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Little Ivy

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Little Ivy

Little Ivies is a colloquialism referring to a group of small, selective[1] American liberal arts colleges; however, it does not denote any official organization.

Institutions identified as Little Ivies are usually old, small, exclusive, and academically competitive liberal arts colleges located in the northeastern United States. The colloquialism is meant to imply that Little Ivies share similarities of distinction with the universities of the Ivy League.

  • It is sometimes synonymous with the "Little Three," Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams.[2][3][4] (The term "Little Three" is well-defined as a former athletic league[5][6][7] and has often been used to identify these schools as a socially and academically elite trio;[8][9][10][11][2] the term has also been used to compare the three institutions with the so-called Big Three of the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.[12][13]) Encarta defines "Little Ivies" to refer to these three schools, which it characterizes as "small" and "exclusive" and as having "high academic standards and long traditions."[14]
  • It can refer to the schools of the modern-day New England Small College Athletic Conference[15][16] (NESCAC), which includes the "Little Three" together with Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, and Tufts.
  • Greene and Greene's guide, Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence refers specifically--in its introduction--to "the group historically known as the 'Little Ivies' (including Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, and Williams)" which it says have "scaled the heights of prestige and selectivity and also turn away thousands of our best and brightest young men and women."[17][18]

Some schools that are often called "Little Ivies" include:

Institution Location Little Three Greenes' Guides "Little Ivies"[17][19] NESCAC Class of 2017 Acceptance Rate[20] Notes
Amherst College Amherst, Massachusetts 13.7% Founding NESCAC member.
Bates College Lewiston, Maine 23.7%
Bowdoin College Brunswick, Maine 14.5% Founding NESCAC member.
Colby College Waterville, Maine 26.0%
Colgate University Hamilton, New York 26.0% Competes athletically in the Patriot League.
Connecticut College New London, Connecticut 35.2%[21]
Hamilton College Clinton, New York 27.1%
Haverford College Haverford, Pennsylvania 23.3% Competes athletically in the Centennial Conference. [5]
Middlebury College Middlebury, Vermont 19.2%
Swarthmore College Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 14.1% Competes athletically in the Centennial Conference. [9]
Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut 31.1%
Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts 18.7% No longer a small liberal arts college; a "research university" with approximately 10,000 students (about 5,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduates).[22]
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, New York 23.1% Competes athletically in the Liberty League.
Wesleyan University Middletown, Connecticut 19.4% Founding NESCAC member.
Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts 16.9% Founding NESCAC member.

History

Founding of the institutions

Institution Founded Founding religious affiliation
Amherst College 1821 Congregationalist
Bates College 1855 (as Maine State Seminary) Free Will Baptist
Bowdoin College 1794 Congregationalist
Colby College 1813 (as Maine Literary and Theological Institution) Northern Baptist
Colgate University 1819 Northern Baptist
Connecticut College 1911 Methodist
Hamilton College 1812 Presbyterian
Haverford College 1833 Quaker (Orthodox)
Middlebury College 1800 Informally Congregationalist
Swarthmore College 1864 Quaker (Hicksite)
Trinity College 1823 Episcopal
Tufts University 1852 Universalist Church
Vassar College 1861
Wesleyan University 1831 Methodist
Williams College 1793 Congregationalist
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.

Related colleges

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,[1] and Greenes' Guides, illustrated in the chart above, ranks Vassar among the "little Ivies".

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 Williams Club
  • The Atlantic Monthly: "Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams"
  • Tamalpais Union High School District: "Amherst, Bowdoin, Hamilton, Haverford, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Williams."
  • Boston Globe, September 20, 1985, p. 36 refers to "The New England Small College Athletic Conference (alias NESCAC or the 'Little Ivies')".
  • "'Little Ivies' big lure for black scholars", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 29, 2006: mentions Amherst, Middlebury, Holy Cross, Bowdoin, Hampshire as "colleges [that] are sometimes known as 'little Ivies,' because they have the image of exclusivity typical of Ivy League schools."
  • The Observer of "Mentoring program links faculty and student athletes", Matt Cannan September 22, 2006).

See also

References

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