New Ivies

The nation's elite colleges these days include more than Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
Why? It's the tough competition for all the top students. That means a range of schools are getting fresh bragging rights.

A generation ago, elite schools were a clearly defined group: the eight schools in the Ivy League, along with such academic powerhouses as Stanford, the University of Chicago, MIT and Caltech. Smaller liberal-arts colleges—like Williams, Amherst, Middlebury, Swarthmore and Wesleyan—were the destinations of choice for top students who preferred a more intimate campus. But in the past few decades, the number of college-bound students has skyrocketed, and so has the number of world-class schools. The demand for an excellent education has created an ever-expanding supply of big and small campuses that provide great academics and first-rate faculties.

The bottom line: that one "perfect" school need not break a student's heart. The colleges on the following list—the "New Ivies"—are beneficiaries of the boom in top students. We selected them based on admissions statistics as well as interviews with administrators, faculty, students and alumni.