New recipes

Great Ivy League Eats

Great Ivy League Eats

Skip the dining hall for delicious alternatives to typical collegiate fare

The Ivy League may have been founded as an athletic conference for eight prestigious Northeast schools, but it is more commonly associated with selective admissions, cutthroat academics, and top-notch education. And while Ivy League institutions may be best known for their smarts and their savvy, they also boast excellent eateries in their surrounding college towns.

While food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re driving to visit your dream school in Rhode Island, stopping at bland roadside diners starts your prospective college career off on the wrong foot. Likewise, spending the summer hitting the books may leave less than ample time to book dinner reservations or research new restaurants for a change of pace. So we’ve constructed a list that should help you get through a university tour with your parents and a summer spent in the library.

If you think you’re stuck with a summer scarfing down pub food in Boston, think again. Drop by The Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro for Wine and Dine Mondays or Sunday brunch. Or if you’re craving authentic Italian pies in Harvard Square, Otto is your place for pizza done right.

In Philadelphia, treat yourself to the Burger of the Month at Bobby’s Burger Palace or, take Lolita up on their promise of authentic bocadios and enchiladas verdes. Their BYOT policy — bring your own tequila — is sure to keep things interesting for UPenn coeds. If Columbia’s Morningside Heights is your summer locale, reserve a table at Marcus Samuelsson’s new outpost, Red Rooster, to sample his mouth-watering comfort foods or find other students ordering scandalously cheap and tasty falafel near campus.

To maintain your competitive edge, get out your laptop and start taking notes — because we’re schooling you on the most delicious restaurants across the Ivy League.

Click here to see the Great Ivy League Eats Slideshow.


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%


The Alt-Ivies: 15 Top U.S. Colleges With Blue-Chip Reputations

With skyrocketing application rates, these schools&mdashonce safeties&mdashare now at the top of valedictorians' lists.

Because Swarthmore is part of the Quaker Consortium, students can cross-register at Penn, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford. So even though undergraduate enrollment is around 1,600, there are more than 600 courses to choose from, including an engineering program that grants a B.S. degree after four years&mdasha rarity for a liberal arts college. Another unusual aspect is the honors program, which lets students design their own courses of study, work in very small seminars, and fulfill requirements by taking exams conducted by outside experts.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.7%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located 40 miles outside the Twin Cities, this small liberal arts school owns more than 1,000 acres of land, including the sprawling Cowling Arboretum, a haven of ora, fauna, and miles of trails. Classes in subjects from biology to art are taught there. As for student life, diversity and acceptance are greatly valued there are more than 250 clubs, including a variety of LGBT-oriented groups. And because of the rates at which its female grads go on to get PhDs in the sciences, Carleton has become known as a &ldquohot-house for female scientists.&rdquo

2008 Acceptance Rate: 27.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 19.4%

This is the rare school that is renowned for both its technical offerings and its arts programs. The School of Computer Science, which is housed in a building funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the best in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also where the world&rsquos first WiFi network and the first artificial intelligence programs were created. Meanwhile, the School of Drama has produced such A-listers as Ted Danson, Judith Light, Sutton Foster, and Leslie Odom Jr.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 37.9%
2017 Acceptance Rate: 22%

For more than two decades U.S. News has ranked Babson the number one undergraduate school for entrepreneurship. All first-year students take &ldquoFoundations of Management and Entrepreneurship,&rdquo in which they are given startup money to create, launch, and manage their own companies. A B.S. in business administration is the only degree granted, but students can choose from 27 concentrations on which to focus their study. Plus, traditional liberal arts courses are incorporated into the curriculum, for a well-rounded education.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 35%
2017 Acceptance Rate:24%

With nine different schools for undergrads, three campuses (Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar), and additional facilities in Miami, San Francisco, NYC, and Washington, DC, students have access to a multitude of courses, programs, and majors. Despite its large size and many resources, Northwestern maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and offers more than 150 specialized research facilities, like the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, and the Institute for Policy Research. Also, beware the Meghan Markle effect. The newly minted Duchess of Sussex got her degree here in 2003.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26.2%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8.4%

What used to be a last resort for students who were underqualified for the Ivies is now just as competitive and at the top of many a college wish list. In 2018, applications exceeded 30,000 but only 2,199 got in. That&rsquos an acceptance rate lower than Penn&rsquos or Cornell&rsquos. Its location in the heart of Music City is part of the appeal, but so are the academics and campus life. Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful, and they&rsquore integrated into every field of study, and the university is currently pending more than $600 million to convert its dorms into LEED-certified residential colleges. According to the Princeton Review, Vanderbilt also has the happiest students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 25%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 7.3%

