Written by Chris Hernandez
Ivy League schools include the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Yale, Princeton, Columbia , Harvard, Brown, and Cornell. These are among the world’s most selective schools.
Because they are so sought after, they have to be highly selective with the students they grant admission, averaging at about a 9% acceptance rate.
These prestigious schools accept three types of students (or some mixture of these types):
Attending an Ivy League school can open many doors and put you ahead of your peers- it makes it easier to find employment, make meaningful connections, and much more. About 24% of the 400 wealthiest people in America rated by Forbes attended an Ivy League School.
After hearing this, it makes sense for you to want to be an Ivy alum, but how do you secure your admission into such a prestigious institution?
Through our college consulting programs, we have been helping students get into these types of schools for over 5 years now and have done a very good job according to our former students and parents.
First, we will examine the academic portion of getting accepted to an Ivy.
Although there is no benchmark grade point average (GPA) that will ensure your acceptance, there is a significant trend in coursework difficulty and GPA. Meaning, you will have to be taking high-level classes- such as honors, IB, AP, or AICE- and achieve high grades in them.
If you are applying to an Ivy, it can be assumed that you can handle more rigorous and intense coursework, so you should strive to take the most challenging curriculum available to you. Ask your guidance counselor or academic advisor if you can dual-enroll in a community college to round out your curriculum further.
It is important to remember, the board of admissions wants to see a student who has a consistently high GPA with a steady increase in difficulty. You must take your entire high school curriculum history into account when deciding if an Ivy is right for you.
GPA goes hand in hand with test scores; if you are in high-level classes, you should be receiving high scores on standardized exams. For prestigious schools such as these, ‘good’ scores actually mean nearly perfect scores. As with grade point average, there is no definitive score that will assure your admittance, but you shouldn’t be scoring anything below 1400 or 30 on the SAT or ACT, respectively. Unless you can find a way to stand out significantly in another way, scores lower than this typically result in rejection.
Next, we will look over performance. By this, we don’t mean academic performance but rather extracurricular activities. The board of acceptance will look at three factors in extracurriculars when considering your application: integration, continuity, and significance.
Integration refers to how the activity pairs with your goal. Remember, you are presenting them a portfolio, and you must tell a complete story with it. An integrated portfolio has elements that pair and compliment each other. For example, a student pursuing a political degree might have taken courses in political science, been an active member of their school’s MUN club, and have written in peer-reviewed journals or gathered experience in local office, either through internships or elected positions.
As with your grades, the board wants to see you steadily maintain your interest in your extracurriculars. Continuity ensures the board that you are not just joining a club for ‘brownie points.’ Participating in the same activity for a prolonged period of time demonstrates dedication and passion. This commitment hints that you will continue the activity in college.
You have many options on how to portray this to the board. You can choose to stay in the same activity throughout your high-school career, gaining rank in your upper-classman years, or you can change the activity. As long as it is in the same orbit of interest and shows an increase of rigor, it is regarded as a continuity.
Because Ivy leagues are typically older, they tend to be more traditional than other universities. Meaning they value conventional forms of validation and credibility- leadership within student organizations and sports teams, patents, publications, profound research experience, etc.
Significance is truly what sets the application apart when it comes to extracurriculars. Whatever it is that you seek to do, make sure you can prove the value and meaningfulness on paper.
You have to find ways to deepen the impact and purpose of activities.
Let’s say a student is interested in computer science. Being the president of his school’s computer club may not be enough- unless he founded or established it. He must work to improve it by doing something that will stand out- like collecting, repurposing, and donating computers to underserved communities if that is a cause he/she is passionate about..
As with every part of your application, you need to stand out from the other elites. Participating in unique activities will give you the edge necessary to compete with them.
Building connections early helps with Ivy admissions; this is especially important when you are not part of the elite connected group. Before now, being elite-connected was explained as something largely out of your control, now we will explain how to make and use powerful connections.
Fostering relationships early prevents making the connection feel forced or self-serving. Nurture relationships with educators, sponsors, mentors, and counselors early on for in-depth recommendation letters when application time comes around. Seek relationships with professors of interest in your favorite schools by following them on Twitter and establishing a rapport. We have Amikka Networking consultants that help our students with this.
Whether you have grown up wealthy or impoverished, your family connections are equally as meaningful in each scenario. While a more affluent student’s relationship may seem more powerful, a less endowed student with an organic connection receives a similar boost.
The hardship of growing up in adverse environments and being a first-generation student is not lost upon colleges. They recognize the achievement and consider it appropriately. Our founder was a first generation student that spent countless hours learning all of this on his own and ended up studying at UPenn Wharton and then going on to work at Google. The purpose of this blog and academy is to help even the playing field for students and lighten the anxiety that comes with being at a “disadvantage”.
Most Ivies require essays supplemental to the ones found on the common and coalition application. Writing an essay that stands out is one of the most straightforward ways of improving your slim odds of getting accepted.
If your high school career is your story, the essay is the prologue. Tell a story your readers cannot forget. It is important to be authentic, personable, and supplement something not shown in the rest of your application. You don’t want to keep mentioning the same accomplishments repeatedly; you want to share as much diverse information about yourself as possible.
Early decision/action acceptance rates at Ivy League schools are nearly double those in regular decision, so you might want to consider if an early application is right for you.
Early decision applications are binding -- meaning if you are accepted, you must attend. This contract can only be voided if you are able to provide documentation you are unable to attend, such as the inability to pay. This type of application is said to be preferred, as it shows dedication.
Early action is non-binding, and thereby less of a commitment. However, it will still help you stand out from standard applicants.
Generally, students hear back from the Ivies on a day now known as Ivy Day. This anticipated day can be emotional, so get your balloons and tissues ready for April 6th, 2021.
For more information on our tutoring and prep courses, click here.