Most commonly associated with the NESCAC
The Little Ivies are restricted to the Northeastern United States
|Named after||Ivy League, Ivy plant|
|New England, Northeastern United States|
|8 private liberal arts colleges|
Little Ivies (or singular: Little Ivy) is an academic and descriptive term that has been used in the United States to characterize eight private liberal arts colleges in the Northeastern United States. These schools tend to exhibit academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism similar to the Ivy League, but at smaller, often more rural, institutions.
Originally, it was informally used to describe members of the Ivy League that were in comparison to the Big Three, but has since been associated with schools that have smaller student bodies and exhibit traits comparable to the Ivy League in some way usually in academic prominence. The term is most often associated with select members of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). It also includes one school drawn from the Centennial Conference due to its social prestige, history and academic rigor. The Little Ivies are restricted to colleges and universities located in the Northeastern United States.
The grouping is also linked to various consortia that some of the associated schools are members of such as the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium and the former Triangular League known as the Little Three. The term was first used in 1955 but was subsequently popularized through various lists by publications and academic pundits. All of the Little Ivies place in the top 10% of the 2016 U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and among the top schools in the Washington Monthly college rankings. U.S. News has named a member of the Little Ivies as the best liberal arts college in the country since it began ranking colleges, naming Williams College the top one in 2016. In reference to the Little Ivies, Greene's Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence asserted that they have "scaled the heights of prestige and selectivity and also turn away thousands of our best and brightest young men and women."
|Institution||Location||Hidden Ivies||NESCAC||Admit Rate||U.S. News||Washington Monthly LAC Rank (2015)||Forbes National Rank|
|Bowdoin College||Maine||Yes||Yes||14.9%||4 (tie)||35||19|
|Colby College||Maine||Yes||Yes||22.5%||19 (tie)||52||41|
|Middlebury College||Vermont||Yes||Yes||17.0%||4 (tie)||78||34|
|Wesleyan University||Connecticut||Yes||Yes||21.9%||14 (tie)||14||9|
American Northeast participate in "planting the ivy," a custom started in the early 1800s. As Ivy naturally grows in the climate provided by the Northeast, schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference incorporate the Ivy plant in their traditions and social gatherings. Schools in the athletic conference often participate in an Ivy Day in which an Ivy Stone is placed on the sides of academic buildings to commemorate student achievement. The term "Little Ivies," or singular, a "Little Ivy" first started being used to compare schools on the east coast that provided the student with an Ivy League caliber education in 1955. When denouncing and decrying the over-competitiveness and social snobbery of these schools, President of Swarthmore College, stated in The New York Times:
"We not only have the Ivy League, and pretty clearly understood though seldom mentioned gradations within the Ivy League, but we have the Little Ivy League, and the jockeying for position within that."
|Institution||Location||Founded||Founding religious affiliation||2015 Enrollment||2014 Endowment (in billion USD)||2014 Endowment per student (USD)|
Note Founding dates and religious affiliations are those stated by the institution itself. Many of them had complex histories in their early years and the stories of their origins are subject to interpretation. See footnotes for details where appropriate. "Religious affiliation" refers to financial sponsorship, formal association with, and promotion by, a religious denomination. All of the Little Ivies are private and not currently associated with any religion.
Usage of the term
Schools are considered Little Ivies exhibit academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism similar to the Ivy League, but are set in smaller, often more rural, areas. Most common schools associated with the Little Ivies are:
- Members of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). The term is used to describe the athletic conference in general but only Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Middlebury, Wesleyan, and Williams have been referenced specifically as Little Ivies.
- The colleges of the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium (CBB), three academically selective colleges in Maine: Bates College, Bowdoin College, and Colby College. These schools are colloquially known as the "Maine Big Three", alluding to the Big Three of the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.
- The colleges of the "Little Three": Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams. This former athletic league was founded as the "Triangular League" in 1899. These colleges are selective liberal arts colleges located in New England. The term has also been used to compare the three institutions with the Big Three of the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.
- Swarthmore College, due to its social prestige, history and academic rigor.
Examples of use
- The New York Times, February 10, 1955, p. 33 quotes the President of Swarthmore, describing and decrying social snobbery: "We not only have the Ivy League, and the pretty clearly understood though seldom mentioned gradations within the Ivy League, but we have the Little Ivy League, and the jockeying for position within that."
- Harvard Magazine
- Associate Justice Kennedy
- Episcopal High School of Houston
- Midwest Elite Hockey League
- The Atlantic Monthly: "Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams"
- A Small College in Maine, 1993, Calhoun, Charles mentioned "...Of the three top schools in Maine, the Bates, Bowdoin, Colby drew the most notation to what was informally characterized as a smaller Ivy League, one that provided an Ivy League education with a smaller student body."
- General Catalogue of Bates College, 1980, (n.b. ref. Faith By Their Progressive Works) was referenced, "the group seemed to draw power from their comparisons to the Ivy League operating in such a group entitled, 'the Little Ivies."... Bowdoin often drawing the connection to Harvard, Bates to Princeton, and Colby to Yale."
- The Observer of Case Western Reserve University equates the "Little Ivy League" with the NESCAC, "Mentoring program links faculty and student athletes", Matt Cannan September 22, 2006).
Other college groupings
- Quaker Consortium — an arrangement among three liberal arts colleges, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Swarthmore College, and one research university, the University of Pennsylvania, in the greater Philadelphia area.
