Can schools like HYPSM to be anything but a reach for "normal" students?

<p>By normal, I mean students who aren't recruited athletes, legacies or URMS. </p>

<p>Are applicants with top grades and 98-99 percentile test scores whose leadership and community service accomplishments are more reflective of a normal high school student ever considered by any of the Ivy League or top 10 schools?
It seems as though it's nearly impossible without having done something exceptional like, oh, I don't know. Win the Nobel Prize at 14. Cure cancer. That kind of thing.</p>

<p>That’s what makes them exceptional.</p>

<p>Yes, it is just extremely uncommon. I have a friend who is a freshman at UPenn now, she had good grades, scores and ECs, but nothing that made her stand out…</p>

<p>The chances of getting in are certainly low, but you can’t get in if you don’t apply. The best and brightest from my school last year got into a few Ivies, but they didn’t do anything that exceptional.
Most people don’t get into top schools without standing out in some way, however.</p>

<p>The use of your word “normal” bothers me immensely. I “get” what you meant, but of ALL the students I know who got into an Ivy League School, MIT, or Stanford (and I personally know quite a few), not one of them “cured Cancer” (I wish), nor won a Nobel Prize (at ANY age, let alone age 14). </p>

<p>If you meant by not “normal”, that they were “extraordinary students” who did a LOT with their 17 - 18 years on earth so far, then yes, many of them did. But most of the students I know who got in were NOT athletes or URM’s, and not even legacies. They were the hardest working students who yes, likely were born with the innate intelligence and ability to achieve all they had, but ability without intense effort simply equals “wasted ability” in my opinion, and high IQ alone does NOT get one into an Ivy League. Earning straight A’s in the toughest classes, having leadership positions and extracurriculars both IN and OUTSIDE of school (including summers), having a passion or two or three in areas that you have sustained being involved in long term (ie: if a passion in writing, did you write since elementary school, were on on your middle school yearbook or newspaper committee, and again in high school, and did you enter and win writing competitions or write for a local paper?, etc.) – all this is a good start.</p>

<p>But yes, I realize these do not “guarantee you” acceptance - likely NOTHING does – but they sure can help a lot! On the other hand, if someone simply joins the Yearbook your senior year and expects that is sufficient, I believe they would be mistaken. Yes, getting good/great grades and excellent (though not necessarily Perfect SAT’s) are important, but you must do much more - but not necessarily “Nobel Laureate” more - than is simply a misconception, in my own experience.</p>

<p>I think Ivies are usually a crapshoot for a lot of students, but some things can definitely give you an edge.</p>