Gaining Admission to an Ivy League School
Unfortunately, getting admitted to an Ivy League School requires a lot more than your good grades. Out of the eight Ivy schools, seven of them have been listed among the country’s most selective colleges, with rates of admission ranging between 6% in Harvard University to 15% in Cornell University.
Selected applicants are those who earned outstanding grades in seemingly tough classes and showed significant interest in extracurricular activities. They must have also demonstrated leadership abilities and written remarkable essays. Every Ivy League school should be identified as a reach school.
Successful applications do not just evolve from putting in a little work during the time of application. It results from years of consistent and intentional work. Below are some tips and techniques you can employ to create a strong application for an Ivy League school.
Start Early to Build the Foundation for Success in Ivy League
Every Ivy League University (as well as every other university) will only regard your achievements from 9th grade to 12th grade. The admissions department will not consider the award you got in 7th grade as a plus, or refer to your membership in the varsity track team during 8th grade. So, successful applicants in Ivy League Schools start early to craft an excellent record in high school, even before they get to high school.
In terms of academics, if you maintain excellent performance in maths while in middle school, you are invariably setting yourself up to finish calculus before leaving high school. Another thing to start learning early and consistently is a foreign language in your school region. Doing this will motivate you to join an Advanced Placement Language class during high school; otherwise, take up a dual enrollment in a local college for a language class. Most of the successful applications are from candidates who have gained proficiency in a foreign language and have finished maths through calculus.
Although it is possible to gain admission without attaining these feats, your chances will be slimmer. Middle school is a good time to start preparing for college – by so doing, you would become fully aware of how the various vital techniques applicable in middle school prepare you for success in an Ivy League School.
Speaking of extracurricular activities in middle school, engage in them to discover your area of interest so that at the start of your ninth grade you have focus and resolve. In middle school, finding out that you would rather be on the drama team than play soccer after school is cool. You now have the responsibility of developing competence and becoming outstanding in drama during high school. This may be difficult if you only discovered your passion for theatre during your junior school year.
Intentionally Organize your High School Curriculum
Your high school transcript is the most important element in your Ivy League application. Generally, if you must persuade the admission folks that you are cut out to succeed in college, then you need to take the most complicated courses available. For instance, you should choose AP Calculus over Business Calculus. If you are given the options of Calculus AB and Calculus BC, the latter would be a more impressive choice. If you are confused about taking a foreign language class in your senior year, you should go for it (This suggestion is made on assumptions that you are confident in your ability to succeed in these courses.).
Also, you should be practical about your academics. Ideally, the Ivies do not expect you to study seven AP courses during your junior year and take on too much work to bounce back from, resulting in fatigue and/or poor performance. Concentrate on and excel in primary areas like math, English, science, and language.
You can also take courses like AP Statistics, AP Psychology, or AP Music Theory if they are available in your school, but you should not give equal energy to them as you would give to AB Biology and AP Literature.
Furthermore, you should know that Ivy League Schools understand that all students do not have equal academic opportunities. Just a handful of high schools teach a seemingly difficult International Baccalaureate curriculum. A wide range of Advanced Placement courses can be comfortably handled in bigger and more affluent schools.
Some high schools do not completely support that their students should take a dual enrollment course at a local college. If you went to a simple school with limited academic opportunities, your application into an Ivy League school will be given special considerations, and other factors like your recommendation letters and SAT/ACT scores will be more relevant for evaluating your preparedness for college.
Acheive Excellent Grades
You may be wondering if taking challenging courses is more important than earning high grades. Truth is, you need both for an Ivy League School. The admission departments will be interested in the fact that you had “A’s” in the challenging courses you took. Ivy League schools receive so many applications that they pay less attention to hefty GPAs. Such GPAs have vital and valid roles in deciding your rank in a class; however, when admission committees compare different students from different parts of the world, they will determine if the “A” you earned in AP World History was really an “A” or a “B” that was hyped up.
Understand that you don’t need to have an A in every course to be admitted into an Ivy League School, but with each “B” you have, your chances of getting admitted lessen. The GPAs of successful Ivy League applicants are not so heavy, usually in the range of 3.7 and above (3.9 or 4.0 occurs the most).
In a bid to make straight “A” grades, some applicants make awful choices while applying to highly sought after colleges. You don’t have to write a follow-up essay to clarify why you earned a B+ in your second year. However, there are a few circumstances that require an explanation for a poor grade. You should also note that some students with more unsatisfactory grades gain admission. This may be traced to the fact that their country or school has a different grading system, they have a unique talent, or they had a real issue that made earning “A” grades especially difficult.
Concentrate on Gaining Understanding and Achieving through Extracurricular Activities
Consider extracurricular activities as depth, not as breadth. A student who takes a passive role in a play one year, joins the yearbook in another, plays JV tennis during spring, and becomes a part of the Academic All-Stars during their senior year will be considered to be a dabbler, having no real passion or area of specialty (All of these activities are great, but they do not sum up to form a potentially successful Ivy League application.). Imagine a student who, on the other hand, plays the euphonium during 9th grade in County Band, does the same in Area All-State during the 10th grade, continues in All-State in the 11th grade, and even played in the school symphonic band, pep band, and concert band during those four years in high school. It is obvious that such a student is passionate about playing that instrument and would most likely transfer that passion to the campus.
