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Ivy League students- how do YOU think you got in?

LampoLampo Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
I want to know what YOUR story was, be as specific as possible. I know that many people have no idea how they got in because they did not expect it, and the decision is ultimately up to the admissions officers. But I want to know- what extracurriculars did you pursue? What was your "niche" and how did you progress through it? What was your journey? What were some of the challenges you faced?
Thank you

Replies to: Ivy League students- how do YOU think you got in?

  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 5,566 Senior Member
    Other people's stories are interesting, but they aren't a formula that you can follow to get accepted to an Ivy. Pursue your own interests and make sure your application shows who you are. Then find the colleges that are fits for you and apply there.
  • LampoLampo Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    I know it's not formulaic, but sometime's when identifying an interest to pursue during high school, it's had to know even where to begin. Personally, reading how other people take their interest to the highest of heights serve as sort of an example for me, not a guiding formula.
  • psywarpsywar Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    Son, Princeton Class of 2020.

    Middle-class, male from Texas public school, never sent a student to Princeton prior to my son.

    Great grades = 4.0 UW
    Great rigor = 12 APs, including 5 senior year, didn't slack off
    Great scores = 36 ACT, 800 Math, 730 History, 780 Chemistry SAT II's
    Great class rank = 3 / 750

    Good ECs / honors = NMF, jv soccer, started board game club that combines leadership, school fun with engaging / mentoring title one students at elementary school, NASA aerospace scholar, National AP scholar, National ChemOly, treasurer for math club , some UIL, some robotics club, some community service. Job was soccer referee.

    Excellent essays = cohesive narrative combining hobby with community service in a very quirky, emotionally honest essay

    Princeton short responses / supplement = honest, engaging responses. You would know my son after reading these. They supported his main essay narrative. The adcoms would walk away with an identity for him. This helped him stand out I believed.

    LoRs = both teachers and counselor referenced his school work, his hobbies, his ECs, again supporting his personal narrative.

    Possibly biggest attribute = luck. Adcoms could have had a good or bad day when reading his app. At this level, with so many excellent candidates, you can do good work, craft great essays, but in the end... it is mostly luck.

  • HyperTurboHyperTurbo Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    I am not an admissions officer, but I have talked to some, know many many students who have gotten in every year, and have seen many trends.

    I think most people admitted fall into these three categories, in my opinion:

    1. Recruited because of high achievement in Athletics; Come from Famous/Super Rich Family - with very possible Donation to School;

    2. They were Extremely talented in one area of EC other than recruitable sports (Music/Arts, STEM, etc.). (I'm talking about National, at minimum, + International Achievement. Basically a super "shining" point that distinguishes them from other applicants.)
    OR a very shining point in their background (extreme circumstances yet still achieving great academic records)

    3. For those who are not category 1) and 2): All the parts of their application story clearly aligned and pointed to wholesome, genuine passion/interest. The schools believe that based on the students' complete story and application, they will contribute to the school's mission and and be a good fit. This is a very generalized way to put it, because every applicant has their unique "story", but this is the least-convoluted description I can think of. Example:

    I think this is the biggest reason why everybody says its "not just your Standarized test scores". Are you president of 5 completely unrelated clubs you started just to put on your resume, have you done an internship/camp just because it looks impressive on your CV? Or did you do that entrepreneurship camp or internship at your friends' dad's company because you are genuinely interested in business, scientific research/competition because you really like science, or volunteered at X for the hundreds of hours you claimed because you really care about it?

    There are also many other background factors - perhaps not as extreme as those in category 2, (Legacy, First Gen, URM, Well known High School), that can boost your application too.

    NOTE: You also have to keep in mind there are only so many spots in these schools. There is NO DOUBT very exceptional and qualified kids who perhaps have equally worked their butts off in high school, or maybe DO fall into category 3, get overlooked and denied admission every year. When you have tens of thousands of smart, talented kids applying and you can only accept 5-14% of them, there obviously are some excruciating tough decisions.
  • Community2605Community2605 Registered User Posts: 127 Junior Member
    My son - Yale '19

    Long story of his admissions process here:

    Main tidbits - white, middle-class male, public school, small town in the Midwest

    Education and test scores - IB diploma, all-A's, 3rd in the class, 2300 SAT, 35 ACT, glowing recommendations

    EC's - I think this is where he stood out. His EC's were many and varied. Sports, academic competitions, chess, tons and tons of music. Leadership experience was a little light.

  • PoliticsrulePoliticsrule Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    @HyberTurbo I completely agree!
  • PoliticsrulePoliticsrule Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    @HyperTurbo I completely agree!
  • doorrealthedoorrealthe Registered User Posts: 458 Member
    I am a recent high school graduate who will be attending Dartmouth this fall. I am from a highly competitive Northeast school that sends approximately 30-50 students every year to Ivies or Ivy equivalents (Stanford, MIT, etc). I applied to all 8 Ivies. Got accepted by Dartmouth, transfer option from Cornell, wait listed at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, rejected from Brown, Princeton, and Penn (deferred ED and then rejected from Wharton).

    Completely unhooked, below a 3.9 UW GPA, 2300 SAT, 800 Math II, 670 Lit. I think I got in because my ECs showed I was passionate about an academic field. Having that "spike" helps a great deal. You want to be an ace at one trade instead of a jack of all trades.
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