Best Ivy Fits for 2025?

Hello!

I am a rising senior going through the college process right now, and I am trying to figure out which colleges will fit my personality, passions, and goals the best. I haven’t done a ton of in depth research into the Ivies, but I am leaning toward Yale and Brown currently from the research I have done.

I go to a boarding school, so there will be a lot of competition for these schools. I am not super concerned about getting in based on grades/test scores/ECs, because I am in good shape academically among my peers and I am very involved at my school. My main concern is fit I guess, so if anyone can offer any insight it would be appreciated!

I am really passionate about academics, specifically politics, history, and science, and I love learning and am dedicated to being in spaces where I can learn the most in. I am also very sociable and extroverted, so I guess it isn’t all work and no play, and I consider myself easy going and always open to meeting new people. I am also involved in social movements and activism in my community, and I consider myself to be a leader type who loves to mobilize groups and teach others about the things I care about. I guess I really want to find a school where the culture pushes students academically while giving them an outlet to do what they care about and get involved outside of the community as well.

I am most likely going to apply with an Undecided major, but whichever major I pick will probably have something to do with history or politics, and I want to go to law school after college and pursue a career as an attorney or legal advocate. As for my own preferences for schools, I think I would do best in an urban environment or a suburban environment near a city, and I’d like to go to a school with a large and diverse undergrad student body. I am also looking for places where students have more say in the classes they take and where experimentation is okay. I also appreciate a competitive culture (I do come from a boarding school, after all), but not an extremely cutthroat or intense one.

Do you think I fit what the two schools I’m leaning toward are looking for? Are there any other schools (Ivy or non-Ivy) where I would likely fit well and should do more research on?

Disclaimer: I’m an incoming First-Year at Brown who did not apply to Yale, but I do know students who go to Yale.

You should probably post in the Yale or Brown threads on CC to get more people familiar with each school to comment.

Brown and Yale are vastly different schools curriculum-wise, so that should definitely be part of your decision.

I wrote a brief guide for pre-health students (but applies to everyone,) that gives comparisons and differences IMO between the schools: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/ivy-league/2193795-a-pre-healths-guide-to-the-ivies.html#latest

If you do like Brown more, I highly, highly recommend that you apply ED, but ONLY if ALL of the following are true:

  1. You LOVE Brown and would 110% attend if admitted.
  2. You are confident that you can write a well thought out and crafted application by the ED deadline of November 1st.
  3. You and your family can afford Brown if admitted (run financial aid calculators if applicable.)

If you still have any questions about Brown or the admissions process, feel free to let me know! My ADVICE is definitely more geared towards a more normal application cycle, but definitely applies since I applied last year. Make sure to write @PikachuRocks15 at the beginning of the post as otherwise CC will not notify me lol.

Hope this helps! Good luck with admissions! :smile:

I applaud your attitude of considering what a college could offer to you, and whether the colleges fits you. However, you should likely be putting a lot more effort in doing the same thing to colleges which are targets and to a safety than to colleges which are reaches or high reaches.

While I am sure that you are in very good shape academically, so are at least 1/3 of all students who are applying to colleges like Yale. Since these colleges are accepting about 5%-7% of all applicants, AND half of those places are going to applicants with various “hooks”, the chances of any applicant, no matter how good their GPA or ECs, are pretty low.

Unless you are a legacy and your parents are donating a lot of money, a recruited athlete, or have gained national fame for some reason or a another, there are about 5 times as many applicants like you as these colleges will accept. If you apply RD, that ratio will increase.

Apply, by all means, but don’t start planning your life at the Ivy of your choice.

In any case,

I would say that you should choose Brown, and start looking at other colleges.

In any case, for people to help you, you will need to provide a bit more info, like GPA, classes, a bit more about your ECs, what your parents can afford, etc. Nothing that can make you identifiable, of course, just basics.

Good luck!

@MWolf Hi! Thank you so much for the info. Again, it isn’t really a chance me thing because that’s in the colleges’ hands based on what they’re looking for (I already know I am baseline academically admissable, as many applicants are!) and as for my ECs, most are related to social justice, community service, and the humanities, and I have a lot of high-up leadership positions. I fill out all ten spots on the Common App activities list (with one being my summer program and one being my summer job), but all others are year round school organizations I’ve been involved in 3-4 years of high school. I’d say I have a pretty unique background among applicants from my school, and I go to a ‘feeder’ (although I hate that word and that concept) boarding school-- think Exeter, Andover, Choate, Taft, Groton, Deerfield, etc. My experience at a PWI has definitely made me want to look for a place that is community-centric and inclusive with the same academic rigor and prestige, so a student activist culture is important to me. I am low-income, but I am not super worried about paying for college, because most of the schools currently on my Common App have very generous aid packages and I have done cost calculators for Yale and Brown. Other schools I have done research on that I am interested in include UWash, Amherst, UVA, CMC, and a couple of the UCs (harder to pay for!), but I guess I just want the input of people more familiar with these schools on whether I seem to be a good fit for them, since they are my reaches and I will apply to one of them (leaning toward Yale) early. I definitely do have a hook, but again, I don’t want to be identifiable for personal security!

Again, thank you so much.

@julia387 If you are a low-income applicant, I highly, highly, highly recommend that you look into the Questbridge Scholar program and the Posse scholar programs, as they make attending a college like Brown with a high “sticker price” much more affordable. I know for a fact that the Questbridge program (idk about this year) has earlier deadlines and multiple rounds of selection, so if you’re interested, make sure you apply early! :smile:

The UCs will provide little to no aid to out of state students, unless you are admitted to the EXTREMELY competitive regent scholars programs, and the amount offered varies widely from school to school. Same goes for UW, though they offer very few students an OOS tuition fee waiver in the Honors program, however, this still leaves your COA to ~25-30K/yr.

