Most students who are interested in attending a top college in the United States are well aware of the reputation of the Ivy League. The eight schools that make up the Ivy League athletic conference are considered among the very best academic institutions in the country. However, while rankings change from year to year, the two schools that consistently take the top two spots for the best colleges in the U.S. are Princeton and Harvard.

What Is the Ivy League?

The Ivy League is the colloquial name given to the eight schools that make up the Ivy League athletic conference. They are:

  • Harvard University
  • Yale University
  • Princeton University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Pennsylvania

Related Articles

While all eight of the schools are highly competitive and considered to be among the best schools in the country, there are a few schools within the Ivy League that are seen as being even more academically rigorous and more prestigious than the others. Among them are Harvard, Princeton and Yale, which are regularly ranked as the top three colleges in the U.S.

While the Ivy League does create rivalries, such as Princeton vs. Harvard and Harvard vs. Yale, the Ivy League is not the only collection of schools that has tremendous global prestige. Outside of the Ivy League, schools like MIT, Stanford, Northwestern, Williams, CalTech and UC Berkeley have excellent reputations and are believed to be as competitive if not more so than the schools in the Ivy League.

What Are the Benefits of a Princeton University Education?

While plenty of schools have an excellent reputation, there is no denying that of the schools in the Ivy League and Princeton in particular. As of 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked Princeton University as the number one college in America for the eighth straight year. The university is well known for having illustrious professors such as Albert Einstein, Toni Morrison and mathematician John Nash.

In addition to an incredible roster of professors and a storied list of alumni, Princeton has demonstrated rigorous and compelling academic instruction in disciplines from science to fine arts to architecture to engineering. The accomplishments of its students in academics, athletics and fine arts as well as its beautiful campus and impressive faculty list are some of the reasons that students vie to get accepted year after year.

Princeton is one of the oldest universities in the U.S. and has a number of traditions that continue to this day. In lieu of fraternities and sororities and a Greek system, Princeton has Eating Clubs, where students take meals at different houses. The school's social calendar is packed with lectures, arts programs, athletic endeavors and entertainment.

What Are the Benefits of a Harvard University Education?

Despite Princeton's growing reputation as the best college in the U.S., Harvard University still has a reputation as the most prestigious school to attend. Harvard University was the first university to be founded in America. Eight U.S. presidents have graduated from the school along with tech billionaires and visionaries like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Harvard rejects more than 90 percent of all applicants, which means that graduating with a diploma from Harvard tells people that you are among the best of the best in terms of your academic work. When it comes to the Princeton vs. Harvard rivalry, some say that Harvard wins out because regardless of the experience on the campus, the reputation of the school is what most people truly consider.

Harvard is one of the most expensive schools in the country. The campus, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 20 minutes from of Boston, is home to the Fogg Art Museum and an astonishing collection of libraries. Harvard's athletic teams are similarly revered, and the Harvard vs. Yale rivalry is one of the oldest in the nation.

About the Author

Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites. She has written for Pearson Education, The University of Miami, The New York City Teaching Fellows, New Visions for Public Schools, and a number of independent secondary schools. She lives in Los Angeles.