- Black Ivy League — informal list of colleges that attracted top African American students prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s
- Jesuit Ivy — Use of "Ivy" to characterize Boston College
- Public Ivies — Group of public U.S. universities thought to "provide an Ivy League collegiate experience at a public school price"
- Seven Sisters — The schools of the Seven Sisters, historically women's colleges, could be considered a counterpart of the Little Ivies. Schools in this group are occasionally described as "little Ivies" themselves; for example, the Business Times of Singapore mentions "Amherst, Williams, Smith, Wesleyan and Swarthmore" as examples, and Greenes' Guides, illustrated in the chart above, ranks Vassar among the top ranked colleges.
- Southern Ivies — Use of "Ivy" to characterize universities in the U. S. South
- "National Liberal Arts College Ranking: Top Liberal Arts Colleges - US News Best Colleges". U.S World News.
- "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
- Greene, Howard. "Excerpt from Greenes' Guides to Educational Planning: The Hidden Ivies Thirty Colleges of Excellence by Howard Greene". Harpercollins.com. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
- Greene, Howard and Matthew Greene (2000) Greenes' Guides to Educational Planning: The Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-095362-4, book description at HarperCollins.com
- Caldwell, Tanya. "Colleges Report 2013 Admission Rates". New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". US News and World Report. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "College Guide 2015". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "America's Top Colleges". Retrieved 2016-07-07.
- Penn website (accessed February 27, 2009)
- Bates College website Archived April 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (accessed February 27, 2009)
- "From Tears to Beers: A History of Ivies Weekend — The Bowdoin Orient". The Bowdoin Orient. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
- President of Swarthmore College (1955). "Little Ivy League". The New York Times.
- One version of the facts: my life in ... - Henry Edmison Duckworth - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
- "The Global Language Monitor » Blog Archive » 2011 Top 300 Colleges and Universities Ranked by Internet 'Brand Equity'". Languagemonitor.com. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
- Archipelago, World. "Greenes' Guides to Educational Planning: The Hidden Ivies - Howard Greene, Matthew W. Greene - Paperback". HarperCollins US. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
- Greene, Howard; Greene, Matthew W. (2010-05-11). The Hidden Ivies: 50 Top Colleges—from Amherst to Williams —That Rival the Ivy League. Harper Collins. ISBN 9780062011640.
- "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. July 30, 2014.
- "Are Ivy Degrees Worth the Sacrifices?". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "The Selectivity Illusion". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "Bowdoin Football Featured in Sporting News "50 States, 50 Rivalries" - Bowdoin". athletics.bowdoin.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
- Calhoun, Charles (1993). A Small College in Maine. Hubbard Hall, Bowdoin College: Bowdoin College. p. 163.: Bowdoin College. pp. 12, 19.
...Of the three top schools in Maine, the CBB drew the most notation to what was informally characterized as a smaller Ivy League, one that provided an Ivy League education with a smaller student body
- Eaton, Mabel (1930). General Catalogue of Bates College and Cobb Divinity School. Coram Library, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Bates College. pp. 34, 38, 49.
- Larson, Timothy (2005). Faith by Their Works: The Progressive Tradition at Bates College from 1855 to 1877. Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Edmund S. Muskie Archives. pp. 3, 51.
... the group [CBB] seemed to draw power from their comparisons to the Ivy League operating in such a group entitled, 'the Little Ivies."... Bowdoin often drawing the connection to Harvard, Bates to Princeton, and Colby to Yale..
- Clark, Charles E (2005). Bates Through the Years: an Illustrated History. Edmund Muskie Archives: Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Edmund Muskie Archives. p. 12.
With a progressive notion of academic integrity, Bates along with Bowdoin became the major figure heads of Ivy League caliber faculty..
- Potts, David B. (1999) Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England. Wesleyan University Press, ISBN 0-8195-6360-9. p. 183: "Wesleyan joined Amherst and Williams in early 1899 to form a new 'Triangular League.' Football, baseball and track competition in this league became something of a trial run for later contests in a wide range of sports under the rubric 'Little Three.'"
- United States Congress, Senate, Committee on Finance (1951): Revenue Act of 1951. p. 1768. Material by Stuart Hedden, president of Wesleyan University Press, inserted into the record: "Popularly known, together with Williams and Amherst, as one of the Little Three colleges of New England, [Wesleyan] has for nearly a century and a quarter served the public welfare by maintaining with traditional integrity the highest academic standards." Published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951.
- Tyre, Peg & William Lee Adams (2005), "Prep Chic," Newsweek, May 4, 2005 "23 percent of Taft graduates attended one of the Ivies or little Ivies (Wesleyan, Williams and Amherst)."
- Union-News (Springfield, MA), December 5, 1988, p. 13 (quotes a Bryn Mawr official: "If the Seven Sisters were now Siblings, she asked, did that mean that Wesleyan, Williams and Amherst colleges, referred to as the 'Little Ivies,' were cousins?")
- The New York Times (1970): "Students decline Wesleyan offers," June 15, 1970, p. 28: "Amherst College, a member with Williams and Wesleyan in the Little Ivy League..."
- Kingston, Paul William and Lionel S. Lewis, "Introduction: Studying Elite Schools in America" (1990). In The High Status Track: Studies of Elite Schools and Stratification. SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-0010-7. p. xviii: "More widely recognized is the distinctive cachet of an Ivy League education—and possibly that at the 'Little Three' (Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams) and a small number of other private colleges and universities."
- Duckworth, Henry. One version of the facts: my life in the ivory tower. University of Manitoba Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-88755-670-1.
-  Archived May 11, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Library Building Projects". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- The Business Times of Singapore mentions Little Ivies as "elite liberal arts colleges" that are "small and selective." April 17, 2001.