The Alt-Ivies of 2022 — 15 Top US Colleges on the Rise – Town & Country


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Think your list of safety schools is foolproof? Think again. T&C introduces the 15 Alt-Ivies of 2022—and there are a few surprises.
Not very long ago, Tulane was named the “#1 party school in America” by an education ranking site. Today, the New Orleans university is one of the hardest places to get into—and it’s not the only institution with an erstwhile reputation for fun that now requires far more than an affinity for Greek life and a healthy appetite for beer to gain entry.
As T&C reported earlier this year, the college admissions process in 2022 was something of a horror show. Traditional hacks for earning a coveted slot at one of the nation’s prestigious institutions of higher learning have gone out the door. Recommendation letters from a famous person? Useless. Hoping for better odds with early decision? Not a chance. After Harvard released its admissions data for the year, revealing it had accepted a mere 3.2 percent of its applicants, a record low, parents and rising seniors everywhere began re-ordering their college wishlists.
Back in 2018, we published a list of 15 Alt-Ivies, colleges that had previously been classified as safety schools but that had slowly risen to become nearly as selective and sought after as Harvard, Yale, Brown, et al. Given the state of admissions today, we decided to create a new list to spotlight 15 additional schools that are experiencing dramatic increases in popularity. Once again we consulted with the college counseling service IvyWise, which examined changes in competitive acceptance rates, notable increases in applications, and other unique factors that are enticing prospective students.

Some of the results were expected—so-called Public Ivies, like the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia, made it, as did “Little Ivies,” like Colgate. But some schools that made the list were a surprise. Take Northeastern: In just five years, the acceptance rate for that Boston university plummeted into the single digits.
Below, a list of 15 Alt-Ivies of 2022, along with the IvyWise team’s rundown of why these are no longer just a safe bet.
“Seemingly out of nowhere, Northeastern has shot onto the stage, with its acceptance rate plummeting into the single digits this past year. A phenomenal blend of an urban setting with a campus feel, the university’s signature 100-year-old cooperative education (Co-op) program is as popular as ever, with students excited to get their hands in experiential learning. Northeastern has also made some splashes in the world of global education, offering one of the biggest freshman year study abroad opportunities through its Program. Despite the large undergraduate student population, traditions abound, from packing the arena for Northeastern hockey games, to the annual Underwear Run, to the Husky Hunt, a 24-hour city-wide scavenger hunt.”
2022 acceptance rate: 6.79%
2017 acceptance rate: 27.44%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 67.85%
“As the drive towards technological fields related to computer science and the world of AI and Machine Learning skyrockets, students are setting their sights on Georgia Tech. Despite being one of few universities that returned to requiring tests in the 2021-2022 cycle, that didn’t keep the droves from applying. Incredibly selective for out-of-state students and becoming even more so for in-state students, Georgia Tech is the southern hub of innovation and a preeminent research institution, full of devoted scholars, who also love to cheer on their four-time national championship football team. You won’t find cutthroat competition here, but rather an immensely collaborative environment of students who love everything about science, technology, and engineering.”
2022 acceptance rate: 17.00%
2017 acceptance rate: 23.40%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 60.65%
“The oldest of the Texas state institutions, UT Austin is a highly desired large public research institution for both in- and out-of-state students. With the top 6% of Texas high school graduates automatically admitted, UT Austin has become a reach, especially for students applying from out-of-state. A highly desired institution of higher education for future engineers, UT Austin is also a top destination for aspiring doctors, scientists, lawyers, and business professionals. It’s impossible to escape the Longhorn spirit, whether it’s the 100,000 voices unifying to sing “Eye of Texas” or “Texas Fight” while taking on rivals Texas A&M, or looking up the Tower as a symbol of the community’s mood.”
2021 acceptance rate: 28.75%*
2017 acceptance rate: 36.49%
Increase in applications (2017-2021): 29.41%
(*2022 data not yet available)
“Known historically as ‘Mr. Jefferson’s University,’ UVA is a community steeped in both tradition and advancement. Students step on to Grounds (instead of campus) and navigate Jefferson’s original Academical Village and secret societies before graduating as a 4th year (since one should never be in their senior year in the pursuit of knowledge). Traditions such as Student Self Governance/Honor Council, volunteering around Charlottesville, or camping out in ‘Hooville’ before a major athletic game bring a variety of student voices and experiences together. Katie Couric, Tiki Barber, Tina Fey, Dawn Staley, Robert Mueller, and Steve Huffman are amongst the notable alumni cheering “Wahoowa” for the Cavaliers.”
2022 acceptance rate: 18.68%
2017 acceptance rate: 27.35%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 38.56%
“Applications to Howard University have increased almost 75% in the last five years as the university affirmed its position as the “Harvard of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” It offers the largest amount of academic offerings amongst HBCUs with top majors being Biology, Political Science, and Public Relations/Communications. Renowned actress and artist Phylicia Rashad serves as Dean of the College of Fine Arts (recently renamed after the late notable alumnus Chadwick Boseman), solidifying Howard as a top university for the Sciences, Humanities, and Arts.”
2021 acceptance rate: 35.26%*
2017 acceptance rate: 41.42%
Increase in applications (2017-2021): 74.79%
(*2022 data not yet available)
“Originally founded as a Medical University in 1834, then briefly known as the University of Louisiana before becoming the Tulane we all know today in 1884. Boasting its very own Blarney Stone and renowned Tiffany’s Windows, Tulane is a gorgeous campus set in the vibrant bustling city of New Orleans. With the motto ‘not for one’s self, but for one’s own,’ Tulane was the first research institution to incorporate public service as part of its core curriculum and is a leader in service learning education.”
2022 acceptance rate: 8.50%
2017 acceptance rate: 21.50%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 17.91%

