Easiest and Hardest Ivy League Colleges to Get Into

Many senior high school students who dream big tend to dream about going to Ivy League schools. Unfortunately, it’s no secret that it is not that easy to get accepted into these highly admired schools in the US.

While it’s true that getting into the Ivies is difficult, it’s easier to get admitted into some of them.

Knowing which ones have high acceptance rates is a good idea. This allows students to apply to Ivy League schools that are likely to welcome them.

So, which Ivy League college is the easiest to get into?

Statistic after statistic, it is clear that Cornell University is the easiest of the Ivies to get into. Its acceptance rate for the class of 2027 is 9%. This rate is more than double the 4% acceptance rate of Princeton University, which is the hardest Ivy League school to get into, for the same year.

Online, you may come across some people saying that the Ivies’ acceptance rate cannot be used as a basis for figuring out which of these schools are the easiest to get into.

Their view is this: Ivy League schools with lots of applicants, such as Harvard University, will look like they have lower acceptance rates than those with fewer applicants. Well, these people have a point.

For the sake of knowing which of these schools are welcoming the most applicants every school year, however, we are left with no choice but to focus on their respective acceptance rates.

Before we go ahead, let’s first get this little-known fact out there: your chances of studying at an Ivy League college are higher if you apply early decision.

Such is usually done in November instead of before April the next year.

That’s because it will show the Ivies that they are your first choice. This gives them a sense of pride and joy, and they may return the favor by welcoming you to the campus.

However, there is a catch: if you get accepted, you have no choice but to attend the Ivy that accepted you. That’s because the early decision is binding.

Ivy League Ranked From Hardest to Easiest

Ivy League colleges are some of the most difficult schools to get into. Such is not only in the US but the rest of the planet as well. While it’s true that you should have impressive grades, that’s not enough.

These schools are looking for well-rounded high school graduates who have the potential to change the world someday.

Easiest and Hardest Ivy Colleges
Easiest and Hardest Ivy Colleges

Above, we enumerated the Ivies from the easiest to the hardest to get into, based on their acceptance rates.

Speaking of which, let’s take a quick look at the acceptance rate of each one of them in the last few years:

Cornell University9%14.10%15.10%14.00%15.20%
Dartmouth College6%10.50%10.30%11.50%10.00%
University of Pennsylvania6%9.40%9.90%9.90%12.10%
Brown University6%9.00%8.60%8.60%9.20%
Princeton University4%6.50%7.00%7.30%7.30%
Yale University5%6.30%6.50%6.30%6.70%
Columbia University4%6.00%6.10%7.00%6.90%
Harvard University5%5.20%5.30%5.90%5.80%

Based on the table above, it’s clear that Cornell University consistently has the highest acceptance rate.

On the other hand, Princeton University has the lowest acceptance rate without fail.

The figures don’t lie. It is very clear which of the Ivy League schools are the easiest and hardest to get into.

It’s completely up to you to decide which of these schools you will send your applications to. But if you really want to increase your chances of going to the Ivy of your dreams, consider applying ED.

However, you will have no choice but to attend school in case you get accepted because it is binding. Pulling out for reasons other than acceptable ones (financial, health, accidents, a sick family member, etc.) may cause you to have a hard time going to schools.

Related Article: Getting a Full-Ride Scholarship to Harvard, Princeton, or Yale

The Easiest Ivies to Get Into

According to life hack experts, it is a good idea to do the hardest tasks first. Doing so allows things to get easier.

In this article on the easiest and hardest Ivy League colleges to get into, it’s different. We will start talking about the schools that are likely to accept you due to their high acceptance rates.

This way, when creating a list of schools to which you should send applications, you may put these Ivy Leagues on the top:

Uris Library, Cornell University
Uris Library, Cornell University

Cornell University

Various reasons exist why a lot of senior high school students are enticed to apply to Cornell University.

For one, it has a massive tree-filled campus in Ithaca, New York. Students can choose from the more than 4,000 courses available. This means that they will surely find a field of study that they can focus on.

Then there’s also the fact that Cornell University is regarded as the easiest Ivy League school to get into. Such is based on its acceptance rate, which is higher than the rest of the Ivies year after year.

It doesn’t mean, however, that anyone who applies to the school gets accepted. Always keep in mind that, being an Ivy, Cornell University is very picky when it comes to choosing its students.

But compared to the rest of the Ivies, you have higher chances of being accepted into it. Just make sure that you will be able to impress its admissions officers.

For instance, you will need to have a high GPA — 3.8 is the average GPA of students accepted into the school.

