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Do I have to be an absolute superstar to get into any of the Ivy League?

curethevoid17curethevoid17 Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
edited September 2018 in Ivy League
Do I have to be an absolute superstar (international/national competitions , international or national level athletes, university level research) in order to get into Harvard or any similar level school ? This would be extremely difficult for me if I have to since I live in a rural extremely underrepresented town, I am a first gen (so my parents know nothing about college), very low income <35,000 and I’m apparently a URM since my parents are immigrants from Central America. Have any ordinary people gotten in to any prestigious universities if they’re not a superstar?

Replies to: Do I have to be an absolute superstar to get into any of the Ivy League?

  • washugradwashugrad Registered User Posts: 1,032 Senior Member
    The short answer is no but the odds are low for everybody. Look beyond Harvard... there are many very good universities in the US beyond the top 5.
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 12,878 Senior Member
    Most Ivy League students are accomplished. Some are only OK students but have rich/important parents. Still others are good students but not superstars, but they are (for example) athletes.

    Not knowing your SATs, your grades or your ECs it's impossible to say whether you have a chance at these very selective schools.

    But keep in mind that being a URM, first generation and from a rural area can be turned to your advantage since that is NOT the general profile of most Ivy League kids.

    If you have excellent stats, can get very good LORs and have done some interesting ECs you could give these schools a shot. Work very hard on your essay - that's your moment to shine and really "talk" to the admissions people.

    Just have a back up plan with schools that are matches and safeties. Good luck!

  • yaleivyleagueyaleivyleague Registered User Posts: 168 Junior Member
    you have a few hooks, which is good
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,614 Senior Member
    Rural, first generation, underrepresented area, low income- all help.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 5,315 Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    No. But you will need to put together an application so that you look like a superstar on paper.

    You have some things going for you in terms of hooks. The AO needs to believe that you will thrive academically and bring something special to the class.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,392 Senior Member
    But this is not just the competition to get an admit. It needs to show in your record nd application that, once there, you can manage the classroom competition, that high bar. Many students will thrive in a different sort of college. So don't just look at reputation. Find the right fit for you. Explore many options.
  • 2019RuralMe2019RuralMe Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    @lookingforward, that's right. My best friend in HS scored a perfect 1600 SAT first sitting, had a 4.0 GPA, got into Harvard. Failed out his 1st year. He later went to Bennington College, did well. Went into publishing, very successful career. It's not the school's name that matters, it's the educational environment and the student that matters.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 2,270 Senior Member
    edited October 2018
    Honestly this posts depress me: on the one hand everyone wants to know their chances at Ivy, as though they are the be all end all. Every Ivy is different from the others. There are many, many other schools better than some Ivies. The short answer to the OP is yes in a way. I also suggest some serious introspection. Do you really want to get into a top school just because you are poor and from Central America? (I say this because OP posted it and so many posters throw out their special categories knowing full well it makes a difference in admissions) Focus on what you excel at, what interests you, what makes you special and where you can succeed. This shouldnt be a brand name goal. Going to HYP is NOT a recipe or guarantee of success or happiness.
  • roony2roony2 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I would encourage you to be sure that no matter what school you choose (Ivy or not), they have adequate support for students who are first generation, perhaps didn't have as strong an academic background as private school counterparts etc. My college roommate and I (at an Ivy) both struggled academically trying to catch up on our study and writing skills. We were equally intelligent to our classmates, but hadn't had the strong academic background. She, in particular, had come from a low income, rural area where most of the kids didn't finish high school. She was an academic superstar for her area, but unprepared for the rigor of an Ivy League school. Unfortunately, the college did not have much in place to help us. I hope that has changed, but I imagine some schools are better than others. You want to be sure you find a place where you will thrive and be successful - and that may not be an Ivy! Or it may, but just be prepared.
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,219 Senior Member
    You don't have to be a superstar for sure to get in, and your three hooks, URM, first-gen, disadvantaged (which is Harvard's term for low income) will help, but you don't want to assume that it means you're getting in because of those. If you have the stats (not 1600 like your friend) but even something around 1400/30, you're in good shape. Your application will be viewed in context of your situation, so they're not going to expect Olympiads, div 1 athlete, science fairs because those require money and in some cases connections. Good luck.
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 1,113 Senior Member
    edited January 16
    Well, if by "superstar", you mean "have discovered a new element or a cure for cancer", than the answer is "no". However, if you mean "at the top 1%-3% of your class by stats and accomplishments", than the answer is "that's about right". The range for SATs of students accepted to Ivies are between the 95th and 99th+ percentiles, grades at the top 5%-10%, and ECs that have to be very impressive. if you figures that many of the recruited athletes and legacies are likely the majority of the relatively lower stats admitted students, you get an idea as to what you need to do to get into the schools with lower than 10% acceptance.

    However, early decision is also something that can increase your odds quite a bit. So, if you apply ED to Cornell or Dartmouth, (or whatever it is for Cornell), acceptance rates will be about 25% (though for Harvard, Yale and Princeton it's still less than 15%).

    So, either superstardom, or stardom + really wanting to go to a particular school.
  • emptynesteryetemptynesteryet Registered User Posts: 209 Junior Member
    edited January 17
    Just to add my son's friend was excepted to Yale this year. His hook? Poor......matched through Questbridge.

    2nd gen Cuban, 1500 SAT, no ECs aside from a few clubs, and two summer programs in Japan 8 weeks each, ranked 2nd in class of 341.

    Great guy, but nothing compared to what is posted here. His total due to Yale is 5k a year.

    Funny part is he iant even sure if he will go 5k seems so expensive to him. Family can afford 0$.

  • GreymeerGreymeer Registered User Posts: 696 Member
    You need to be awesome in some way.
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 1,113 Senior Member
    edited January 19
    @emptynesteryet Programs like Questbridge are for students who are unable to get those extra courses for SAT, have schools in which EC opportunities are limited, etc, yet are extraordinary kids who just need a chance. There are GPA, ranking and SAT requirements for application, as well as need. Of these, about 1%-2% are accepted into top schools.

    So, like @Greymeer writes, they also have to be awesome to be chosen for Questbridge as well, but in the context of being from a poor family.

    PS. 50% of Questbridge finalists are White and 31% are Asian.
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