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The Ivy League is a group of eight old and well-regarded universities in the northeastern United States. Officially, the Ivy League is an athletic conference. Its members have a long history of participation in collegiate sports, and some of America's first sports rivalries were established at these eight schools. The Ivy League was officially established in 1954, although it had existed informally for decades prior.

However, the name has much broader connotations. The Ivy League is associated with academic excellence, with many people in fiction and real life dreaming of gaining admission to an Ivy League school, as it is seen as a sign that one is truly the best of the best. (Admissions are highly selective, with admission rates being less than twenty percent.)

On the flip side, the Ivy League is also associated with social elitism. It is often subjected to a unique form of Strawman U, one in which most of the students are snobbish, preppy, old-money WASPs who are already set for life, and are only going to college to acquire a veneer of respectability (for when they become executives and investment bankers) and to get into their fathers' "old boys" networks and secret societies. Any student who isn't a member of this elite gets spit on and bossed around by them, partly because of the aforementioned elitism, and partly because most of the people who are academically gifted enough to get into an Ivy League school (without resorting to Nepotism) are nerds who had already been encountering this for twelve years. Such a school will typically be the setting of a Slobs Versus Snobs plot. Essentially, it is the American equivalent of Oxbridge.

(Of course, this hasn't been true of the Ivy schools for decades, but it makes for good drama and comedy both.)

It's also worth noting that the mystique of the Ivy League holds less sway in parts of the country that aren't the northeast. While people on the East Coast dream of going to Princeton or Harvard, Californians often dream of getting into Stanford or University of California-Berkeley instead, while Southerners have their sights set on Vanderbilt or Duke. Even people in the relatively close Upper Midwest often aim for Northwestern or the University of Chicago instead.

The renown of the Ivy League is such that the name "Ivy" is also used to describe other colleges with strong academic reputations. "Little Ivies" may refer to the "Little Three" of Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams, or to a set of small and selective liberal arts colleges (mostly in the NESCAC sporting conference). "Public Ivies" are public universities that are said to provide an Ivy League-quality education at an affordable price, while "Southern Ivies" are exactly what they sound like -- in fact, there was talk in The Sixties of forming a "Magnolia Conference" of elite Southern universities that wanted to maintain big-ticket sports programs without cutting corners on academics, as they felt that their rivals were doing.

The eight Ivy League colleges, in the order they were founded:

  • Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts: established in 1636 (oldest American university). Motto: Veritas ("Truth")
  • Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut: established in 1701.Motto:האורים והתומים,Lux et veritas ("Light and truth").
  • University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: established in 1740. Motto:Leges sine moribus vanae ("Laws without morals are useless").
  • Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey: established in 1746. Motto:Dei sub numine viget ("Under God's power she flourishes").
  • Columbia University in New York City, New York: established in 1754. Motto:In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen ("In thy light shall we see the light").
  • Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island: established in 1764. Motto:In Deo Speramus ("In God we hope").
  • Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire: established in 1769. Motto: Vox clamantis in deserto ("The voice of one crying in the wilderness").
  • Cornell University in Ithaca, New York: established in 1865. Motto:I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.

Princeton, Harvard and Yale have traditionally been ranked as the top three schools in the United States for well over a century, although the precise ordering of the three varies from year to year. They are also considered among the top schools in the world, as well.

See also Ivy League for Everyone.

Ivy League in the Media:

Harvard

Yale

University of Pennsylvania

Princeton

  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
    • Will and Carton meet with an admissions counselor. Will impresses him by instantly solving a Rubik's Cube and is admitted.
    • Carlton's conflicts are resolved when he successfully transfers into Princeton in the series finale.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side Of Paradise, centers around a Princeton student (based on Fitzgerald himself), and spends a fair amount of time on the campus.
  • The setup of Across The Universe involves Jude traveling from Liverpool to find his father at Princeton -- where he meets and befriends Max.
  • The title character of Doogie Howser, M.D. graduated from Princeton at age 10.
  • In the episode "Flintstone of Princestone" of The Flintstones, Fred briefly attends "Princestone University".
  • President Charles Logan of 24 is a Princeton grad.
  • According to Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne went to Princeton but dropped out.
  • Although Charles in Charge took place in New Brunswick, NJ, home of Rutgers University, Charles ended up a graduate student at Princeton (which is 20 minutes away down Route 27).
  • Joel in Risky Business (Tom Cruise) is trying to get into Princeton over the course of the film.
  • From the first episode of The Cosby Show, daughter Sondra was attending Princeton; she eventually graduated. She also met her husband Elvin Tibideaux there.
  • The title character of Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper, Calvin Morrison, had been a theology student at Princeton, but dropped out to enlist in the Army during the Korean War.
  • Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen, in his pre-superpowered identity as John Osterman, attended Princeton for ten years, finally leaving with a Ph.D. in Physics in 1958.
  • The character "Princeton" from Avenue Q.