Experts agree that you should have an SAT score of 1,390 or higher as well as an ACT score of 32 or higher to stand a chance against exceptional applicants.

Also, it’s a must for your letter of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and essay to meet the high standards of Cornell University.

Related Article: How to Transfer From Community College to Ivy League

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College

Among all the Ivies, Dartmouth College is the smallest. It’s not just its campus that is the smallest of the bunch but also its class size.

That is a good thing because it means that the school’s professors can devote plenty of their time to the students. And speaking of which, Dartmouth College is revered for its outstanding faculty.

Founded back in 1769, the school is located in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) dubbed Dartmouth College as a higher education learning institution with very high research activity.

CFAT, by the way, is a US-based research facility. Have you heard about or used the computer programming language BASIC? Well, it was invented at Dartmouth College.

Since it’s one of the Ivy League schools in the US, getting into Dartmouth College is no picnic. However, compared to the rest of the Ivies, you have higher chances of going to it.

That is if you are able to grab the fancy of its admissions officers with your GPA as well as SAT and ACT scores.

Impressing the school’s admissions officers with your academic and standardized test scores, unfortunately, is not enough. For instance, you will have to produce a couple of essays.

The first essay is a very short one, and it’s based on a question that all applicants need to answer.

The second essay is longer, and you will have to choose it from different choices that Dartmouth College will provide. Needless to say, both of your essays should be brilliant.

If you are interested in knowing why Dartmouth is so cool and unique listen to the podcast episode with Dartmouth freshman:


University of Pennsylvania

There are many wonderful reasons why the University of Pennsylvania is considered one of the elite schools not only in the US but globally, too.

For instance, a famous person was the one who founded it back in 1740. It’s none other than Benjamin Franklin, a statesman, author, scientist, and inventor.

Franklin believed that the students should be taught the arts, humanities, and the skills they need to serve the public and make a living.

What’s more, the University of Pennsylvania is home to a couple of the firsts in the world of higher learning.

For one, it is the birthplace of the Wharton School, which is the first business school on the planet. Then it is also where the oldest medical school in the US came into being.

According to statistics, only eight are admitted by the University of Pennsylvania for every 100 applicants. Needless to say, it is very selective when it comes to choosing which applicants will be able to go to it.

However, the school is in this part of the article where we are talking about some of the easiest Ivy League schools to get into. This means that you have higher chances of going to it compared to the Ivies listed below.

To go to this top-notch school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, you should have a 3.9 GPA score. Worry not if yours is lower than that. It’s because having high SAT and ACT scores can make up for it.

However, they should be higher than the scores of those whose GPA scores are 3.9 or higher for you to be preferred by the school’s admissions officers over them. You should also be able to wow them with your essay and extracurricular activities.

Related Article: Best Non-Ivy League Schools Along The East Coast

Brown University

Brown University

Finally, there’s Brown University — the least easy of the easiest Ivy Schools to get into. Many senior high school students are enticed to send their application to this institution for higher education.

This is especially true for those who are aware that the school is offering what it refers to as an open curriculum.

Put simply, it allows its students to come up with their own curriculum. They can do so based on their personal preferences. They can choose from nearly a hundred different academic programs at the onset. Later on, they can decide to concentrate on a specific area.

Such freedom that Brown University offers is ideal for students who want to enjoy the customized college experience. If you want to have the same, first you will have to get into the school.

No one really knows the GPA requirement of Brown University. However, some people believe that it should be 4.0 or higher.

This will only mean that you should be at the top of your high school class. Then you should also have above-average SAT and ACT scores to make it to the first round of screening.

Yes, that’s just half the battle. After passing the initial screening, the admissions officers of Brown University will then check out the rest of the requirements.

They include your letter of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and application essay. You should be able to impress them in these departments, too.

That’s because, aside from being intelligent, Brown University also prefers its students to have the potential to change the world one day.

Related Article: Good Safety Schools For Ivy League Applicants

The Hardest Ivies to Get Into

Now that you have an idea of which Ivy League colleges are the easiest to get into let’s now take a look at the Ivies that are the hardest to get into.

Are you completely confident that you can impress the admissions officers of these schools with your grades, letter of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and essay?

Then go ahead and send your application to one or all of the following Ivy League schools.

Princeton University

Princeton University

College of New Jersey was the name of Princeton University when it was founded in 1746. Obviously, it’s for the reason that it is situated in New Jersey.

Because the municipality of Princeton is the exact location, it doesn’t come as a surprise why the school’s name was changed back in 1896.

