Traditionally, the Ivy League has referred to a selective group of institutions of higher education located in the northeastern United States. These schools are associated with high academic standards and selective admissions criteria. Over the years, a number of other institutions have been associated with selective admissions status by being referred to as "Ivies" or Ivy-like schools. In addition, some schools have pursued the elite status of the Ivy League by referring to themselves as "The Ivy of ..." whatever region they were located.

Origin of the Ivy League

The term "Ivy League" was coined in the early 1930s by Stanley Woodward, a sports writer for the New York Herald Tribune. In 1936, the undergraduate newspapers of each of the schools that would form the Ivy League simultaneously ran an editorial advocating the formation of an ``Ivy League.'' However, nothing further was done until 1945 , when the presidents of the Ivy League universities entered into an agreement which regulated much of the organization of each school's collegiate football program, along with the lengthy of the playing season and related matters. The formal institution of the intercollegiate Ivy League took place in 1953, when the schools agreed to schedule most of their football games against other schools in the league.

The Schools of the Ivy League

The eight schools included in the ivy league include: Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut; Princeton University, located in Princeton, New Jersey; the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia; Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York; Brown University, located in Providence, Rhode Island; Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire and Columbia University, located in New York City. The Ivy League has traditionally been associated with elitism, in addition to academic excellence.

The Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters are selective women's colleges that have often been associated with the Ivy League, especially at a time when women were either prohibited or severely restricted from attending men's or coeducational institutions of higher education. The schools often had formal affiliations with men's colleges, as well as informal social associations. The schools included in the Seven Sisters are Mount Holyhoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts; Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York; Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts; Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts; Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; and Barnard College in Manhattan (New York City).

Hidden Ivies and Public Ivies

Many selective schools, especially those located outside the northeastern United States, have been associated with the elite status and selective admissions status of the Ivy League by being referred to as "Hidden Ivies" and "Public Ivies." So-called "Hidden Ivies" are most often small liberal arts colleges such as Haverford College or Wake Forest University which have a widely held reputation for providing an education on a par with that available within the Ivy League. A similar status is given to state schools with an excellent academic reputation, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or the University of California.

Prominent Figures and the Ivy League

The Ivy League has produced a number of prominent figures in American politics. Most recently, former president Bill Clinton was a graduate of Yale University, as was his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former president George W. Bush and former presidential candidate John Kerry. President Barack Obama attended both Columbia University and Harvard Law School. John F. Kennedy, Jr. attended Brown University.