The Ivy Leagues based on small class sizes, interactive learning
Please rank the ivies on the quality of the academics, in this specific setting please consider: the size of class, interactive learning, case studies, Professor vs TA, teacher-student engagement, Professor accessibility etc... #college #professor #university #academic-advising #ivy-league #case-studies
Bridget, you're asking about the right things, but with due respect, I'm not sure in the right way. As others have alluded to, all of the Ivies have the resources to provide a very dynamic experience among and between students, faculty, and alumni.
You touch on two things that are very important in looking at college: teacher-student interactions, and what the industry increasingly calls "experiential education." As to the former, while scanning websites or taking tours, see how often and how substantively faculty include students in their research. In addition to Ivies, most liberal arts colleges emphasize experiences like these. On the latter point, see how integral field work is to an institution's curriculum. For instance, Drexel's program includes either one or three co-ops during your time on campus, and Connecticut and Earlham Colleges provide funding for internships and off-campus experiences.
You're right to be thoughtful and a little "picky" about where you go to college, but in the end, quality institutions provide quality educations, and it's on you to take full advantage of them!
Ranking the Ivies on quality of education is something several magazines and companies have done, like U.S. News, Forbes, and Princeton Review. College Confidential is an interesting place to go online to get some unofficial color. However, "the best" for an individual has to do with best fit, in my opinion, not on absolute rankings. Know yourself, then evaluate schools' programs with your interests, strengths, and goals in mind. Considerations beyond class size include research in your interest areas, what extracurricular opportunities are available, environmental fit, what is the attitude of students on campus when you visit toward their school, etc. While I agree that you can prepare yourself well at many colleges, there are a few things the Ivies do especially well, like meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need. They have very active alumni networks which can help in getting a job or internship. They are rigorous and offer great opportunities for hearing world renowned speakers. They are on the cutting edge of research in various disciplines. They can also be stressful environments for some. I encourage you to visit the campuses, research the majors and specialties at each, talk to current students and alumni at each, and consider your personality and priorities rather than just a magazine ranking before deciding which may be the best fit for you. This applies whether you are looking at an Ivy or any college.
It might be helpful to look at this from a different perspective, as you're already trying to narrow down a list that has already been extensively filtered. There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US, and only 9 of them are Ivy League schools. They are notoriously difficult to get into--most accept less than 10% of those who apply. This is akin to asking which $100 bill to keep based on its serial number--if you consider an Ivy as the be-all-end-all for a college, apply to all of them and worry about which might be better if you happen to have the good fortune to get accepted to more than one.
Instead, do your initial sort based on what you want out of a college, including what you want to study; whether you want to live in an urban, suburban or rural environment; teacher to student ratio; rates of graduation; whether or not there are fraternities/sororities; admission rate and so on. Then build a list of schools to apply to in order of likelihood of acceptance: at least one "safety" school that you would attend if you can't get in anywhere else, your ideal schools based on which ones best match your criteria, and one or more "stretch" schools that you would attend if you beat the admission odds.
And good luck!
Nancy Hamp gave you some great advice. I want to reinforce the importance of finding the right fit for you. So once you've studied the rankings of the Ivy Leagues, look at the size of the student body, and the type of student it most likely attracts. For example, Brown has an open curriculum -- basically you design your major. It tends to attract creative student or those with unique talents or interests.
Visit the campus if you are able, read as much as you can about each school, and try to picture yourself there. Ask around and try to talk to anyone that is currently attending to get a better sense of the school.
These schools are expensive, so if you need financial aid, look at what each has to offer. The good news about the Ivy schools is that they have big endowments so are often able to provide better packages than smaller prestigious colleges with smaller endowments. When it comes to need blind admissions, the Ivies are most able to keep that promise.
These schools are highly selective. If you are lucky enough to get in, take advantage of all each has to offer. You will have a network that will last a lifetime -- and each can provide a rich learning environment while your there. They can be intimidating -- but don't let that shake you. Anyone who has attended knows these are challenging. At first you may feel as though you may have been admitted by accident -- but that is normal. Once you get your bearings -- you will be all set.
And have a plan B for in case you do not get in to an Ivy. Look at schools that are a tier or two down but that have what you are looking for. There are plenty of great schools. Be selective in planning alternatives and apply to a number of them so that you end up with some viable choices -- any one of which that will work for you.
Best of luck.