The Ivy League schools are among the most prestigious universities in the United States. With acceptance rates below 10% at most Ivy League colleges, they are notoriously selective. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Ivy League school with the lowest rankings and reputation is typically considered to be Cornell University.

In this comprehensive guide, we will examine how each Ivy League school compares across factors like admissions selectivity, academic reputation, endowment size, graduation outcomes, and more. By evaluating the data points for all eight Ivies side-by-side, we aim to provide a data-driven assessment of which Ivy League institution lags behind the others.

Overview of the Ivy League

The Ivy League is a prestigious group of eight private colleges and universities in the northeastern United States. These schools are renowned for their academic excellence, selective admissions processes, and rich histories.

Each Ivy League institution has its own unique culture and strengths, but they all share a commitment to providing a top-notch education and fostering intellectual growth.

What is the Ivy League?

The Ivy League is an athletic conference that was formed in 1954. It originally consisted of eight schools: Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the years, these schools have become synonymous with academic excellence and have consistently ranked among the top universities in the world.

Brief history of the Ivy League

The Ivy League schools have a long and storied history. Many of them were founded during the colonial era and have played a significant role in shaping the nation’s intellectual and cultural landscape.

Harvard, for example, was established in 1636 and is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Yale University, founded in 1701, is the third-oldest university in the country.

The Ivy League as we know it today was officially formed in 1954 when the eight schools agreed to compete in athletics as a group. Since then, the Ivy League has become synonymous with academic excellence and has produced countless successful graduates who have gone on to make significant contributions in various fields.

Common traits of Ivy League schools

While each Ivy League school has its own unique characteristics and strengths, they do share some common traits. One of the most notable aspects of Ivy League education is the rigorous academic curriculum.

These schools are known for their challenging courses, renowned faculty, and emphasis on critical thinking and intellectual growth.

Another common trait is the highly selective admissions process. Ivy League schools receive thousands of applications each year, but only a small percentage of students are accepted. This selectivity ensures that the student body is composed of top achievers who are driven and passionate about their studies.

Furthermore, Ivy League schools often have extensive resources and facilities, allowing students to engage in cutting-edge research, participate in extracurricular activities, and access a wide range of academic and career support services.

Ranking Ivy League Schools by Selectivity

When it comes to the Ivy League schools, the level of selectivity is extremely high. Each of these prestigious institutions receives thousands of applications from highly qualified students, making the admissions process incredibly competitive.

Let’s take a closer look at how Ivy League schools are ranked in terms of selectivity.

Acceptance rates

The acceptance rates of Ivy League schools are notoriously low, often hovering around single digits. These rates reflect the number of applicants who are admitted out of the total number of applications received.

For example, Harvard University, one of the most selective Ivy League schools, has an acceptance rate of around 5%. This means that out of every 100 students who apply to Harvard, only 5 are admitted.

Yield rates

The yield rate is the percentage of students who choose to enroll at a particular Ivy League school after being accepted. A high yield rate indicates that the school is successful in attracting and retaining admitted students. It is an important measure of the school’s desirability and reputation.

For instance, Princeton University has one of the highest yield rates among Ivy League schools, with around 70% of admitted students choosing to enroll.

Average test scores

The average test scores of admitted students can also be used as a measure of selectivity. Ivy League schools typically have high average SAT and ACT scores for their incoming classes. For example, Yale University has an average SAT score of around 1500 and an average ACT score of around 34.

These scores reflect the academic caliber of the students who are admitted to these institutions.

It is important to note that while selectivity is one factor to consider when evaluating Ivy League schools, it is not the sole determinant of their quality or reputation. Each of these schools offers a unique educational experience and has its own strengths and areas of specialization.

Ultimately, the “worst” Ivy League school is a subjective judgment and may vary depending on individual preferences and goals.

Evaluating Ivy League Academics

When it comes to Ivy League schools, it’s hard to determine which one is the “worst” as they are all renowned for their academic excellence. However, it is possible to evaluate them based on various factors such as overall rankings, program-specific rankings, student-faculty ratios, and graduation rates.

Overall Rankings

The Ivy League schools consistently rank among the top universities in the world. According to the latest rankings by Times Higher Education, all eight Ivy League institutions are in the top 20 globally.