Prove Your Dedication to the Community as a Member
The members of the admissions department want to add more students to their community, so they are obviously looking for students who are genuinely interested in the community. A way of demonstrating your interest is through community service. However, you need to understand that the numbers do not do the trick – an applicant who inputs 300 hours into community service may not stand a lesser chance than the one who has 1000 hours. However, be certain that the service you offer is significant to you and creates an impact on your community. You may decide to make one of your additional essays about a service project you worked on.
Earn High Scores in ACT or SAT
No Ivy League school is test-optional, and scores from SAT and ACT still have quite an influence over the admission status. One of the tools the Ivies employ to compare students is a standardized test because they receive applications from different parts of the world. Having said that, the admission officers are aware that students with better financial means stand a better chance with the ACT and SAT, and these tests somehow indicate the financial status of the applicant’s family.
To get an insight on what the ACT and/or SAT scores needed to get admission into an Ivy League school should be, one has to study the graphs from schools like Yale, Princeton, Penn, Havard, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia and Brown.
The statistics are saddening: a larger number of students admitted are earning top scores in the ACT and SAT. Simultaneously, you will notice some out of range points, and a few students get admitted with scores that are far from being ideal.
Construct a Successful Personal Statement
You are most likely going to be using the Common Application to apply to the Ivy League. This means you will have five personal statement alternatives. Researching the different essay options for your Common Application is a clever idea, and fully comprehending it is paramount. If your essay is dotted with mistakes or concentrates on a trivial or cliche subject, your application could be rejected. However, it doesn’t mean your essay should be about something unrealistic. You don’t need to have solved global warming or saved a bus packed with first graders for your focus to be effective. A lot more than your title, it is pertinent that your essay should be centered on matters that you consider important, written in a self-reflective and intelligent style.
Work Hard on Your Supplemental Essay
Every Ivy League school expects you to add school-specific supplemental essays to your Common Application essay. These essays are not to be joked with. First, these supplemental essays have a better way of reflecting your interest in a particular Ivy League school, a lot more than a common essay does. For instance, the admission folks at Yale are in search of students who are strong, as well as passionate about the school, having unique reasons why they want to attend Yale. If your responses in the supplemental essay are extensive and applicable to other schools, then you have erred in your approach to the challenge. Supplemental essays are highly effective tools that can be used to indicate interest in a particular school.
Ace Your Ivy League Interview
You will probably be interviewed by an alum of the particular Ivy League school you’re applying to. Although this interview is not the most important aspect of your application, it can make a difference. If you falter when asked about your reasons for applying and interest, your application can be destroyed. During your interview, you should try to be relatable and polite. Generally, interviews into the Ivy League are friendly conversations, and the interviewer wants you to have a satisfactory performance. A little practice can be of help. Think about the most common interview questions and try to avoid conventional mistakes.
Take Action and Make Decisions Early
Yale, Princeton and Havard have a single choice timely action program. The remaining five Ivy League schools have early decision programs. With each of these programs, you can only apply to one school using the early program. There are restrictions to early decision programs such that if you get admitted, then you have to attend. You should not go for the early decision option if you are not entirely certain that the Ivy League school you have applied to is your main choice. However, the early decision option permits you to make a different choice of school later on.
If you are set for admission to an Ivy League (based on grades, essays, extracurricular, interview and SAT/ACT), it will be best to apply early as you will have higher chances of being admitted. Your chances of being admitted based on the early and regular admission rates for Ivy League schools are four times higher than if you apply later.
Starting early and making due preparations can give you the chance to redesign some aspects of the application process to favor you. However, when it comes to the Ivy League admissions process, some factors are beyond your control. If such factors get favor you, fine; if not, don’t worry – most successful applicants don’t enjoy these benefits.
One factor beyond control is legacy status. Having a direct family member who attended your choice university can be an added benefit to you. Colleges appreciate legacies for a few reasons: they are already acquainted with the school and would most likely accept the offer of admission; moreover, maintaining a legacy can be helpful for alumni donations.
Another factor beyond your control is where you stand based on the university’s plan to admit diverse students. This implies that all things being equal, an applicant from New Jersey stands a lesser chance than the one from Montana or Nepal. Generally speaking, a strong applicant from an under-represented area has an advantage over an applicant from a highly represented group. This pattern might be seemingly illogical and has become a problem that has been taken up legally, but most private schools which follow this pattern believe that the undergraduate experience is a lot better with students from diverse ethnic, philosophical and geographical backgrounds.
Before starting your application process to an Ivy League school, you should have a good reason for preferring the Ivy League. However, most students’ reasons are vague, centered on the prestige or coercion by their friends or families. You should not forget that not one of the Ivy League schools has anything magical about it. There are thousands of colleges available, and the one which mostly corresponds with your academic interest, personality, and professional aspirations may not be an Ivy League school.
Annually, you’ll come across a news headline about a student who made it into all the eight Ivies. It is an impressive accomplishment, and the news channels are usually proud to cover such. Meanwhile, a student who may likely succeed in the active city of Columbia may not feel comfortable in the rural locality of Cornell. The eight Ivy League schools possess their differences, so they all cannot match the needs of a single applicant.
Also, don’t forget that there are so many colleges that offer outstanding tuitions ( most of them offer better undergraduate tuitions) than any Ivy League school, with a lot of them being easier to access. Some of them are more affordable as the Ivies do not give merit-based financial assistance (although they have a wonderful need-based aid).
Be certain that your reasons for applying to an Ivy League school are satisfactory and understand that not being selected into one of them doesn’t mean you failed: you can excel in the college you decide to attend.