This project was established to provide a portal to the institutions of higher education that, as a group, are referred to as the Little Ivies.
Little Ivies is a colloquialism referring to a group of small, selective American liberal arts colleges; however, it does not denote any official organization.
Institutions identified as Little Ivies are usually old, small, exclusive, and academically competitive liberal arts colleges located in the northeastern United States. The colloquialism is meant to imply that Little Ivies share similarities of distinction with the universities of the Ivy League.
It is sometimes synonymous with the "Little Three," Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams. (The term "Little Three" is well-defined as a former athletic league and has often been used to identify these schools as a socially and academically elite trio; the term has also been used to compare the three institutions with the so-called Big Three of the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.) Encarta defines "Little Ivies" to refer to these three schools, which it characterizes as "small" and "exclusive" and as having "high academic standards and long traditions."
It can refer to the schools of the modern-day New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which includes the "Little Three" together with Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, and Tufts.
Greene and Greene's guide, Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence refers specifically--in its introduction--to "the group historically known as the 'Little Ivies' (including Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, and Williams)" which it says have "scaled the heights of prestige and selectivity and also turn away thousands of our best and brightest young men and women."
Some schools that are often called "Little Ivies" include: