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

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

  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 1898 replies70 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    My son got into a few, I believe, due to his natural talent in violin that was well developed through hard work and dedication since he was 5, as well as having done very well academically. Trying to excel in both was very very difficult not just for him but for me as a parent, as well. Lots of sacrifices and lots of hard work and perseverance. Although an Asian-American parent, I absolutely detested the "Tiger Mom" (or Dad, in my case) approaches to raising my kids. I'd say my approach was the best of my Asian culture and American style combined. Although my son had no time left after academic and EC pursuits, he hardly ever missed going to parties, homecomings, plays, football games and even 3 proms. There was no way that I was going to prevent him from experiencing the full extent of what high school years had to offer. Of course, something had to give and indeed he did pull back a bit academically (finished 6/350 with 3.93UW and 4.64W in IB Diploma Program) and even more in violin pursuits (often having to apologize to his private teacher for arriving to lessons without having prepared all week!) In order to accommodate all of his socializing, he had to sacrifice a couple hours of sleep a day. But that was his decision, so he had no complaints.

    He also competed in Taekwondo in local, state and national levels, earning bronze and silver medals mostly, and he was #1 singles and captain in varsity tennis. But I think it was his achievements in violin that got him noticed more than anything else. He had numerous concerto competition wins starting at age 10 and was concertmaster at local, regional, all-state and national youth orchestras.

    His high school typically only sends 1 or 2 at the most to Ivy schools each year (never Harvard, though, except one outstanding swimmer recruit some 5 years ago) and one every other year to either Stanford or MIT and Duke. The school sent one student each year to Princeton for three years in a row which, I believe, is a record. I don't believe that's any sign of a trend, though. But it's interesting to note that Princeton had picked only the IB as opposed to the AP students (the high school has both).

    Of the two students who were admitted to Princeton before my son, they were academically excellent with garden variety ECs, so I do know that Princeton doesn't look for only those with a strong spike in their resume. So being a well-balanced applicant is good, too.
    edited December 2017
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  • studentathlete18studentathlete18 216 replies21 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited December 2017
    (Harvard Early Action Admit) I was well rounded. I did everything at school and held leadership positions and varsity positions. I also had a spike though and two very unique ECs. I was passionate about everything I did; I never did anything for a college app. I did it because I loved it. My school also has a history of Harvard admits choosing Harvard, which helps reputation.
    edited December 2017
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  • ethanrimesethanrimes 8 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I got into Penn with the usual hooks. Legacy and URM (Hispanic). I worked a "real" job (landscaping) and wrote about it for my common app essay. I worked a career-oriented job (VC firm in Peru) and wrote about it in my supplements. I had the privilege of going to a small school where teachers knew me well and were able to write (I think) stellar recs. My activities list (freshman prefect, farming, rock climbing, etc.) was quite different.

    I'm no expert here, but I think that at these schools with 40,000+ applicants for 1500 slots, the goal should really be to stand out. You wanna be the kid that the admissions officers are discussing at their lunch break because something piqued their attention, and that something is definitely not going to be a good SAT score or a 4.0 GPA. The dean of admissions at UChicago said that he talked about "cannibal girl" for days. Maybe you don't want to be that off-the-wall, but you have to find some way to make them remember you.
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  • whatisyourquestwhatisyourquest 739 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    I agree with @ethanrimes that having "something (that) piqued their attention" can be a big help for admission to highly-selective universities. The following thread deals with this subject and calls it "finding the AND."

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1797102-elite-admissions-finding-the-and-p1.html
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  • psywarpsywar 695 replies24 threadsRegistered User Member
    @ethanrimes well put. I also think your well developed self-awareness probably helped :)
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  • websensationwebsensation 2107 replies39 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    @HyperTurbo A very good general description of 3 groups who get in without hooks. There is something to be said for a well put together application that ties in the applicant’s academic and life experiences with essays. However, all your efforts might not be appreciated if the adcom reviewer does not appreciate your story. You have to get a reviewer who really appreciates your application and will fight for you. That’s luck. My kid definitely had that luck in having an adcom who connected with him for Stanford REA application. I never imagined he would make NMF and get into Stanford if someone had asked me about the possibility when he was a sophomore questioning why he had to even go to high school. I told him he didn’t have to and no one was making him, but he should learn some trade to make a living. If someone had told me when he was a Junior he would be going to UCLA/Berkeley, I would have gotten on the floor and kissed that person’s feet out of happiness for my kid.
    edited December 2017
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  • 57special57special 592 replies15 threadsRegistered User Member
    The two friends of my son who got into Yale and Harvard are just bloody smart. The Harvard accepted kid in particular is unusually bright. Both had perfect ACT's and perfect GPA's. The Yaley is smart, and also a hard worker. Neither is particularly athletic, though one could have been if given the encouragement. The other could be a comedian. Both are Asian....one of Indian extraction, one Chinese.
    Couldn't of happened to nicer kids. Both self effacing, and not a trace of arrogance. In fact, they are trying to keep it quiet that they were accepted so other kids who were rejected won't feel bad.

