The most prestigious universities in the United States are best-known as the Ivy League. Every year, thousands of high school students from around the world apply to attend one of the eight colleges in the Ivy League.
These universities are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.
Which Ivy League School is the Easiest to Get Into?
Based on my data and research, Dartmouth College ranks as the easiest to get into. Below is my personal ranking for the schools ranked in order of easiest to hardest to get into.
- Dartmouth College
- Princeton University
- Cornell University
- Yale University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Brown University
- Columbia University
- Harvard University
Keep reading to learn more about what qualifies a school as a member of the Ivy League, what the average acceptance rates for each school are, and what the average GPA, SAT, and ACT scores are for incoming freshmen for each of these eight colleges.
Which Ivy League School is the Easiest to Get Into? The Rankings Explained!
Why did I rank the schools this way?
Most people think that Cornell is the easiest Ivy League school to get into based on its acceptance rate, but there’s more to it than that. In my opinion, Dartmouth College is the easiest to get into, as they have some of the lowest GPA, SAT, and ACT averages, even if their acceptance rate isn’t the lowest of these eight colleges.
Princeton comes in second on my life for the same reason.
Cornell places at third for a good reason—the average GPA of incoming students. While the average SAT and ACT scores are the lowest out of the list of Ivy League schools, the GPA is the highest. While students can study for the SAT and ACT to get a great score, it takes much more determination and hard work to get a GPA that high (4.19).
This would require students to maintain straight A’s throughout high school, as well as take honors classes. It’s a serious commitment that many students would shudder to think about.
The following colleges in this list—Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Columbia, and Harvard—are listed by taking a general average of how they compare when looking at the average GPA, ACT, SAT, and acceptance rates.
As rumor as it, Harvard does seem to be the most difficult of the Ivy League schools to get into because of their high academic standards.
To afford an ivy league college, you might want to go for some side income. I’ve made this list of 25 side income ideas, thats a great fit for people with entrepreneurial spirit. If you want to learn how to run a business, they might be great for you.
Average Test Scores and GPA for Ivy League Schools
One of the biggest things that colleges around the country, not just in the Ivy League, look for is a student’s standardized test scores and their cumulative GPA.
For American students, the country-wide average GPA is about a 3.0. Of course, being in the Ivy League, these schools are looking for much higher GPAs.
Most of the Ivy League schools, with the exception of Princeton and Yale, require a GPA of over 4.0.
Most high school’s GPA scales only go as high as 4.0., so the question remains, how can students get above a 4.0 GPA?
While many student’s minds might go towards trying to get extra credit in each of their classes, it can actually be easier than that. One of the best ways to aim for a GPA over a 4.0 is to take Honors, AP, or IB classes. Oftentimes, high schools weigh these classes differently, which allows students to get above a 4.0 GPA.
Next, colleges will look at a student’s SAT or ACT scores. Students usually take these tests in their junior year of high school.
Which test a student takes mostly depends on the region they live in and which test their school district prefers to give. The highest SAT score possible is 1600, while the highest ACT score is 36. Needless to say, these tests are scored differently.
The best thing that students can do to ensure a high standardized test score is to do test prep or to get a tutor.
While students can’t actually study the material that will be on the test (no study guide is given) they can learn vocabulary and math problems that are similar to what will be on the tests. If a student does poorly on a test, or just wants to try again to raise their score, they can do so by making an appointment with the testers.
Taking the test the first time is free, but retaking the test often comes with a price tag attached.
The table below shows the average GPA, SAT, and ACT scores that incoming students have for each of the Ivy League universities.
|University||Average GPA||SAT Score Range||ACT Score Range|
|University of Pennsylvania||4.04||1440-1560||32-35|
As it’s clear to see from the table above, most of the Ivy League schools, with the exception of Cornell, require an SAT score between 1400-1600 and an ACT score of 31-35. So, while students do not need a perfect score on either kind of standardized test to get into the Ivy League, they still need to do better than most of their peers.
Cornell stands out as being the easiest of these colleges to get into, when looking at standardized test scores alone. However, they still require above average scores.
For example, the average SAT score in 2018 was about 1068. The average national ACT score in 2018 was 20.8. Knowing this, a student will still need to do a lot of prep work and studying to get a score good enough to get into Cornell, or any of the other Ivy League schools.
What Makes a University “Ivy League”?
Before we get into the easiest Ivy League school to get into, let’s take a look at what actually qualifies a school to be a member of the Ivy League.
The Ivy League wasn’t set up until 1954, even though the newest of the Ivy League schools, Cornell University, was founded in 1865. All of the Ivy League schools are also conveniently located in New England. However, their location has little to nothing to do with the schools’ elite statuses.
As surprising as it may sound, the term “Ivy League” describes the Division I athletic conference all the schools belong to. Nowadays, the schools are better-known for their academic than their athletics. In fact, none of the Ivy League schools give out athletic scholarships.
One important thing to note is that just because a school belongs to the Ivy League, it doesn’t automatically mean it is one of the top eight schools in the United States. While all of the schools are in the top 20 schools in the country, there are some great colleges out there that are not a part of the Ivy League.
Ivy League Schools Acceptance Rates
One of the easiest ways to determine which of the Ivy League schools are easiest to get into is to look at their acceptance rates.
Simply put, the acceptance rate is determined by taking the number of students who were accepted to each school compared to the number of students who applied. Below is a chart that shows each of the Ivy League school’s acceptance rate for incoming students for the 2020 school year.
As it is clear to see, the schools in the Ivy League have fairly low acceptance rates. Cornell is sometimes not taken as seriously as the other Ivy League colleges because their acceptance rates are the highest. However, as you can see by the graph below, they also get the highest number of applicants out of all of the schools in the Ivy League.
Many potential students might think that because Cornell has the highest acceptance rate that it is the easiest of the Ivy League colleges to get into, but that isn’t always the case. For example, a straight B student doesn’t have a great chance of getting into Cornell.
Which of the Ivy League are easiest to get into? Dartmouth seems to win the top slot with its low (compared to the Ivy League) GPA, SAT, and ACT averages. However, determined students have about an equal chance of getting accepted to Princeton or Cornell, as well.
Side note: You do not have to get into ivy league school to be happy in life. In fact, according to research my list with the 19 happiest jobs, are not really depending on an expensive college degree. Some jobs, a degree is not even necessary at all, like if you want to become a web developer, animator, youtuber and much more.
The remainder of the Ivy League schools will be a little more difficult to get into.
For students who are trying to get into the Ivy League, it’s best that they get serious about school as quickly as possible. Grades for their cumulative GPA will begin to count in their freshman year.
Remember, to get above a 4.0 GPA, students will also need to take honors classes sometime during their high school career. However, they do not need to take honors classes every year to have a great GPA. Studying for any and all standardized tests as soon as possible is also a wonderful idea.
All in all, getting into any Ivy League school will be difficult. With hard work, determination, and persistence, anything can happen! Good luck!