What is a “Public Ivy?”

A “Public Ivy” is a public, state-funded higher learning institution offering rigorous academics that compare with the prestigious Ivy League.

In 1985, admissions counselor Richard Moll first coined the term in his book “Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities.” He began by highlighting eight public schools that offered an education similar to Ivy League bigwigs like Harvard and Dartmouth without the steep tuition cost.

Public Ivies are still recognized as being among the best of the best over 30 years later. They’re all ranked in the nation’s top-tier by the U.S. News and World Report.

If you’re beginning the college application process, the following is everything you should know about Public Ivies.

The Original Eight Public Ivies

Richard Moll identified these eight public institutions for having the academic excellence of the Ivy League. The College of William & Mary, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, has educated U.S. presidents like Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe since opening in 1693. Miami University is home to more than 23,900 students in Oxford, Ohio. With 10 campuses, the University of California is an innovative AAU member earning over 2,400 patents. The University of Michigan- Ann Arbor is a space-grant, STEM institution educating more than 43,500.

Featuring over 240 degrees, the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill is located in the prestigious Research Triangle. In America’s 11th most populous city, the University of Texas at Austin is endowed for $3.27 billion with alumni like Michael Dell, Laura Bush, and Roger Clemens. The University of Vermont is nestled in Burlington with LEED Gold certification to enroll over 11,800 students. Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia has “very high research activity” in Charlottesville and over 120 majors.

Perks of Attending Public Ivies

Public Ivies are top-notch schools that offer a high-quality education and unparalleled learning resources at a lower price tag. In-state students can significantly benefit from tuition discounts that cut Ivy League in half or more. Education at Public Ivies is usually rooted in the liberal arts and sciences with research experience. Public Ivies attract some of the brightest students and accomplished faculty members. The Public Ivies have larger campuses with more diverse students, bigger course catalogs, and more campus clubs. Unlike the Ivy League, athletes at Public Ivies can also receive intercollegiate NCAA Division I scholarships for financial aid.

Getting Accepted into a Public Ivy

Admissions at Public Ivies is highly selective. For instance, the University of California- Berkeley accepts just 16.9 percent of applicants. Standing out from the crowd is essential to impressing the admissions committee. The difficulty of your high school curriculum is a top factor. Take challenging AP, IB, or Honors courses in subjects that interest you. Having a B+ in AP Calculus is more impressive than an A+ in remedial math. Prove your experience with extra-curricular activities and community service. Highlight what makes you unique with a great admissions essay.

In 2001, Howard and Matthew Greene expanded the list to 30 with their book “The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities.” Schools added include Pennsylvania State University, the University of Colorado- Boulder, and Indiana University. Picking any of these Public Ivies will afford you an outstanding education in an eclectic atmosphere. Consider applying to a Public Ivy in your state for the greatest bang for your buck.