Getting into an Ivy League university– Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University–has always been challenging.
So many other kids having performed as well, if not better, and the chances of being accepted into these institutions are pretty slim, given the high number of applications with a small number of seats.
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Here are some things to remember if you want to get into an Ivy League.
Grades & Standardised Test Scores
Needless to say, your grades are the most important determinant of college acceptance. Your path ahead is smoother with straight As and the admission ofﬁcer will also tell you that they prefer straight-A students. However, just because you have a few Bs here and there doesn't mean you are done for. Generally, you need to take as many Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes as possible and score as high as you can; they help you to stand out and prepare you for the work load when you actually get into these Ivy League colleges.
Class rank also plays an important role in ensuring your entrance. If you go to a high school where the top 5% regularly gets into the Ivy League, make sure you are in the 5%. If only the valedictorian gets in, do whatever you can to be the valedictorian.
SAT and ACT are the two most common exams requested by most colleges. You will be sitting for three main sections in these exams with 800 marks maximum for each section: Verbal, Math, and Writing. A combined score of 2100 is the minimum you should get, but it is safer to aim for a combined score of 2200 to 2250.
The good thing about these tests is, practice makes perfect and a perfect score is possible with enough practice. There is also the requirement of at least two SAT II subject exams as well; the closer your score is to 800 for each exam, the better.
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Although you need to have outstanding grades, Ivy League colleges don’t want robots. In other words, you will have to be well-rounded which contributes to your success in the future, which is what the college wants: successful people. There are three main types of extracurricular activities: creative, athletic and volunteer. The admission ofﬁcer will be looking at the three dimensions in each of your activities: commitment, leadership, and recognition.
It is highly recommended that you have at least one creative, one athletic and one volunteer activity regularly for four years. It is good to start early and rack up extracurricular experiences that make your application stand out. Start now if you have none yet; better a year than none at all. A more prestigious-sounding activity will give a better impact; yearbook, debate, etc.
Then comes the writing where they say that they just want to get to know you. What they don’t tell you is that they are also looking for certain things in your writing.
First off, they want to know if you are capable of writing decently. Secondly, they want to see how well you can present yourself. Third, they want to know why you should be a candidate for their school. Finally, they want to get a gist of who you are, what you are into and what drives you. What makes you different from all the other applicants? No matter what you do, be honest as they can detect the smallest hint of a lie.
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One thing that you should know is that if one admission ofﬁcer likes you based on your application and essay, they will defend you and get the others to accept you too. Write something that can give your admissions ofﬁcer something to ﬁght for. Make sure that your writing is ﬁlled with positive energy; instead of writing about what you dislike, write about what you love. Write something that you have passion in, something that you know much about, teach the reader something new and make it unique. Remember, never make stuff up to impress people. Be yourself and show them the best part of yourself.
As scary as other criteria are in determining your admission into the Ivy League, recommendations are more critical as you have absolutely no control over them. You don’t even get to see the recommendation letters.
However, you do get to select who to write the letter for you. Ask teachers whom you've scored As in their classes. Do not antagonist them. Since these teachers have to write recommendations every year, they know what they’re doing. Trust them, be courteous, and chill.
Strategy You might think that applying to all Ivies is a good move, hoping that you can get into one of them. However, you are just subjecting yourself to unnecessary stress, especially if you are not accepted by any. Less is more in this context. Put yourself in their shoes. If this kid applies to all, why should I believe that this kid will attend my college and not the others that also accept him? Thus, the universal rejection.
Do your research, visit the colleges, talk to the professors in departments that interest you, speak to the students there and take their advice. You can also browse the college newspapers and blogs as they are able to give you an unﬁltered glimpse of student life, helping you to narrow down your choices to one or two. Apply early, give off a committed vibe and increase your chances of getting accepted.
You’re almost there if you’re at this stage. Not everyone gets an interview. Before doing anything, wear casual business clothing to show that you take them seriously. Strictly no jeans or t-shirts. Also, be punctual. Then, be prepared for the wide range of questions, from casual enquirers about yourself, family, goals and interests to probing questions about ethical/ legal issues. And don’t forget to keep yourself up-to-date with the current events.
Keep your answers short but informative, about four to six lines per answer to the question. Try to avoid responding in monosyllables. Show interest and sincere thought for the questions in your responses. Although you should talk about your achievements, don’t sound like you are boasting and self-centred. Accentuate your strengths and don’t dwell on your weaknesses. Keep your tone calm even when you are evaluated with stress or questions. Last but not least, listen to what the interviewer has to say. It gives a bad impression to ask questions on topics that have already been covered.
Asking questions at the end of the interview also plays an important role–it is what successful candidates usually do. However, do not appear desperate for something to say. Be sincere and interested in your questions. Research the topic extensively before dwelling on it. Make sure that the answer to your question is not obvious or already covered.
Now that you have the information, get all the necessary things done and good luck on your application!