Like Harvard, Duke saw an 8 percent increase in applications this year. Although most famous for its Division 1 sports teams (the men&rsquos basketball squad has won the NCAA title five times), the school also has offerings in creative writing, visual art, theater, film, and dance. Then there is the Nasher Museum of Art, designed by Rafael Viñoly, which has a collection of 13,000 items, including works by Kara Walker, Ai Weiwei, and Andy Warhol. For public service&ndashminded students, DukeEngage hosts immersion service programs around the world, from teaching ecotourism in Brazil to advocating for female entrepreneurship in Kenya.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 22.4%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Leadership is at the core of the educational experience at this liberal arts college, which has produced VIPs like former AOL CEO Steve Case, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Since 1997, leadership studies has even been offered as its own concentration, blending political science, anthropology, and history. On the current syllabus are such courses as &ldquoDangerous Leadership in American Politics&rdquo and &ldquoThe Black Radical Tradition.&rdquo Williams goes by a 4-1-4 schedule, meaning all students participate in monthlong winter programs that can be used for research, internships, or studying abroad.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 16.9%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 12%

Philanthropy and community service are deeply embedded in the culture at this small liberal arts school, which partners with hundreds of organizations locally and internationally to provide opportunities for students to give back. They might include mentoring kids, spending winter break volunteering at a rehab center for veterans in Hanoi, or doing work-study as a tutor in local schools. Public engagement themes are also incorporated into the curriculum&mdashfor example, a recent course on citizenship and religion in America took place at the Maine Correctional Center and was made up of both inmates and Bowdoin students.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 18.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 10.3%

Davidson has all the hallmarks of a liberal arts college (picturesque campus, core curriculum), along with offerings you find at larger schools, like Division 1 sports. Basketball is a big part of the culture here&mdashNBA superstar Steph Curry played for the Wildcats before he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors after his junior year. In both academics and campus life, students are bound by a strict honor code. Exams are self-scheduled and unproctored, or take-home doors to college buildings remain unlocked and announcements are posted around the school to help people find lost belongings.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 26%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 20%

Athletics are such a major part of campus life that 70 percent of the students participate in some capacity. Along with Rice&rsquos 14 NCAA Division 1 teams, there are a state-of-the-art recreation center and a wide variety of club and intramural sports, from jujitsu to water polo. Rice also features a residential college system, which is very popular with students for its community- building benefits and is one of the reasons the Princeton Review ranked the university number one in quality of life. Another reason could be its fantastic location in the heart of Houston&rsquos Museum District.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 23%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 11%

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges (which comprise five undergrad and two graduate institutions) received a record-breaking 10,245 applications this year. Only 713 kids were admitted. The best part is that students can take classes at any school in the consortium, which includes Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna. That means access to more than 2,000 courses and a combined 2 million&ndashvolume library. Pomona also has 61 study abroad programs, with options on every continent except Antarctica, and is a top producer of Fulbright scholars.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 15.5%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 6.9%

Along with its Nobel and Pulitzer Prize&ndashwinning alumni, Fulbright scholars, and entrepreneurs like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google boss Eric Schmidt, the nation&rsquos top public school is also the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Community service plays a big role on campus, with 270 organizations to help students do good. Traditions like the big rally before the Stanford game also foster a sense of community at this big school, which received 89,000 applications this year.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 21.6%
2017* Acceptance Rate: 18.3%

Caltech is the aspiring scientist&rsquos dream, with facilities like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center that the school manages for NASA, and several large-scale facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. Competition to get in is fierce&mdash98 percent of undergraduates were in the top tenth of their high school class&mdashbut there is very little competition once they&rsquore actually on campus. Students are encouraged to collaborate on homework, and take-home tests are administered on an honor code. It&rsquos not all work and no play, though: Caltech is notorious for its pranks.

2008 Acceptance Rate: 17%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 8%

Home to one of the best medical schools in the country, it offers interested students access to a variety of pre-med tracks and research opportunities. For those who don&rsquot want to become doctors, there are more than 80 other majors to choose from, plus the option to design an individualized study program. In terms of student life, the Midwestern school puts a heavy emphasis on community and leadership. More than half the undergraduate population participates in public service projects, while leadership skills are taught through the LeaderShape Institute, an intensive interactive six-day retreat.

2011 Acceptance Rate: 21%
2018 Acceptance Rate: 15%