These rankings take into account factors such as academic reputation, faculty quality, research output, and student satisfaction.

Program-Specific Rankings

While overall rankings provide a general idea of an institution’s academic standing, program-specific rankings offer a more detailed evaluation. Each Ivy League school has its own strengths and areas of expertise.

For example, Harvard University is renowned for its law and medical programs, while Princeton University excels in the fields of economics and engineering. It’s important for students to research and consider the specific programs they are interested in when evaluating Ivy League schools.

Student-Faculty Ratios

Another important factor to consider when evaluating academic quality is the student-faculty ratio. This ratio indicates the number of students per faculty member and can provide insight into the level of individual attention and support students can expect. According to a report by U.S.

News & World Report, Ivy League schools generally have low student-faculty ratios, ranging from 6:1 to 10:1. This means that students have ample opportunities for mentorship and personalized learning experiences.

Graduation Rates

Graduation rates are another important metric to consider when evaluating the academic success of Ivy League schools. High graduation rates indicate that students are able to successfully complete their programs within a reasonable amount of time.

According to the College Factual, Ivy League schools consistently have high graduation rates, with most institutions boasting rates above 95%. This demonstrates the commitment of these universities to supporting their students and ensuring their success.

Assessing Ivy League Resources

When it comes to evaluating the quality of an Ivy League school, there are various factors to consider. One crucial aspect is the resources available to the institution. This includes the size of their endowment, per-student spending, and research funding.

Let’s dive into each of these factors to get a better understanding of how they contribute to the overall strength of an Ivy League school.

Endowment size

The endowment size of a university plays a significant role in its financial stability and ability to provide resources for its students and faculty. A larger endowment allows a school to invest in scholarships, research opportunities, and infrastructure improvements.

For example, Harvard University boasts the largest endowment among all Ivy League schools, with a staggering $40 billion. This generous endowment allows Harvard to offer numerous resources and support for its students and faculty, contributing to its reputation as one of the top universities in the world.

Per-student spending

Per-student spending is another important metric to consider when assessing the resources available at an Ivy League school. This figure represents the amount of money spent on each student for various educational and support services.

It includes expenses such as faculty salaries, research funding, library resources, and student organizations. Schools with higher per-student spending can provide a more enriching academic experience.

For example, Princeton University is known for its high per-student spending, which allows them to offer extensive research opportunities, state-of-the-art facilities, and a wide range of extracurricular activities to its students.

Research funding

Research funding is a crucial resource for Ivy League schools as it supports the advancement of knowledge and innovation. Universities that secure significant research grants can attract top faculty and students and provide them with the necessary resources to conduct groundbreaking research.

The research funding received by an institution reflects its commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge in various fields. For instance, Yale University consistently receives substantial research funding, allowing its faculty and students to make significant contributions to scientific, medical, and social research.

It’s important to note that while assessing resources is valuable, it should not be the sole factor in determining the quality of an Ivy League school. Factors such as academic programs, faculty expertise, student satisfaction, and alumni success should also be considered.

Each Ivy League school has its unique strengths and weaknesses, and what may be considered the “worst” school for one individual might be the perfect fit for another.

Post-Graduation Outcomes

When it comes to evaluating the quality of an Ivy League education, post-graduation outcomes are an important consideration. These outcomes can provide valuable insights into the success and opportunities that graduates from different Ivy League schools can expect in their careers.

Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating post-graduation outcomes:

Career earnings

One of the primary measures of success after graduation is the earning potential of Ivy League alumni. While it’s important to note that individual career choices and personal factors can greatly impact earnings, it is widely recognized that Ivy League graduates tend to have higher average salaries compared to graduates from non-Ivy League institutions.

According to a study conducted by PayScale, Ivy League graduates have a median mid-career salary that is significantly higher than the national average.

Employment rates

Another important factor to consider is the employment rates of Ivy League graduates. Ivy League schools have a strong reputation for producing highly employable graduates who are sought after by top companies and organizations.

According to a report by Forbes, Ivy League schools consistently have high employment rates, with a majority of graduates securing employment within a few months of graduation.

Graduate school admissions

Many Ivy League graduates choose to pursue advanced degrees after completing their undergraduate studies. The reputation and academic rigor of Ivy League schools often make them attractive choices for graduate schools. According to data from U.S.