Columbia

Brown

  • Brian from Family Guy attended to Brown, but dropped out one class short of graduating. In the episode "Brian Goes Back to College", he returns to complete his education (unsuccessfully).
  • The much-loathed Microsoft Office Assistant "Clippy" has a biography that claims he has a degree in art-semiotics from Brown.
  • Elliot from Scrubs attended Brown.
  • Several characters from 24 attended Brown, including Audrey Raines and Bill Buchanan.

Dartmouth

Cornell

Mixed/Multiple

  • In The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft, George Gammell Angell is an emeritus professor at Brown.
    • Miskatonic University, frequently seen or mentioned in the Cthulhu Mythos, is modeled on Brown University.
    • Harvard's Widener Library houses a copy of the Necronomicon.
  • In Decades of Darkness, Word of God holds that the Alternate History Ivy League covers nine schools in New England[1] instead of eight in the US. Missing from the list are UPenn (Pennsylvania is part of the *US), Princeton (which didn't survive the North American War), and Cornell (which was founded half a century after the Point of Divergence, and so doesn't exist in the DoD 'verse).

Ivy League in Real Life:

Harvard

Yale

University of Pennsylvania

Princeton

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald attended Princeton.
  • As did Jimmy Stewart, Joshua Logan, Jose Ferrer, Wayne Rogers, Brooke Shields, David Duchovny, Jeff Bezos, Dean Cain, and First Lady Michelle Obama.
    • In fact, the last five were all at Princeton during the same four-year span between 1982 and 1985.
  • The Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777) was an important rebel victory in The American Revolution. Damage from cannon balls can still be seen in Nassau Hall (Princeton's administration building).
  • Princeton's Blair Hall and its famous arch appear at the beginning of the Saturday Night Live short film "Prose and Cons" ("Kill my lan'lord, kill my lan'lord") from the 1980-81 season.
  • Author/adventurer/lecturer Richard Halliburton was Princeton Class of 1922.
  • Bestselling author Jodi Picoult is Princeton '87.
  • Playwright and Nobel Laureate Eugene O'Neill, Princeton Class of 1910.
  • Musician/playwright Gene Lewin of the band Groovelily attended Princeton.
  • Presidents Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, and James Madison went to Princeton. Wilson was also the President of Princeton from 1902 to 1910.
  • Ralph Nader, Princeton 1955.
  • Queen Noor of Jordan, born Lisa Hallaby, Princeton 1974.
  • Former pro basketball player and former US Senator Bill Bradley is Princeton Class of 1965.
  • Syngman Rhee, first president of South Korea, Princeton 1910.

Columbia

  • Alexander Hamilton attended Columbia when it was still called King's College.
  • OSS founder William Joseph "Wild Bill" Donovan was a Columbia graduate.
  • Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World) went to Columbia.

Brown

  • The personal papers of H.P. Lovecraft are in the John Hay Library at Brown University.
  • S. J. Perelman attended Brown.
  • Composer/musician Wendy Carlos, Brown 1962.
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter, Brown 1981.
  • Actress Laura Linney is Brown 1986.
  • Actress Leelee Sobieski attended Brown but never graduated.

Dartmouth

Cornell

Mixed/Multiple

  • John F. Kennedy enrolled at Princeton, but was forced to leave due to illness; despite resuming and completing his education at Harvard, he is still regarded as a member of his original Princeton class by the University and alumni.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt attended both Harvard University and Columbia Law School.

Harvardiani et Yaliani delenda sunt.

Notes

  1. In the DoD 'verse, New England includes the Canadian Maritimes, New York State York, New Jersey, Michigan (minus the Upper Peninsula), and parts of northern Indiana and Ohio, in addition to the six states that make up the region in Real Life.
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