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Outside the Ivy League: Schools to Take Note Of

Boost your chances of getting accepted into a US college by taking the SAT in Singapore. Learn where to take the test and how to prepare for it.


May 28, 2024


The landscape of higher education is evolving at a rapid pace. While the Ivy League schools in the United States have long been celebrated for their academic excellence and prestige, it is important to recognise that there are many other institutions around the world that offer exceptional education and unique opportunities. 


For students, particularly those from Singapore, and their parents, understanding the breadth of these options can significantly impact their educational and career trajectories. This blog post aims to shed light on notable colleges and universities outside the Ivy League, emphasising the value and potential these institutions hold.


Notable Colleges and Universities Outside the Ivy League in the US

The term "Ivy League" often conjures images of elite, historic campuses with storied traditions. However, many other universities in the US provide comparable, if not superior, educational experiences tailored to diverse needs and ambitions. Let's explore some of these remarkable institutions.


Stanford University

Located in Palo Alto, California, Stanford is renowned for its focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and cutting-edge research. The university's close proximity to Silicon Valley offers unparalleled opportunities for students interested in technology and startup culture. 


Notable alumni include Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

While not an Ivy League school, MIT is one of the most prestigious institutions globally, especially for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The institute's rigorous academics, combined with its emphasis on hands-on learning and research, make it a top choice for aspiring engineers and scientists.


University of Chicago

Known for its strong emphasis on intellectual rigor and critical thinking, the University of Chicago offers a unique Core Curriculum that ensures students receive a well-rounded education. Notable alumni include economist Milton Friedman and former US President Barack Obama, who taught constitutional law at the university.


Harvey Mudd College

For those interested in a liberal arts education with a strong focus on STEM, Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, is an excellent choice. The college's mission is to educate scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who also have a firm grounding in the humanities and social sciences.



Emory University

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University is known for its strong programs in business, law, and medicine. The university's connection to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides unique research opportunities for students pursuing careers in public health and medicine.


Top European and Asian Universities for International Students

Studying abroad opens up a world of opportunities, offering a chance to experience different cultures and educational systems. Europe and Asia boast some of the world's most esteemed universities, many of which attract a significant number of international students, including those from Singapore.


University of Oxford and University of Cambridge

Often referred to as "Oxbridge," these two British universities are among the oldest and most prestigious in the world. Both universities offer a rich academic tradition, rigorous programs, and a vibrant international community.


University of Tokyo

As Japan's premier institution, the University of Tokyo is renowned for its research output and academic excellence across various fields, from engineering to the humanities. The university's international programs and partnerships make it an attractive option for students seeking a global education.


National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Closer to home, Singapore's own NUS and NTU are consistently ranked among the top universities globally. NUS offers a broad range of disciplines and a strong emphasis on research, while NTU is known for its engineering and technological innovations.


ETH Zurich

Switzerland's ETH Zurich is a leading university for science and technology. With a strong focus on research and Swiss efficiency, it offers a world-class education in a picturesque European setting.


University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

These institutions are among the best in Asia, offering comprehensive programs and a strategic location in one of the world's most dynamic cities. Both universities emphasize research, innovation, and internationalization.


Niche Programs and Specialised Institutions

Beyond traditional universities, there are specialized institutions that cater to specific interests or career paths. These schools can provide tailored education that aligns closely with students' passions and professional goals.


Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

For aspiring artists and designers, RISD offers one of the best art and design education experiences. Known for its rigorous studio practice and liberal arts education, RISD prepares students for creative careers in multiple industries.


Culinary Institute of America (CIA)

For those passionate about the culinary arts, the CIA provides comprehensive training in cooking, baking, and food business management. Graduates of CIA can be found in top restaurants and hospitality establishments worldwide.


California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

As a leading institution for the performing and visual arts, CalArts offers programs in areas such as animation, film, music, dance, and theater. The school's emphasis on artistic experimentation and interdisciplinary collaboration makes it a hub for creative innovation.


Have a portfolio? Thinking about going to art school? We have dedicated programme specialists for arts programmes! Send us a message to find out more about how we can help you curate a portfolio that best represents you. 


Babson College

Business-minded students who aspire to become entrepreneurs will find Babson College's focus on entrepreneurship education unmatched. The college offers experiential learning opportunities, including business incubators and startup competitions, to help students turn their ideas into successful ventures.


Financial Aid and Application Process

Many of these specialised institutions offer financial aid and scholarships to support students' educational pursuits. It is crucial for applicants to research and understand the application requirements, deadlines, and available financial aid options for each school. Early preparation and a thorough understanding of the process can significantly enhance the chances of acceptance and securing financial support.



The world of higher education is vast and varied, offering countless opportunities beyond the Ivy League. By considering a diverse range of institutions, students can find programs that align with their academic interests, career goals, and personal growth aspirations. Whether it's a renowned university in the US, a top-tier institution in Europe or Asia, or a specialized college catering to niche interests, the options are abundant and promising.


As you embark on your educational journey, remember to explore all available opportunities and make informed decisions about your future. Higher education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor; it's about finding the right fit for your unique goals and aspirations.


Interested in figuring out the best fit programme for you? Contact us for a 30-minute no-obligation consultation! 


Founded in 1999 to provide comprehensive standardised test preparation and admissions coaching for students embarking on their university education.


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