“The University of Miami’s mascot, the Ibis, is known to be the first to return after a hurricane signaling to others that clear skies are ahead. Similarly, this university has led the way in creating innovative majors for those seeking to solve critical problems, including 13 majors in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science alone. With strategic partnerships throughout Miami, Finance within the Herbert Business School continues to be a popular major for students. Students love the medium-sized community, tucked into the quiet streets of Coral Gables, but boasting enough school spirit to fill Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium as they cheer on their successful ’Canes football team.”
2021 acceptance rate: 28.49%*
2017 acceptance rate: 37.71%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 50.65%
(*2022 data not yet available)

“Situated on a gorgeous campus tucked away in the rolling hills of upstate New York, this community considers 13 its lucky number. Founded by 13 men, 13 dollars, and 13 prayers, the university recently launched a billion-dollar campaign started by 13 women to continue to transform the community for the next century and make a Colgate education accessible to students regardless of their socioeconomic background. The Colgate experience leaves nothing to chance, offering 56 timely majors ranging from Astrogeophysics to Peace and Conflict Studies in addition to a slew of minors (including a new Global Public and Environmental Health minor) while embracing the interdisciplinary approach to a liberal arts education. Known for its tight-knit community and fiercely loyal alumni, Colgate students are encouraged to make connections outside of the classroom, whether it is partnering with the local Oneida Nation, participating in on-campus organizations, or traveling. Colgate is consistently named a top school for study abroad participation, with Colgate-led programs located in countries including Jamaica, New Zealand, Singapore, and Switzerland, as well as offerings in New York City and Washington, D.C.”
2021 acceptance rate: 17.19%*
2017 acceptance rate: 28.14%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 148.89%

(*2022 data not yet available)
“Widely known as the premier women’s college in the country, if not the world, Wellesley is one of the founding members of the Seven Sisters Colleges, an unofficial grouping of elite women’s colleges, meant at one point to be the female alternative for the Ivy League. Full of driven, high-achieving, and tenacious scholars, Wellesley empowers generations of young women and launched the careers of notable politicians Madeleine Albright and Hillary Rodham Clinton, social and environmental activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, filmmaker Nora Ephron, and journalists Cokie Roberts and Diane Sawyer.”
2022 acceptance rate: 13.00%
2017 acceptance rate: 28.59%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 79.23%

