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The Ivy League is a name for eight schools in the northeastern United States. All but one were established hundreds of years ago, when England had colonies in the area. The oldest schools are Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania. The newest is Cornell, which was founded in eighteen sixty-five.

The term Ivy League can also be used to describe a sports grouping of the eight schools. The schools are also called the Ivies.

Many language experts believe that the term first appeared in the media. In the nineteen-thirties, a sports reporter called the schools in the grouping, the “Ivy League.” The group also had an unofficial name -- “The Ancient Eight.” Now both names are used. However, the National Collegiate Athletic Association officially uses the term Ivy League.

Why the reporter used the term is not completely clear. Some people say the term is linked to the ivy plant. And ivy does cover some of the grounds and buildings at the schools. Other people say the term dates back to when only four of the schools were part of the sports group. The number four was written in roman numerals, the letters “I” and “V.” However, most historians say that explanation is incorrect.

The term Ivy League is sometimes said in a disapproving way. Some people think the eight schools and their students value themselves too highly. Admission to the schools is very competitive. As little as seven percent of students who seek admission are accepted.

The educational offerings of Ivy League schools are considered among the best and most demanding in the world. All eight schools are also private and extremely costly. A four year degree from Harvard, for example, can cost more than two hundred thousand dollars. Admission to an Ivy League school can sometimes be easier among people who are rich, powerful or are related to former students of the school.
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