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How to get into Ivy League schools?

Ivy League schools are known for only accepting the best and the brightest applicants, often boasting low acceptance rates. 

In 2021, the Ivy League school with the highest acceptance rate was Cornell University which only accepted 5,889 of the 47,038 applications it received from applicants, an acceptance rate of 12.5%. Harvard University, which had the lowest acceptance rate, only accepted 5.2% of its applicants.

Needless to say, getting accepted into an Ivy League school is easier said than done. However, that does not mean it is not impossible.

If you know what these Ivy League colleges and universities are looking for in an applicant, you can step up your application and improve your chances of getting admitted into one of these top schools.

Here is a list of everything you need to know in order to get into an Ivy League school:

Ideal applicants

Ivy League schools are largely looking for one thing: students that will become successful alumni and make the school look good.

This means that they want students who are likely to-

1. Make a positive difference in the world post-graduation

2. Make a positive difference in the school’s community while achieving their degree

Alumni who make a positive impact on society will help the school shine and help them stay profitable and prestigious. Parents want to send their students to schools that have taught and molded successful politicians, award-winning doctors, Nobel Prize winners, and critically acclaimed authors. For this reason, admissions officers at ivy league schools seek to accept students that they believe will make world-changing contributions in the future.

Ivy League schools also want to accept students who will contribute positively to the school before graduation. Students who step up in leadership roles, encouraging their peers to reach their fullest potential and developing clubs and organizations that make the school look better, are a dream come true for Ivy League schools.

When you keep these two factors in mind, it can help you determine the steps you need to take in order to boost your chances of getting into one of the eight Ivy League schools.

The key to getting accepted to an Ivy League school presenting an application that shows them that based on your high school career, you are going to be capable of making a positive difference in the world after graduation and on campus prior to graduation.

Here are a few ways to help you demonstrate these capabilities to Ivy League admissions officers.

Focusing on depth rather than breadth

You’ve probably heard people say that in order to get into an Ivy League school, an applicant needs to have dozens of extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences on their resume.

While it is always great to stay involved and to help others, having a long list of extracurriculars without any depth can actually cause more harm than good.

If you have dozens of extracurriculars on your resume, chances are you are only engaging in surface-level participation with each of them. While it is certainly possible, it is not likely that you are able to serve as the president and devote the time, energy, and effort that Ivy League schools are looking for to dozens of different groups at your school. There’s simply not enough time in the day.

It’s far better for you to only have two or three extracurriculars that you have made a major contribution to throughout your four years of high school. Did you start a club on your own and turn it into a group that is successful and thriving? Did you put in countless hours managing and growing a community event year after year? Did you serve as the president of an organization at your school, devoting time and energy to making sure all operations ran smoothly?

This depth is far more valuable than breadth when it comes to extracurricular and volunteer activities.

Ivy Leagues don’t want students on their campus that will attend a meeting here or there for 20 different organizations. 

They want students who are passionate and dedicated to the activities they choose to participate in at the school. 

They want students who will work hard and climb to leadership ranks in their organizations. 

They want students who will help the different activities and organizations on campus to flourish.

They want students who actually care about the activities they are involved with at the school.

If you want to increase the likelihood of getting into an Ivy League school, focus less on doing several small volunteer activities where you show up for an hour or two and leave, and prioritize getting deeply involved with a volunteer organization where you can exercise leadership and make a major difference in your community. Spend less time trying to sign up for as many extracurricular activities as your school has to offer and become a positive contributing member and leader in the few activities that you are passionate about at your school.

By prioritizing depth over breadth, you will help your chances of getting into an Ivy League school.

Challenging yourself

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed at an Ivy League school. If you are going to make a positive impact on campus and in the world, you need to show admissions officers that you are not only able to handle challenges and obstacles that you might face but that you can actually thrive in the midst of these hardships.

The best way to show admissions officers that you have what it takes to overcome the challenges you will face in college and beyond is to show them that you have been willing to challenge yourself in high school.

This means signing up for honors, AP, and IB classes that typically require more discipline and effort than regular courses. This means taking four years of English, science, and math courses, even if they aren’t required for graduation in your state.

When colleges see that you received good grades in challenging courses, it will help your application look more desirable.

If you are struggling to earn A’s in these challenging courses, consider working with a private tutor to help you improve your understanding of the course content and earn good grades and exam scores.

Standing out from other applicants

In order to show Ivy League admissions officers that you will be able to make a difference in the world after you graduate, you need to demonstrate that you are already taking initiative that helps you stand out from applicants 

In addition to your extracurricular and volunteer experiences, you can demonstrate your ability to stand out among other applicants with a great SAT or ACT score.

If you earn an SAT or ACT score in the 99th percentile, it shows that you outscored 99% of other applicants, letting admissions officers know that you are at the top of the incoming class.

To have the best chance at earning a score in the 99th percentile, sign up for private SAT or ACT tutoring or take a prep course through Prep Expert. We also offer college admissions consulting.

Learn more about how Prep Expert can help you get into an Ivy League school when you visit our website

Prep Expert

Written by Prep Expert

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