The Ivy League is known for its immense academic rigor and success. The schools that comprise it, however, are strictly northern. Over the years the south has shown that it can have excellent academic institutions as well. The south has indeed mounted an infrastructural and educational comeback. Law and Medicine has made a nominal but noticeable migration to the south at institutions such as UNC, Florida, Georgia, Texas, USC (South Carolina), and many others. So why doesn’t the South have an Ivy League? Well, there was an attempt to make one called the Magnolia League (a rival foliage of Ivy), but it failed due to schools like Rice, Duke and others afraid of losing conference, bowl and rivalry money. In other words, the southern schools didn’t want one.
Over the next few paragraphs, I will do my best to construct the new southern Ivy League. However, due to the actual Ivy League standards I will only use private schools (sorry, UNC and UVA) and eight of them at that.
#8: Tulane University. Located in New Orleans, LA, Tulane not only ranks among the top party schools in the nation, it is known for extensive academic research programs. Not only that, they have an excellent medical program. While it is not considered as academically rigorous as the next seven schools, I’d have to call Tulane underrated. It won’t be long before their academic prestige catches up with their reputation. (Difficulty: Mildly competitive. Acceptance: 31 percent)
#7: Davidson College. Davidson is a hidden gem of southern education. A lot of people don’t know that the small Charlotte college on Lake Norman even exists. However, if you know anything about the school, you know that it’s an academic gauntlet. Davidson is known for being a strict academic institution. Athletics generally take a back seat and Greek life isn’t present there. They have made their own system of “Greek” social life instead. (Difficulty: Extremely competitive. Acceptance: 22 percent)
#6: Wake Forest University. (Go Deacs.) Wake Forest sits on its second location since its founding in 1836. Now located in Winston-Salem, NC, Wake Forest is mainly known for its division-one sports program juxtaposed with intense academic rigor. The 5,000 or so person school takes pride mainly in its undergraduate programs. With its ACC sports programs, Wake Forest has a national championship tennis and golf program, the #1 men’s soccer team in the NCAA, an impressive basketball alumni and is ranked as the #14 party school in the country. “Work Forest” takes pride in being well-rounded, above all else. (Difficulty: Very competitive. Acceptance: 29 percent)
#5: Rice University. “You can be a Rice, Owl … Or an FAU, Rice Owl.” The former is a much more impressive feat. There isn’t much to say about Rice. As ESPN’s “smallest school in top tier of NCAA,” the 4,000-person Houston college is known for being simply elite. If you go there, you’re smart.
(Difficulty: Too competitive for you. Acceptance: 16 percent)
#4: Vanderbilt University. Nashville, Tennessee. A city of country music, night life, great golf, expensive restaurants, beer trolleys … and academic prestige? Yep, Vanderbilt in many cases is as good as it gets. And with their recent baseball world series victory, starring the one and only Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt can now call themselves a well-rounded SEC school. It honestly couldn’t be harder to find a more difficult, impressive, academic edifice than what Vandy establishes. If you call yourself a Commodore, you’re intellectually elite, nonetheless. And you probably miss Butch Jones wearing orange.
(Difficulty: Extremely competitive. Acceptance: 12 percent)
#3 Emory University. Known for medicine and the inner-city Atlanta, this division-three college also has amazing law and undergraduate schooling. Like Davidson, Emory seems to be slightly more hidden from the mainstream. However, only the most qualified get accepted into Emory. Chances are, if you go to Emory, it is academics over oxygen. And I respect that.
(Difficulty: Very competitive. Acceptance: 24 percent)
#2 Washington & Lee University. Hidden but respected. Named after none other than George Washington and Robert E. Lee, W&L has a massive chip on its shoulder. All 1,800 of the students there most likely dominated their boarding school in Alexandria, VA. Nevertheless, the school’s very homogeneous student body will all probably excel to the top of their fields. They are the definition of southern and driven and are nothing short of CEO material. If you love the South, money, success, and know how to get a perfect score on the SAT, then you might be a General.
(Difficulty: Too competitive. Acceptance: 24 percent)
#1 Duke University. This one isn’t really debated. US News #8 national university. Forbes #10 Private University. Forbes #1 University in the South. And on top of all of this, they’re probably better at basketball than your university (unless you go to Mercer). If you go to Duke you don’t have much to be ashamed of, aside from that 59-7 hammer Wake Forest put down on you in football this year. Duke is considered to be more difficult to get into than some Ivy League schools. It is an elite group of students to say the least and deservingly tops off the ranks of J.D. Manos’ Official List of Southern Ivy League Colleges (J.D.M.O.L.S.I.L.C 2018).
(Difficulty: Don’t apply. Acceptance: 11 percent)
Honorable Mention: Washington University, Saint Louis, M.O.