The only two public schools that meet full need that I know of are UVA and UNC Chapel Hill, both of which are difficult to get into OOS.

If you’re interested in going to school in CA, USC has an extremely strong merit scholarship program (if you’re a national merit scholar, you will receive an automatic half-tuition merit scholarship) and will meet 100% of full demonstrated need and is need-blind like the Ivies/T20s. The scholarship deadline is December 1st, so make sure to apply by then! However, idk if it packages loans into your financial aid package or not, but you can check the website here: financialaid.usc.edu.

I’m obviously biased b/c I go here, but if you want freedom to shape your own curriculum, then Brown is by far the best Ivy at which to do so, given that the Open Curriculum has virtually no requirements (except for two writing designated classes, offered in multiple fields,) and you can S/NC (Pass/Fail) any field. Brown also has an extremely strong financial aid program called the Brown Promise that unlike Cornell and Dartmouth (which both have higher endowments than Brown btw,) does NOT count loans as a part of meeting your “full need.” While Yale has an equally strong financial aid program and a similar shopping period (at Brown you can sample multiple classes for the first 2 weeks of a semester before choosing which ones to take,) it does have a distribution requirement system where you HAVE to take different courses in different fields, rather than the choices being yours.

I will also add that for every school (including the Ivies, which don’t consider “demonstrated interest” on paper,) applying ED > EA b/c it’s the ultimate form of demonstrated interest: you’re essentially telling the school, if you admit me, I’ll go, and the school’s more likely to admit you b/c you’re more prepared application wise than the student applying right before the deadline. However, if you get selected for Questbridge the College Match process is VERY different, so this doesn’t apply.

Vanderbilt was my second choice out of the schools I got into this year, and though its curriculum is VERY different from Brown’s (it has a general ed curriculum called AXLE,) the general ed is 1/3 of your courses, which still allows you to double major/minor. They meet full need like Brown through the Opportunity Vanderbilt program, and offer ~15% of their class full-tuition merit scholarships (these have separate applications, and a December 1st application deadline.)

You can take a look at Brown’s concentrations here, and it’s extremely easy to double concentrate (major)–~20% of Brown students do!

Link: https://bulletin.brown.edu/the-college/concentrations/

Hope this helps!

I’ll second that proposal for Questbridge - I think that you are pretty much what they are looking for - high achieving, low income applicant.

As for being a good fit - I still think that Brown would be a good fit.

However - what is your safety? What college are you certain will accept you, you will be able to afford, AND you would be happy to attend?

I think that Pomona would be a better fit for you than CMC, and Pitzer would be even better, because of their curriculum, and WashU would not be a good fit at all, IMO (I assume that you are talking about WashU, St Louis). Williams is rural, so perhaps not a good fit for somebody interested in an Urban/Suburban school.

I would swap WashU out for a “match” college

I’d recommend Yale because of the SCEA option and the flexibility it gives. Both colleges look like good fits for you, but I’m not a big fan of ED especially for strong applicants.

You’ve researched what you want. But what gets you closer to an admit is understanding what they want. They do the choosing.

The most competitive colleges will care less about declarations of your confidence and extroversion, leadership, etc. It can be a risky approach. It’s more about the energies you actually show, choices you’ve made, how you stepped outside the hs “box.” And more, including some nice gal/guy who’ll fit and thrive, interact in multiple ways, try different things, not just what drives him or her. Some humility matters.

@lookingforward I mean I’m obviously not going to just write “I’m extroverted and I have leadership skills please accept me” on my application-- what I share on the internet isn’t exactly what is going on my common app, and for privacy reasons I already said I wasn’t going to specifically list all of my extracurriculars and achievements. I was just asking people familiar with these schools whether my interests and priorities would make me fit in on the campus. This isn’t a chance me by any means.

Thanks for clarifying. Yes, the diversity and drives of students at a highly competitive and urban college could suit you well. But there are, as you know, others where activism, compassion, energy are also fostered. Your own impact may come from “city” or could be from the opportunities in less urban settings with issues you can dig into.

The opportunity for community engagement and impact factored very large in D1’s targets. Huge, after her major. Plus diversity, size and the rest of “fit.”

It is not a major city, but just to see one example, look at Bates, in Maine. Look at what the city is facing and the college’s substantial “community partnership” program. She had the opportunity to engage in multiple ways, politics, advocacy, schools, the immigrant community, and more. And good financial aid.

Amherst and Brown but have curricula with a lot of freedom. As I remember Yale has quite a few distribution requirements. Colorado College has students take one class at a time- does that interest you?

Brown’s financial aid is not as good as Yale’s and probably Amherst’s (or at least that was true a few years ago; Brown did get rid of loans). Make sure to compare costs.

Check out the “little Ivies” (google), and the Colleges that Change Lives website. Schools like Tufts, Vassar, Barnard (if you are female), Pomona…many others. By all means look into Questbridge.

Since we don’t know much about your EC’s, your background or your hook it is hard to answer about fit.

It’s good that you seem to realize that academics just puts you in the pool.

Providence and New Haven are both small cities, but with very different feel to them. For my money, I would pick Providence, which was looking so lovely last time I visited. Both towns would offer plenty of opportunity for community engagement and activism and put you on the direct train line to DC, NYC and Boston.

Hi! I’m a first-year at Princeton, but your interests in politics, history, and science sound like they would be well matched at any Ivy. The culture at Princeton certainly pushes students academically, but there are plenty of extracurriculars across all disciplines. And while Princeton doesn’t have its own law school, it does have strong, supportive history and politics departments. It’s also just a few hours from NYC and Philly, where plenty of students can travel back and forth.