of happiest colleges, perhaps due to its relatively relaxed environment. Brown students are also given free access to museums and other cultural centers in Providence that enrich the student experience.


Have you started writing the essay for Brown? Explore our comprehensive essay breakdown post, offering expert tips and strategies to enhance your application and make your supplemental essays shine in a highly competitive admissions process.


Columbia University

Founded: 1754

Location: New York, NY

Undergrad Enrollment: 8,800

2023 Acceptance Rate: 4%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1470-1570 SAT, 34-35 ACT


Location: If you want a college in the heart of the biggest city in the country, Columbia has got you covered! Columbia is in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, sandwiched between West Harlem and the Upper West Side. Morningside Heights, also home to Barnard College, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Jewish and Union Theological Seminaries, is often called the “college town” of New York City. For students looking to further explore the city, downtown Manhattan is only a 20-minute subway ride away.


Academics: The undergraduate experience at Columbia is defined by the Core Curriculum, a set of classes all students in the liberal arts college (Columbia College) must take. Students in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science are also required to take some core classes, although the requirements are less stringent. Note that the Core Curriculum features a heavy emphasis on reading and writing, especially on classical literature—detractors of Homer beware!


Student Life: With a record of student activism dating back to the protests of the 60s and beyond, Columbia tends to attract students who are passionate about political engagement. Its location in New York City is also a huge draw for international students, as Columbia has the highest percentage of international students of any Ivy League school and is among the highest of all schools in the country. Columbia also has the distinction of being the most racially diverse Ivy, with 50% of undergraduates identifying as students of color. The diversity of the student body and the excitement of NYC provide for an intellectually stimulating undergraduate experience.


Considering Columbia for your college journey? Don’t miss our detailed essay breakdown, which provides insightful advice to help your application essays stand out in the rigorous admissions landscape.


Cornell University

Founded: 1865

Location: Ithaca, NY

Undergrad Enrollment: 15,000

2023 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1450-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Location: Cornell University is located in Ithaca, a small city in upstate New York. Ithaca is home to Ithaca College as well and the city is known for its progressive culture. The upstate New York region is renowned for gorgeous scenery that any outdoorsy person would love. In fact, you will find numerous waterfalls and gorges all around Cornell’s campus. The campus is also among the largest in the Ivy League.


Academics: Cornell’s undergraduate experience is made unique by its eight undergraduate schools, including its highly ranked agriculture and engineering schools, as well as the distinctive School of Hotel Administration. Cornell’s specialized and often unconventional programs in a variety of fields allow undergraduates to pursue an education tailor-made to their interests. Boasting 80 majors and 122 minors, Cornell describes itself as a pioneer in education.


Student Life: Cornell features by far the largest undergraduate enrollment of any Ivy League school, with over 15,000 full-time students. Its large size and unique blend of public and private funding differentiate Cornell from other Ivies, giving the university an atmosphere similar to that of a large public university. Like Dartmouth, Cornell’s rural setting and the prevalence of Greek life stand in contrast to smaller, more urban Ivies. Campus life and recreational activities at Cornell like to take advantage of the natural setting of the campus. Many student groups involve outdoor activities: athletics, hiking in the surrounding wilderness, and canoeing in the nearby Finger Lakes are common pastimes for Cornell students.


Gain an edge with our specialized essay guide for Cornell, designed to help you navigate the application process and highlight your unique strengths in your essays


Dartmouth College

Founded: 1769

Location: Hanover, NH

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,500

2023 Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1440-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Location: Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a town with a population of just 11,500. The suburban location and picturesque greenery of Dartmouth’s campus attract a more outdoorsy crowd than some of the other Ivies.


Academics: Dartmouth is renowned for its commitment to and emphasis on undergraduate education, as evidenced in its decision to refer to itself as Dartmouth College despite having four graduate schools. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth, you can be sure that you will receive ample attention and resources, without worrying that your needs are secondary to those of graduate students. Dartmouth is also unique in that it is the only Ivy that uses the quarter system as opposed to the semester system, in which there are three grading periods in a typical school year (four year-round) as opposed to two.


Student Life: Dartmouth prides itself on its beautiful surroundings, as the surrounding New Hampshire wilderness provides students with an environment for numerous outdoor student groups. Greek life also plays a larger role at Dartmouth than at any other Ivy, with 60% of the undergraduate community participating. Dartmouth is also significantly smaller than its peer institutions, featuring a total undergraduate enrollment of just over 4,000 students. As a result of its relatively secluded location and small size, the undergraduate community at Dartmouth is very close-knit, which leads to a strong school spirit and alumni loyalty.


Enhance your application with our targeted essay breakdown for Dartmouth, offering key strategies for crafting essays that capture the attention of admissions officers.


Harvard University 

Founded: 1636

Location: Cambridge, MA

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,200

2023 Acceptance Rate: 4%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1480-1580 SAT, 33-36 ACT


Location: Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a 20-minute subway ride away from the heart of Boston. Being surrounded by numerous other colleges in Cambridge and the greater Boston area — including MIT, Wellesley, Boston College, Tufts, and Boston University — means Harvard students have access to numerous events and opportunities designed specifically for students to network with peers and faculty. Boston’s proximity to the campus also allows Harvard students to take advantage of a big city’s resources while still enjoying the comforts of a smaller, quieter urban setting.


Academics: Harvard features a set of general education requirements that all freshmen in the college must complete in addition to the courses for their major. The general education requirements at Harvard are designed to expose students to a broader range of subject material and enhance their understanding of the world outside the school’s hallowed halls. The school’s considerable resources allow for undergraduate research and a great degree of freedom to pursue academic interests, opportunities that Harvard students are sure to take advantage of.


