Well now that the buzz and excitement surrounding graduation has flagged, I've decided to share my college admissions story and how I got into a HYPS. I was accepted to one HYPS while being waitlisted at two and rejected from one (in addition to being accepted at several top-20 schools and other Ivies). I hope to provide a few pieces of advice on getting into a top college.
1) Courseload - Take the hardest classes you can. I took 3 APs my junior year and 4 my senior year. That was the most I could take at my school and it paid off.
2) Hooks - THESE CAN HELP YOU A LOT. I have a Hispanic last name (although only my grandfather is Hispanic in my family - they give you a lot of freedom in identifying your race so TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS) and I was able to use this to my advantage. If you are a first-generation college student or if you're low-income, try to have this communicated this through your GC rec. Let them know you're special and can fill an institutional need (if possible). If you are not hooked, do not despair. Many, many unhooked kids get in who are just like me.
3) Essays - WORK HARD ON THESE. I waited until the week before the deadline (bad idea! but I'm a good writer so I was able to do it) but I really wish I started earlier.
4) Recommendations - Show your teachers that you are curious and love learning. Set yourself apart from the other students who get A's.
5) GPA - Get a good GPA. I finished with a 3.7 UW, which is around the soft cutoff for GPAs. Higher is better
6) SAT - Prepare a lot. I took this in my sophomore year and scored an 1880. After taking a couple of SAT classes, going to an SAT camp, and exhausting my resources (such as BB), I pulled it up to a 2130. In general, anything above a 2100 is solid.
7) ECs - I was president of many major clubs at my school. You don't have to have office positions, but they show that you're likable. BEING LIKABLE IS IMPORTANT
8) Be special - I had a couple of really neat ECs that I do not wish to divulge here, but please FIND A WAY TO BE SPECIAL (but don't do it for college - do what you like, do it well, and you'll be special)
Cheers :) I hope this helped. Obviously this isn't a guide on getting into HYPS (nor does it guarantee admission) but if you're a new user and are confused about admissions then hopefully this cleared some things up. Remember, 1) the process is holistic, and 2) find a way to be special.