In the US, Princeton University is considered as one of the oldest colleges. It is regarded as one of the most prominent as well. This Ivy League school has an expansive campus, the majority of which is covered with Ivy.

Many of its students choose to live within the campus than anywhere else. Those who reside in it tend to enjoy a community that is both tightly knit and lively.

Princeton offers a wide variety of shopping centers, restaurants, coffee shops, and art venues. If you were a Princeton University student and you felt like you could use some more unwinding between classes, you have many neighboring cities to visit. They include New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston.

Needless to say, Princeton University is one of the Ivy League schools that are the hardest to get into. You can rest assured that you have to be at the top of your high school class for its admissions officers to give you a chance to become one of its students.

For instance, your GPA score should be a whopping 3.9 or higher for your application to be noticed. However, that’s not all that counts.

Princeton University, just like the other Ivies, has an inclination towards well-rounded students. This means that you have to excel in various things, too, including those outside the classroom.

If are eager to know what it takes to get into Princeton, listen to a “Who Cares About College” podcast episode with a person who was just accepted to the college:

Handsom Dan, Yale mascot
Handsom Dan, Yale mascot

Yale University

Because it is one of the Ivies, getting into Yale University is reserved for above-average students.

Despite this, many senior high school students still try their luck by sending applications to it. One of the reasons for such is that Yale University is known to have a unique culture.

For instance, its students live in residential colleges. Each one of those residential units has a dean that the students can interact with freely.

Other than that, the school is admired by many because it offers fantastic drama and music courses. There are also programs outside of performing arts. As a matter of fact, Yale University’s labs for science, math, and related branches of learning amount to more than 800!

Founded way back in 1701, Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut. The said city is nicknamed the Cultural Capital of Connecticut. That’s because there is never a shortage of museums, theaters, and music venues there.

Students of Yale University also love the fact that they can easily unwind in nearby beautiful cities after a long and exhausting school week. The school is close to the likes of New York and Boston.

It’s given that, to be able to get into Yale University, you will need to have a high GPA, SAT, and ACT scores. However, according to the school’s admissions officers themselves, they take a look more than the numbers.

For instance, they admit to investigating if applicants took advantage of the opportunities that their high schools provided. They also have a soft spot for students who will make the most of their talents while at Yale University.

Related Article: Pros and Cons of Going to an Ivy League School

Columbia University

Columbia University’s acceptance rate is 4.0% only. This is why it is the second to the hardest Ivy League school to go to. Despite being extremely picky when it comes to accepting applicants, many high school graduates are still trying their luck.

That’s because the school is in one of the greatest cities in the US and the rest of the world, too. It’s none other than New York City — the Big Apple!

This Ivy was founded in 1754, which makes it almost three centuries old.

As a matter of fact, it is the oldest college in New York and the fifth oldest in the US. Back then, the school was known as King’s College. It became Columbia University after the American Revolution.

Do you want to have an increased chance of going to Columbia University?

Well, you should be ready to impress with your incredibly high test scores. Based on the analysis of some SAT and ACT preparation experts, you need to have an SAT score that is close to 1,580.

On the other hand, you should have an ACT score of about 34. And by the way, they add that you should have a 4.13 GPA score.

However, as the case in many Ivy Leagues, the admissions officers of Columbia University are hard to please. They look for a bunch of other things than academic grades and standardized exam scores.

So if you want to be a certified Columbian one day, you will also need to excel in other stuff.

Harvard University

Harvard University

Last but not least, there’s Harvard University. It has always been known as the hardest Ivy League school to get into.

You will surely have to impress its admissions officers in a grand way if you want to spend your college years there.

By the way, it’s not just the hardest of the Ivies to go to. Harvard University is also the oldest Ivy around. It was founded way back in 1636, which is nearly 400 years ago!

If you are studying at Harvard University, it’s not just the school’s brightest students that you may come into contact with. You may also mingle with students from nearby premier universities.

They are Northeastern University, Boston University, Boston College, Tufts University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Do you have a fantastic performance in high school, as evidenced by your high grades and a stellar recommendation letter?

Then you may be able to go to Harvard University. However, sky-high grades are not the only ones that the school’s admissions officers will be looking for.

According to the school’s website itself, many other factors will be considered as well. One of those is having merits in extracurricular activities — being the president or founder of a group is a huge plus.

You should also have stellar community involvement, character, and personal qualities. In other words, it’s a must that you can impress your grades, skills, talents, and personality to increase your chances of going to Harvard University.

Related Article: Is it possible to get into Harvard with a low GPA

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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