Public Ivies, Public Ivy Schools

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The transition from middle school to high school can be difficult and it’s not uncommon for new high school students to struggle academically during their first year. Because of this, most colleges recognize that performance during the first year of high school is not the best indicator of a student’s ability, dedication, or intelligence. Public Ivy League Schools are no different in this consideration. If you have performed poorly during your first year of high school, don’t despair, there’s still hope. If you really want to attend one of the top Public Ivy Schools in the U.S. just make sure your academic performance improves during your sophomore, junior, and senior years.

While earning high marks is a large portion of getting into one of the famous Public Ivy League Schools, grades alone will not be enough. To gain entrance into a public ivy league school, students should also consider the following:

Pulic Ivy League School Admissions Officers Know Which High Schools Are Academically Tough

Top Public Ivy League school admissions officers will take your high school’s curriculum and the level of the difficulty into consideration when evaluating your GPA and individual class grades. This means that if your grades aren’t excellent but you’re attending a high school that offers a very challenging curriculum or are taking AP or advanced classes, you may still have a good shot at being considered and admitted.

Earning An “A” in Study Hall Won’t Impress Public Ivy Admissions Officers

More than anything else, the admissions officers at the public ivies are most interested in determining whether or not an applicant has the skills, dedication, and knowledge they’ll need to handle the rigors and fast pace of a public ivy league college education. Students who enroll in and do well in difficult high school courses (e.g. chemistry, calculus, advanced placement classes, etc.) demonstrate that they have not only a baseline required intelligence level but also a drive and discipline to do what it takes to succeed. The type of classes you choose to take in high school does matter. A 3.9 GPA might not get you into an ivy league school if you take the easiest classes your high school has to offer. A “B+” in AP Chemistry or a college extension class is going to be much more impressive than an “A” in remedial math or home economics.

Winners Prove They Can Succeed In A Public Ivy League School

Excuses don’t hold weight in the real world and a public ivy league college isn’t about to admit a student they feel is unprepared for the academic rigors that a public ivy school presents. Public Ivy League Schools are known to look for students who have demonstrated over several years that they are prepared for the demands of college. Students can prove themselves to college admissions officer by taking high school seriously, getting good grades, taking challenging courses, involving themselves in unique extra-curricular activities, fulfilling leadership roles, and proving that they have what it takes to be successful academically and professionally.

Smart Slackers Can Still Get Admitted

As we mentioned previously, if you don’t do well in high school but have the smarts, all is not lost. By attending a junior or community college after high school there is a slight chance that you may still be able to prove to a Public Ivy League school admission’s board that you have what it takes. If you opt for this route, be prepared to work very hard as junior colleges and community colleges are often more demanding than high school. As a rule, it is much more preferable to do well in high school and move directly into the four-year public ivy league school of your choice.

The Eight Original Public Ivies

So, what exactly is a Public Ivy League school, also known as a Public Ivy? The term “Public Ivy” was first coined in the book Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities written by Richard Moll and published in 1985. The term specifically refers to colleges and universities in the U.S. that provide a private Ivy League collegiate and academic experience but at a public school price.

During his career in education, Richard Moll worked as an admissions officer at Yale University, and as the director of admissions at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Bowdoin College, and Vassar College. Moll also traveled the United States exploring and researching various higher education institutions. During his travels and through his research he identified eight public higher education institutions which he felt had the look and academic rigor of an Ivy League University. In his analysis of each institution, Moll considered academic excellence, age of the institution, appearance, school traditions, as well as several other shared characteristics among Public Ivy League Schools.

The eight original Public Ivies as identified by Richard Moll in 1985 include:

In his book, Moll also suggested several other colleges and universities that were “worthy runners-up” to be Public Ivies. These included University of Colorado at Boulder, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, New College of the University of South Florida (today known as New College of Florida), University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University at University Park, SUNY Binghamton (also known as Binghamton University), University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Washington.

Public Ivies According to Greene’s Guides

In 2001, 16 years after Richard Moll’s book, Howard and Matthew Greene of Greene’s Guides produced The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities. The newer list expanded upon Moll’s list of Public Ivies to include 30 colleges and universities. While Moll’s list of Public Ivies focused on a large variety of factors, the Greene’s list focused on public schools whose academic programs were of a comparable quality to those offered by traditional Ivy League institutions. The table below includes all Public Ivy League colleges, as identified by the Greene’s Guides, organized by region and listed in alphabetical order.





Great Lakes and The Midwest

Institutional Comparisons

Quite a few schools that are recognized as Public Ivies consistently appear among the top US schools in a variety of rankings produced by U.S. News & World Report, one of the premier authorities on college rankings and comparisons. Currently, about fifty percent of the top 12 ranked national universities for undergraduate studies are of the eight original Public Ivies as listed by Moll.

One major difference between traditional private Ivy League schools and the majority of Public Ivies is their involvement in intercollegiate athletics. Ivy Leagues historically prohibited athletic scholarships, where Public Ivies readily award athletic scholarships to their student-athletes and participate in major athletic conferences (e.g. Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, etc.)

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