    Happy for both of them.

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  • LizabethhhLizabethhh 21 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
    no way! Would you mind sharing that essay? I would love to read it
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  • CU123CU123 3592 replies68 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    One more thing, my DD is at UChicago (applied early and was accepted and done) and her friend is at Harvard, neither had any hooks or did anything on the national level. However, like others have said, there is no formula, her friend was REJECTED at Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Brown, and Columbia. Not that she was perfectly qualified to attend all of them, it just seems that she was a fit for Harvard.


    P.S. The good news is my DD just made $20 for a Stanford research project (15 min interview) on kids who get admitted to highly selective colleges. Maybe they will have some answers when they finish there research.
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  • LadyMeowMeowLadyMeowMeow 257 replies17 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Congratulations @jayofbrooklyn. You may be right about 'objective stats' in your case, but I wouldn't generalize. Yale students have high grades & and SATs well into the 1500s, which means most of those Tolstoy lovers and violinists took the objective criteria seriously.
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  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1491 replies14 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @jayofbrooklyn congratulations and I really like what you said about “after certain level of SAT and GPA, those become irrelevant”, it is sort of like once ur IQ is above certain level, it becomes less important whether ur 135 or 140, what is more important is soft skills like interpersonal skills, communication skills, ability to face difficulties, etc.
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  • jayofbrooklynjayofbrooklyn 9 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @LadyMeowMeow Oh, yes, absolutely. I didn't think I generalized: after a certain level all those numbers become irrelevant precisely because everyone has good SAT and GPA. They're obviously important, because ultimately you are applying to an academic institution, but once those past muster, (we can probably talk for weeks about what the sweet spot is for those numbers) focus on something else. I've met way too many people who obsess about SAT and GPA and fail to build a character or personality in high school. The Yale kids have high SATs and GPAs, but they're Tolstoy lovers and violinists with high SATs and GPAs, in my opinion, not the other way around.
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  • jayofbrooklynjayofbrooklyn 9 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @makemesmart Yes, exactly, it's sort of that same thing. They even say this: most kids can do the work, but obviously not everyone is admitted. I think the distinguishing factor becomes interests, character, and personality. From what I've gathered about Yale, the people are silly but also very intense. I'm lucky to have met a number of alumni, students, and of course admitted people from 2022 and that's definitely the golden thread. A levity and a deep fascination with something.
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  • FireLordAzulaFireLordAzula 42 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
  • anonpenn2022anonpenn2022 40 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I was accepted ED to UPenn Wharton's class of 2022. Although I may be redundant, I'd like to give my two cents. Other than academics (which you don't have to be perfect in, just very strong), what I've discovered is that colleges really care about focus. I was only in 1 CLUB in all of high school plus two varsity sports teams; yet, outside of school, I co-founded a nonprofit and was nationally ranked (top 30, as of now) in a certain EC (non-recruitable). Every single one of my extracurriculars were focused and interrelated with one another, thus making it easier to sell my package.

    My advice: Don't strive for being an officer and/or president of 10 different, already existing clubs in school. Founding a club in school is a good start, but you have to truly do something meaningful with this new establishment (not the traditional "made states" and "fundraised $1000" type of thing).

    Also, I spent two months on my common app essay and UPenn essay. I think those were extremely important, and it's imperative to express your voice in those. Hope this helps!
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2439 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "I'm looking for the post that says "daddy's money.""

    That's a factor for sure, the wealth at the ivies, especially HYP is staggering, and this is coming from someone in silicon valley. The other thing is ED for the five ivies that offer it, definitely helps chances. Many kids in the bay area get in via ED.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2439 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    They'll probably find what other people are concluding, it's too random a process to figure out how it works, esp for all the selective schools. You could find it more predictable for one college, but even then at a place like Stanford, where the school or admissions office can change goals for the class (e.g. more first gens) year to year, it could still be random or as behavioral economists like to say, luck.
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