Poor Mans Ivy League and Other College Groups You Didn’t Know Existed


You know about the Ivy League – eight private colleges located in the Northeastern United States that are known for their academic and athletic competence and prestige.

If these colleges were high school students, they would be the cool crowd, and the “Ivy League” would be the coolest clique in the school.

But if they’re the cool crowd, what other cliques are there?

Here are some other college listings and groups you probably didn’t know about.….

Public Ivies


Berkeley College #1 public Ivies School- photo source: en.wikipedia.org

The actual Ivy League is composed of 8 private higher academic institutions, but it doesn’t mean that public institutions don’t have the same high quality.

In 1985, Richard Moll published a book titled “Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities”.

In the book, Moll listed public colleges that were similar in athletic and academic experience to the Ivy League schools, but were much more affordable and less selective.

The original list included the following schools in the top spots:

Some institutions felt left out, and right now, there are a little more than 30 colleges recognized as Public Ivies.

According to Howard and Matthew Greene in their 2001 edition the University of California, Berkeley gets the top spot.

Other spots go to: UCLA, University of Michigan, University of California – San Diego, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and University of Washington – Seattle.

Hidden Ivies


The Hidden Ivies Book Cover “Thirty Colleges of Excellence” image source: Amazon.com

Howard and Matthew Green had published a book on college education in 2000.

Before they listed the Public Ivies, they listed the “Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence”.

The colleges included in this group are those that are small, and are often liberal arts schools, and offer the same quality of college education and experience as the Ivy League schools.

This group included the “Little Ivies”: Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Middlebury College, Swarthmore College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College.

In 2009, a second edition, “The Hidden Ivies: 50 Top Colleges – From Amherst to Williams – That Rival the Ivy League” when it was published.

In August of 2016 The latest and 3rd edition of Howard and Mathew Green’s book is called “63 Of Americas Top Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities” (ISBN : 9780062420909)

Black Ivy League


Black Ivy League Colleges- image source: Pinterest

This group of colleges is used colloquially, and is not formally recognized.

It refers to a group of historically Black colleges that served African-American students, many from affluent families, before the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

In 1984, a book was published by Dr. Jacqueline Fleming titled “Blacks in Colleges”.

Fleming ranks the following colleges as the Black Ivy League:

  • Fisk University
  • Morehouse College
  • Spelman College
  • Dillard University
  • Howard University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Hampton University
  • Tuskegee University

A 2003 series by Bill Maxwell on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the same colleges were mentioned.

Many of these schools gained prominence and renown around the entire country to stepping their college education to the next level.

Before and during the 1960s, these colleges were home to most African-American students.

After the Civil Rights Movement, however, many blacks started to attend predominantly white colleges, leaving the HBCUs struggling to attract more students.

The HBCUs have more African-American National Merit Scholarship recipients than Ivy League schools, though.

Seven Sisters


Vassar College Celebrating Founders Day in 1935- Photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

The Seven Sisters refer to a group of liberal arts colleges in the Northeastern part of the country. They are all historically women’s colleges (hence the name).

The Seven Sisters Schools Listed in Chronological Order:

  • Vassar College (chartered 1861)
  • Wellesley College (chartered 1870 and attended by Hillary Clinton as a young college student)
  • Smith College (chartered 1871)
  • Bryn Mawr College (chartered 1885)
  • Mt. Holyoke College (chartered 1888)
  • Barnard College (chartered 1889)
  • Radcliffe College (chartered 1894)

Among the 7 colleges, only Vassar is now a co-educational institution.

Barnard College was actually built in relation to Yale University, which did not accept female students at the time.

Radcliffe College, meanwhile, was established to admit female college students who had wanted a Harvard College education.

The two schools have now merged under Harvard College, where Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study only accepts graduate fellows in the present.

Colonial Colleges


photo of Rutgers University (a non-Ivy League colonial college)- source: en.wikipedia.org

The Colonial Colleges were those higher academic institutions that conferred degrees, and were established prior to the Independence, and before the United States of America became one nation.

These colleges have been identified through “The Cambridge History of English and American Literature”, a collection of literary texts from Old English until late Victorian.

Of the 9 colonial colleges, only 2 are not part of the Ivy League: The College of William & Mary, and Rutgers University for a number of reasons.

Both colleges experienced financial difficulties and had become public institutions after a period of turmoil in American history.

Two of the colleges started out as secondary schools: Dartmouth College began as a department of Moor’s Charity School (a high school started by the Dartmouth founder)

The University of Pennsylvania was also the First Academy of Philadelphia, before it expanded into a higher education institution.

There are other colleges founded during the Colonial era, but they weren’t chartered and didn’t offer degree programs until after the official founding of the nation.

Names of the Other Colonial Colleges:

  • Free School (now University of Delaware)
  • College of Charleston
  • Pittsburg Academy (University of Pittsburg)
  • Hampden-Sydney College, among others
Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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