Getting into an Ivy League School

The term Ivy League originally wasn’t used to denote the best universities but was rather a sports term. It is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private universities in the Northeastern United States.

Today the term is rarely used in reference to sports, instead specifically referring to the eight schools as a group of elite colleges with connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism. Ivy League schools are viewed as some of the most prestigious universities in the world.

The member schools are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University in alphabetical order. These Ivy League schools are highly selective, with their acceptance rates being approximately 10% or less. While all admitted students come from around the world, U.S. News statistics revealed that the average acceptance rate among Ivy League schools in fall 2018 was 7.25%. This clearly shows that getting into an Ivy League school is a big deal and an impressive achievement. So, how do people do it?

Let’s take a look at some stringent factors to consider that can boost your chances of being accepted.

Accumulate as many high grades as you can

To get into an Ivy League school, one of the major criteria applicants must meet is to have high test scores and top-notch grades. While there is no definitive benchmark GPA that will ensure acceptance into an Ivy League school, there is a trend when it comes to coursework difficultly and GPA: respectively, the harder the course work the better and the higher the grades the better. For the Ivy League’s, a high GPA is on average, a weighted 4.0.

SAT/ACT Test Scores are a key component of your college applications

SAT/ACT Test is a standardized multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by the College Board. The purpose of the SAT/ACT is to measure a high school student’s readiness for college. The subject areas to be tested include Math, English, Science reasoning, Evidence-based reading and writing, which also includes an optional Essay section.

For Ivy League schools it means one needs to have a near-perfect score which usually is an SAT score of 1580 (out of 1600) or ACT score of 35 (out of 36) this will place you right in the top 25% for most Ivy League schools.

Be multilingual: take language courses

Being able to communicate in multiple languages has a way of giving one an edge. This can easily create the notion of you having diverse interests aside from your mother tongue or that of the community where you’ve grown up. Universities would like to see students who show a variety of talents and skills that set them apart from the average applicant. Most high school applicants speak only one language so speaking multiple languages can make your application stand out especially if it is coupled with the ability to read and write in the second language.

Extra activities? A big yes!

While this may not sound like it has anything to do with academics or schoolwork, this may become useful when asking for recommendations from your high school body or bulking up your application. A strong recommendation is an added advantage.

Picking an extracurricular activity that benefits others can put you in a different category from regular applicants. It could be community service-based or creative activities, but it can’t just be for your own glory and excitement. An example could be, your love for drawing, when you don’t just draw for yourself, but share it with your community by putting on a gallery or inviting other artists to share their craft and encourage younger artists to learn and then donating the proceeds to a community course. With all these highlighted in your application, it can make yours standout of the many. Ivy League institutions are about making an impact in the world so you need to show them that you care about the world you’re in.

Though these may not really be a defining factor, your extracurricular activities show universities aspects of your personality that your grades and test scores can’t. Your job as an applicant is to convince the school that you’re that person who is going to achieve a great feat in the future because they make their decisions based on your past achievements when considering future potentials. Even though the past doesn’t always predict the future correctly this is the parameter these institutions usually use.

Be an early applicant. You snooze, you lose!

It is important to note that early applicants to Ivy League schools most likely have an advantage and are admitted more often than regular applicants. According to Business Insider, the Early Decision/Action acceptance rates for the class of 2021 show how much better ED/EA applicants’ chances are. Consider the statistics below:

Brown: 21.9% compared to 9%

Columbia: N/A for early decision/action; regular acceptance rate was 6.04%

Cornell: 25.6% compared to 12.5%

Dartmouth: 27.8% compared to 10.4%

Harvard: 14.5% compared to 5.2%

U Penn: 22.0% compared to 9.2%

Princeton: 15.4% compared to 6.1%

Yale: 17.1% compared to 6.9%

While this article should not be viewed as a magic guide on how to get into an Ivy League school, it helps to broaden your perspective on how you view your University admission path. It goes to show there are no easy tricks or shortcuts and certain sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your personal success. It takes a lot of hard work, passion, and some luck. It’s hard, yes! but definitely worth all the hassle. Most of the time, the benefits far outweigh the stress and efforts encountered during the admission process and even after school. Most graduates from an Ivy League school have a rich pool of friends/colleagues who are highly placed and are usually favored over regular graduates.