Student Life: The residential college system at Harvard is designed to foster tight-knit relationships between students and faculty masters. There are 12 residential houses where students are placed into their sophomore year, each with a distinct culture and personality. Students remain a part of their houses until graduation, coming to form close relationships with fellow students in their houses and enjoying all the amenities the houses offer. Due to the presence of Harvard’s infamous final clubs, Greek life plays a small but growing role in the social scene at Harvard, although fraternities and sororities are not recognized by the university.


Setting your sights on Harvard? Check out our exclusive essay guide to learn how to create compelling and memorable essays to stand in a highly competitive admissions landscape.


University of Pennsylvania

Founded: 1740

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Undergrad Enrollment: 11,200

2023 Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1480-1570 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Location: Like Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania’s location in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia offers students all the benefits of an urban setting, including opportunities for internships and employment as well as cultural events. However, despite being in the heart of a busy city, UPenn still has a secluded campus with traditional quads and dorms. 


Academics: Penn features 4 undergraduate schools: The College of Arts and Sciences, The School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing, and the Wharton School of Business. The School of Nursing and the Wharton School set Penn apart from other Ivies, which tend to focus more on a liberal arts education. The College of Arts and Science’s curriculum requires instruction both in various disciplines as well as specific skill sets, evidencing Penn’s emphasis on a practical, worldly education.


Student Life: Penn is integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, and students are encouraged to make the most of Philadelphia for recreational, academic, and extracurricular engagement. Greek life is more prominent at Penn than at some other Ivy League schools but does not dominate the social scene. Those seeking opportunities to socialize beyond fraternity and sorority life can turn to one of Penn’s 450+ student organizations or the College House system, which features 12 distinct communities where students can network with like-minded peers as freshmen, upperclassmen, or throughout the entirety of their time at Penn.


Looking to strengthen your UPenn application? Our essay breakdown offers valuable insights and tips to help you develop standout essays that resonate with admissions committees


Princeton University

Founded: 1746

Location: Princeton, NJ

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,300

2023 Acceptance Rate: 4%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1460-1570 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Location: Often heeded as the most quintessentially “Ivy” school in the Ivy League, Princeton has a large, stately campus in the New Jersey town of the same name. The charming gothic architecture is a big draw for many students and visitors. Interestingly, Princeton also features the largest amount of actual ivy of any Ivy League campus.


Academics: Like Dartmouth, Princeton emphasizes undergraduate education as its top priority. Princeton offers two degrees, either A.B. for liberal arts students or B.S.E. for students of engineering and applied science. Both programs feature general education requirements, as well as a focus on independent research. The required courses provide Princeton students with a diverse and thorough liberal arts education, a hallmark of the university’s undergraduate experience.


Student Life: A defining component of student life at Princeton is the group of famous eating clubs. Eating clubs are private social organizations, some with a rigorous application process referred to as “bickering.” While eating clubs make up a large part of the social scene at Princeton, there are also a variety of student groups and several Greek organizations that offer opportunities to network and socialize with fellow students. Housing at Princeton varies from typical dormitory-style arrangements to themed residential colleges, communities centered on a common interest that allows students to live alongside like-minded peers.


Aspiring to join the Princeton community? Access our expert essay guide for Princeton to uncover effective techniques for writing essays that truly reflect your potential and fit with the school.


Yale University

Founded: 1701

Location: New Haven, CT

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,500

2023 Acceptance Rate: 5%

Middle SAT/ACT Scores: 1480-1580 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Location: Yale University resides in the small city of New Haven, Connecticut, less than two hours away from New York City. While New Haven offers opportunities for social, cultural, and professional activities, most of the action for Yalies takes place on the university’s beautiful campus, famous for its gothic architecture.


Academics: All undergraduates attend Yale College, the liberal arts college within the university. Yale has loose general education requirements, although they are less stringent than those at Columbia or Princeton. Yale is celebrated for its exemplary English and creative arts programs, which consistently place near or at the top of national rankings. Writing is an important part of the Yale undergraduate curriculum, with over a hundred introductory writing courses to choose from featuring a broad range of topics.


Student Life: Yale, like Harvard, is host to a residential college system that makes the undergraduate experience truly unlike any other. The tight-knit communities that Yale students live in their sophomore through senior year allow students to make connections with both their peers and faculty, as well as live in an environment best suited to their interests and ambitions. As one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the country, Yale also has a wealth of time-honed organizations and institutions, including several purported “secret societies,” all of which contribute to the remarkable pride Yale students and alumni take in their school.


Eyeing Yale as your top choice? Explore our in-depth essay guide for Yale, providing you with the tools and guidance to craft essays that will make a lasting impression in the admissions process.


How to Get Accepted to an Ivy League School


While all of the Ivy League schools are highly selective, your profile may be a slightly better fit at one versus another. If you have two schools that you’re interested in and want to know where you’re more likely to be accepted, CollegeVine’s free chancing engine is a great resource. It factors in every aspect of your profile, including your grades, extracurriculars, test scores if you have them, and so on. You can also adjust various factors to see how your chances of admission could change based on, say, a higher SAT score.


Or, maybe you’ve already decided which Ivy, or Ivies, you want to apply to, and you’re looking for help polishing your essays. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to all eight Ivy League institutions. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Short Bio
Varun is a recent graduate from Arizona State University, Tempe, with a degree in Computer Science. He aims to share his knowledge of computer science, the IB Diploma Program, and all things college-related with high school students. In his free time, he can be found performing DJ sets or cooking!