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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?

  • Emsmom1Emsmom1 Registered User Posts: 1,011 Senior Member
    @justliviglife Thank you. She does love her school and is doing ok. We are very grateful she has been given this opportunity!
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,860 Senior Member
    My kid did not think about college admissions during high school and basically did what she wanted. She ended up with a major interest in a performing art and spent more time on that than academics. She didn't even look at the email from admissions because she wasn't thinking it was even possible that she got in. She didn't care either. But she had some great years at an Ivy and is glad she attended.
  • IB_Xavier_2017IB_Xavier_2017 Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    I think I got in through hard work and perseverance, not listening to all the negative comments about how hard is to get accepted, and keeping in mind that my goal was to get admitted to a quality school that would best help me achieve my goals and ambitions in life. I set my sights high, but cast my net as far as possible.
  • thebetterhawkeyethebetterhawkeye Registered User Posts: 111 Junior Member
    One day I was waiting for a program to run at work and came up with a list of the 5 categories of Penn students:

    Athletes: recruited for athletics, obviously. They tend to look scared and as if they don't belong.
    Legacies/other very rich kids: You know who they are by talking to them for a second. The difference between them and the athletes is that they're thoroughly convinced they got in on merit.
    Workhorses: Above average intelligence, surely, but they studied for several hours a night every night to get to where they wanted.
    Do-it-alls: President of every club, three-sport athlete, 4.0 unweighted GPA, etc. They work hard but for the wrong reasons.
    "Feral geniuses": Natural phenoms at a small number of things. This is me and most of my friends, and this title came up at a party where I said the only thing I'm good at is writing and the two friends I was talking to said that's why I got in; most kids can't write to save their lives.

    Basically I think the Ivies are looking for two categories of people: people who will get rich and give a lot of money back to the school as thanks, and people who will get famous and bring recognition to the school, thus encouraging more applicants.

    For me in particular, I can trace it to a few things. I was from a public school in Wisconsin that sends a few kids to Ivies every year, and I was the 3rd in a row to apply and get in ED to Penn. They want to set up a trend so more kids apply. Second, my essays showed off that I can really freakin' write. They were outside the box but they worked; I wrote about comic books in the Common App, I name-dropped punk rockers with Ph.Ds in my Penn supplement, and overall it showed who I was. Third, I had extraordinary rec letters: my English teacher for whom I wrote an essay on War & Peace, my APUSH teacher who I would eat lunch and talk about feminism with, and a University of Wisconsin professor who I've been doing research with since I was 14. Fourth, that aforementioned research: I'm second author on a paper pending publication already.

    Yeah, I also had the GPA and test scores to "fit in", but it wouldn't have made me stand out like my essays, letters, and research.
  • studentathlete18studentathlete18 Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    Case studies of kids from my school who got in:
    1. National History Fair Winner/two sport athlete (Harvard) (Rejected from Princeton early)
    2. two sport athlete/did it all (Harvard Early)
    3. Did it all. I mean did everything and was President of everything. Coke Scholar. National Merit Finalist (Rejected Yale SCEA, Accepted to Harvard)
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 1,641 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.
  • studentathlete18studentathlete18 Registered User Posts: 222 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.
  • ethanrimesethanrimes Registered User Posts: 8 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.
  • whatisyourquestwhatisyourquest Registered User Posts: 718 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
  • psywarpsywar Registered User Posts: 716 Member
    @ethanrimes well put. I also think your well developed self-awareness probably helped :)
  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 1,801 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.
  • 57special57special Registered User Posts: 474 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.

  • LizabethhhLizabethhh Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    no way! Would you mind sharing that essay? I would love to read it
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 2,741 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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