What makes an Ivy?

By on November 14, 2006

Cornell, Harvard, Yale, Penn…Is it possible that Quinnipiac University could be joining the elite Ivy League? Don’t get your hopes up.

The Ivy League was established in the 1950s to create an athletic league comprised of colleges that shared a common goal: to better their athletic teams, while keeping the primary focus on academics. Today, the Ivy League is still known for its competitive athletic programs, but the term is often used in a broader sense to refer to the eight elite schools that make up the league: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.

An important aspect in understanding why Quinnipiac will not be joining the Ivy League anytime soon is the fact that the schools that are part of it were all in the league from the very beginning. The schools that created the league over 50 years ago are the same schools that compete in it today. And they are not looking for any new additions.

“It’s not a group that colleges apply to join. Colleges don’t suddenly become Ivy League schools,” explained Joan Isaac Mohr, vice president and dean of admissions at Quinnipiac.

But say that the Ivy League was looking for a couple of new prospects? Would Quinnipiac have any hope of making it over the hundreds of other schools in the country that might be interested in joining?

As it turns out, Quinnipiac’s chances might not be too bad. For starters, all of the Ivy League schools are in the Northeast, as is Quinnipiac.

Also, the number of undergraduate students currently enrolled at Quinnipiac is near that of the norm for Ivy League schools. Quinnipiac has about 5,500 undergraduate students, which is slightly less than Princeton, Yale and Brown, all of which rank somewhere between 4,500 and 6,000.

The biggest factor yet is the success of QU’s Division I athletic program. Who can forget last November when the men’s ice hockey team beat Harvard in front of more than 5,000 screaming fans? And they weren’t the only team to come out victorious after going head to head with big-name Ivy League schools. In fact, last year alone over half of Quinnipiac’s 17 varsity teams beat Ivy League schools on at least one occasion.

So Quinnipiac can compete on the athletic fields, but what about in the classroom?

When it comes down to cold, hard statistics, Quinnipiac may not yet be able to compete on an academic level with the Ivy League schools. Out of all the Quinnipiac applicants for this year’s freshman class, 58 percent were accepted. This compares poorly with the Ivy League schools that all accepted fewer than 20 percent of their applicants, excluding Cornell which accepted 24.7 percent. Also, 20 percent of QU’s incoming freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, while over 85 percent of the Ivy League freshmen classes were in the top 10 percent.

However, Quinnipiac is becoming academically stronger every year. Mohr explained that the university is working hard to help students excel in their studies.

“Each of the individual schools have identified programs of excellence and we will seek ways to achieve national prominence in these majors,” Mohr said.

It is important to remember that Quinnipiac University is still young and growing. While QU wasn’t founded until 1929, the Ivy League schools, with the exception of Cornell, were founded before the 1800s. They have had time to perfect their academic programs, while Quinnipiac continues to make changes every year in order to reach academic levels equal to the Ivy League schools.


About Carolyn Schmolz