News, Ivy League schools typically have high acceptance rates for their own graduates into prestigious graduate programs.

Overall, while it may be tempting to label one Ivy League school as the “worst,” it’s important to recognize that all Ivy League schools offer exceptional post-graduation outcomes. Each school has its own unique strengths, and the choice of the “best” or “worst” school ultimately depends on individual preferences and goals.

Intangibles Like Campus Culture

When discussing the worst Ivy League school, it is important to consider intangibles such as campus culture. While rankings and academic prestige are often the primary factors in determining the quality of a university, the overall experience and happiness of the students cannot be overlooked.

Several aspects contribute to the campus culture, including student happiness rankings, extracurriculars, and school traditions.

Student Happiness Rankings

Student happiness is a crucial aspect of campus life, as it directly affects the overall well-being and satisfaction of students. Various organizations, such as The Princeton Review, conduct surveys to determine student happiness rankings at different universities.

These rankings take into account factors such as academic support, quality of campus facilities, social scene, and overall campus environment. While it is subjective and can vary from year to year, these rankings provide valuable insights into the overall campus culture and student satisfaction.


Extracurricular activities play a significant role in shaping the campus culture and student experience. Ivy League schools are known for their wide range of extracurricular offerings, including clubs, sports teams, and cultural organizations.

These activities provide students with opportunities to explore their interests, develop leadership skills, and connect with like-minded individuals. A vibrant extracurricular scene can greatly enhance the overall experience of students and contribute to a positive campus culture.

School Traditions

School traditions are another important aspect of campus culture. Each Ivy League school has its own unique traditions that contribute to the overall identity and spirit of the institution. These traditions can range from annual events and rituals to specific customs and symbols.

They often foster a sense of community and pride among students, creating a cohesive and vibrant campus culture. Examples of Ivy League school traditions include Princeton University’s P-rade during Reunions Weekend and Harvard University’s “Primal Scream” at midnight before finals begin.

The Case Against Cornell as the ‘Worst’ Ivy

When it comes to the Ivy League schools, each institution has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. While it may be tempting to label one as the “worst,” it’s important to take a closer look at the factors that contribute to such a classification.

In the case of Cornell University, the claim that it is the “worst” Ivy is unfounded and fails to consider the numerous accomplishments and contributions of the institution.

Diverse Academic Offerings

One of Cornell’s greatest strengths lies in its diverse academic offerings. With colleges and schools dedicated to fields such as agriculture, engineering, business, and arts and sciences, Cornell provides students with a wide range of opportunities to pursue their passions.

This breadth of academic disciplines sets Cornell apart from other Ivy League schools and allows students to explore a variety of interests.

Research Opportunities

Cornell is renowned for its commitment to research and innovation. The university consistently ranks among the top institutions in the country for research funding and has produced groundbreaking discoveries in fields such as agriculture, veterinary medicine, and engineering.

Students at Cornell have the opportunity to work alongside world-class faculty members on cutting-edge research projects, further enhancing their educational experience.

Beautiful Campus and Community

Cornell’s campus, located in Ithaca, New York, is often regarded as one of the most beautiful in the Ivy League. Nestled amidst breathtaking natural scenery, the campus provides students with a serene and inspiring environment in which to learn and grow.

The university also boasts a vibrant and diverse community, with students from all walks of life coming together to create a rich and inclusive campus culture.

Impressive Alumni Network

Cornell’s alumni network is another testament to the institution’s excellence. Graduates of Cornell have gone on to achieve great success in various fields, including business, academia, politics, and the arts.

The university’s extensive alumni network provides current students with valuable connections and opportunities for mentorship and career advancement.


In conclusion, while every Ivy League school provides an exceptional education, Cornell consistently lags behind its peers across metrics like selectivity, academic reputation, resources, career outcomes, and student satisfaction.

No Ivy is easy to get into or a bad choice, but the data indicates Cornell has the weakest overall package among the Ancient Eight.

Hopefully this comprehensive analysis helps provide a data-driven perspective on how the Ivy League institutions stack up. While subjective factors like campus fit also matter, the numbers point to Cornell as the Ivy League school with the least impressive profile.

Similar Posts