Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

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

curethevoid17curethevoid17 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
edited September 26 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: 702 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: 12,316 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!

  • prezbuckyprezbucky Registered User Posts: 4,297 Senior Member
    edited September 26
    The toughest admit in the Ivy League is to the Dyson school at Cornell. Their admit rate is under 3%.

    But to answer your question, no, you don't have to be a superstar. All of the Ivies let in kids every year with GPAs under 3.8 and SATs under 1450 -- but most of them are hooked. If you're an unhooked applicant, you probably want to have a 1500+ SAT or 34+ ACT, with a GPA over 3.85, and a high school transcript that shows plenty of rigor. You also want to write outstanding essays and hopefully turn in strong teacher recs. As for ECs, it held to win awards, but i really think what adcoms are looking for most is a picture of whom you are and how (and whether) you would fit in at their school. That's why I think it's better to join clubs and take part in projects and competitions that actually interest you, not just to slap it on the app. If you're scattered, it might make it harder for them to see a clear picture of you and your interests.

    There's no magic bullet, but i think if you:

    - Take hard classes and do well in them
    - Score well on tests
    - Take up ECs you actually care about and show leadership, and
    - Clearly show who you are in your essays

    ...you give yourself the best possible chance of acceptance at selective, holistic schools.

  • yaleivyleagueyaleivyleague Registered User Posts: 89 Junior Member
    you have a few hooks, which is good
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,850 Senior Member
    Rural, first generation, underrepresented area, low income- all help.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,545 Senior Member
    edited October 30
    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: 29,925 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: 60 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: 2,240 Senior Member
    edited October 30
    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: 1,851 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.
Sign In or Register to comment.