“A favorite Early Action option for nearly every student applying in advance to one of the Single-Choice or Restricted Early Action Ivies, University of Michigan is the ultimate school for campus spirit, set in the quintessential college town of Ann Arbor, where Saturdays in the fall are filled with students and alumni cheering on the Wolverines football team. Despite the large size of the university, which offers more than 200 undergrad majors, all students find close-knit communities within the broader student population. Crucial as well to a successful undergraduate experience is embracing ‘Michigan Time,’ where every class begins 10 minutes late. Approximately 350 students enroll each year in Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Honors Program, which provides challenging courses, hands-on research, experiential learning opportunities, and a vibrant community for the academically ambitious.”
2021 acceptance rate: 20.15%*
2017 acceptance rate: 26.50%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 40.27%

(*2022 data not yet available)
“The ‘University Without Walls,’ embedded within the city of New York, offers campuses in 14 other major cities, including Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Notable for skyrocketing to more than 100,000 applications the past two years, NYU is one of the top destinations in the US for international students. Through Tisch, students can experience the nation’s top program in professional training and scholarship in performing, cinematic, and emerging media arts. Most sought after in recent years are the Tandon School of Engineering and Stern School of Business, where students seek the educational foundation to have a positive impact on the ever-changing global society.”
2022 acceptance rate: 12.20%
2017 acceptance rate: 27.66%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 64.04%

“A college and conservatory in one, Oberlin has long been the first to champion critical work to push for societal progress, known since its founding as a home for progressively minded scholars. Just 40 minutes outside Cleveland, it’s home to slightly less than 3000 quirky, socially aware, and intellectually curious students. It’s known for providing opportunities for learning and doing, bridging the gap between imagination and action to make ideas a reality. Notable for the fact that many Oberlin graduates go on to earn PhDs after graduation, students here find an immensely supportive environment that empowers them to flourish as individuals.”
2022 acceptance rate: 9.23%
2017 acceptance rate: 33.72%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 33.21%

“No longer a sometimes-forgotten sibling of the most well-known UCs—UCLA and UC Berkeley—Irvine is now front and center amongst the most sought after of public state schools. Full of academically focused students, UCI’s majors of Biology, Computer Science, and Economics are among its most popular. UCI opened in the 1960s along with UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz to meet growing demand for higher education stemming from the success of the GI Bill and the post-war Baby Boom. The campus was originally modeled after Central Park.”
2021 acceptance rate: 28.96%*
2017 acceptance rate: 36.50%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 66.86%

(*2022 data not yet available)
“A Catholic, Jesuit institution situated just outside Boston, student formation is at the heart of the BC experience. Dedicated to growth across academic, intellectual, personal, spiritual, and social dimensions, BC pushes students to use their education to tackle pressing societal challenges. Whether through the Lynch School for Education and Human Development, the Connell School of Nursing, the Carroll School of Management, or the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, grads go on to become leaders in healthcare, education, politics, and business, lifted up by the incredibly strong alumni network. School spirit runs high, too, whether they are packing the football stadium in gold ‘Superfan Shirts’ or competing in mud volleyball during the pre-finals Mudstock tournament each year.”
2022 acceptance rate: 16%
2017 acceptance rate: 32%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 42.03%

“Quickly becoming a hot school for aspiring business professionals and doctors, Emory has catapulted to the top of many students’ lists and is no longer just another target school for Ivy League hopefuls. The medium-sized university in Atlanta offers students access to the larger research university campus of Emory University, as well as the smaller liberal arts college experience of Oxford College. Boasting a medical school with an acceptance rate below 5 percent and home to the largest healthcare system in Georgia, Emory is an amazing option for future healthcare professionals.”
2022 acceptance rate: 15.82%
2017 acceptance rate: 21.80%
Increase in applications (2017-2022): 38.99%


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