Chance a self-conscious creative writer for Ivies + LACs

if you know me, for my sake, please look away <3


white (jewish) cis female from the northeast, not asking for aid, competitive public school, both parents went to ivies (but not the ones i’m applying to, unfortunately)

intended major(s)

anthropology, linguistics, english/creative writing


sat: 1510 (790 reading/720 math)

gpa: no UW, 5.9/6.0 weighted

ap: us gov (5), apush (5)

rank: n/a


fresh & soph: no ap’s offered

junior: ap gov, apush (maximum allowed)

senior: ap 2d studio art, ap chinese, ap psych, ap calc ab, ap lit, honors enviro sci (not ap but follows the ap curriculum)


enjoy the vagueness!

  • first place and finalist in a bunch of international/national creative writing competitions

  • first place in high school linguistics article competition

  • finalist for nsli-y scholarship

  • national merit commended


  • 4 selective writing/humanities summer programs → 1 in 11th grade summer, 25 hrs/wk, 2 wks; 3 in 12th grade summer, 30 hrs/wk, 4 wks (going in add’l info though)

  • independent creative writing–> wrote 3 novels; received manuscript requests from literary agents. write poetry & short fiction with publication in selective literary magazines (<5% acceptance rate). (grades 10, 11, 12, 6 hrs/wk, all year, 40 wks/yr)

  • high-level editor at international student-run literary magazine with 300+ editors → compile in-house edits for accepted pieces, send final rejections, provide feedback to junior editors, review prose & poetry submissions. (grades 9, 10, 11, 12, 6 hrs/wk, all year, 45 wks/yr)

  • EIC of my high school’s lit mag–> lead editorial meetings, design social media graphics, manage submission process, compose annual digital and print magazine. (grades 10, 11, 12, 4 hrs/wk, school year, 40 wks/yr)

  • unpaid internship at a lit mag–> provided feedback on all poetry submissions, wrote rejection letters, managed communications for public showcase of apprentices’ creative work. (grade 11, 6 hrs/wk, 24 wks/yr)

  • volunteer at town’s public library–> facilitated a project culminating in digital publication of local teens’ writing and art, clean community spaces, prepare art projects, oversee annual book sale. (grades 9, 10, 11, 12, all year, 1.5 hrs/wk, 40 wks/yr)

  • board member of foreign language national honor society–> collect and design layout of submissions for high school and elementary school multilingual magazine, coordinate chapter-wide events, plan annual culture Fair. (grade 10, 4 hrs/wk, school year, 40 wks/yr)

  • varsity tennis–> played doubles matches with rotating partners. received a small award from my coaches and captains. (grade 9, 15 hrs/wk, school year, 14 wks/yr)

  • paid literary internship–> moderated a website for inappropriate content, peer-reviewed 4 teen users’ pieces a week, wrote exemplars for community writing prompts. (summer of grade 9 into grade 10, 3 hrs/wk, all year, 24 wks/yr)

  • independent book blogger–> reviewed 25+ ARCs (advance reader copies) from traditional publishers—Macmillan, Penguin, etc.—on my blog, netgalley, twitter, and goodreads. (grades 11, 12, 2 hrs/wk, all year, 25 wks/yr)

  • local art class teacher’s assistant–> (unfortunately, severely interrupted due to COVID) manage classroom supplies and work with middle & elementary schoolers to refine their visual art projects. (grades 10, 12, school year, 1 hr/wk, 30 wks/yr)

  • president of school book club–> select books from diverse genres and authors, lead analytical discussions on them with peers. (grades 11, 12, 1 hr/wk, school year, 20 wk/yr)

  • national honor society–> no leadership so just the usual tutoring and volunteering (grades 11, 12, 2 hr/wk, school year, 30 wk/yr)


  • 7/10? multiple family members, friends, and my ap lit teacher have read my personal statement and really liked them, and i have experience with creative writing


  • 8/10–> junior yr ap gov and apush teacher. have/had a strong relationship with them + they studied anthropology and have experience in my potential career field + they know my family well

  • 6/10–> nice junior yr teacher who’s used to writing a lot of recs but doesn’t know my interests well outside of that class

  • 5/10–> only met my guidance counselor once or twice but has my resume and knows the rest of my family


earlies: yale (ahhhh), umass amherst

regular: stanford, brown, amherst college, swarthmore, middlebury, northeastern, boston university, vassar, hamilton college, university of rochester, brandeis, connecticut college


some of the schools on my list are matches, not reaches, according to naviance history for my school, so i promise i’m not neglecting realistic options! and i visited both of my safeties so i know i would actually be happy attending them if that’s how my results end up

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You’ll be in umass. Brandeis. CT for sure. And likely others bit I don’t think Yale or Stanford. But it’s great to try.


Based on your interest and achievements in creative writing, you might enjoy this article, which, itself, was written with a bit of creative flair:

The writer, you will note, went to Yale, and the listed schools include, well, Yale.

Regarding your chances, expect to do consistently well (with mostly acceptances) until the admission rates of your choices fall below ~15%. For the ultra-selectives on your list, I’d expect you to see some success as well.

For suggested additions, consider Kenyon and JHU.

Best of luck.


I understand your sentiment, but without knowing where the awards came from a chance me for the tippy tops is very tough. If the awards are well-known you can search the results threads for the schools you are most interested in, and that may give you an idea of what you’re looking at.

Yale is a wonderful school that attracts a lot of creative writers… making it once of the toughest nuts to crack for creative writers. Kind of like trying to get admitted to Stanford for computer science. The popularity of the major at a school can be inversely related to one’s chances.

Good luck!


To clarify, it appears the OP has listed six schools with sub-15% admission rates: Yale, Brown, Stanford, Amherst, Hamilton and Swarthmore. She should expect one or more acceptances from this group.


When do you sleep? :slight_smile:

Are you submitting writing samples and can you fit all this info in the application or do you need to submit a writing resume separately?

Can you have a letter of recommendation from someone who knows your writing. For example, a teacher at a summer program?

Check with each school’s website (or call) about how they would want you to do this (writing sample, resume, LOR).

I think your chances are good.


hi! a lot of these activities didn’t happen concurrently or didn’t happen every week, so i still get a solid 7 hrs or so of sleep a night, haha

i plan to submit a writing sample to places that have specific supplemental instructions/spaces for it (such as swarthmore). i listed a few of the most recognizable and selective of my writing awards in the main honors section, and i’m listing creative writing as my first activity, so i’m putting a note in that description to check add’l info for further awards/publications/programs.

i read that sending too many additional documents can be cumbersome to AOs, so i’m not sending a LOR from a teacher at any of my summer programs (except stanford since I have a LOR from a stanford-specific summer program). that said, my counselor and teachers writing my LORs have my resume, so at least my counselor will probably incorporate info about my writing into their LOR.

and of course, thank you!!

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So you will put more info in the additional info section?

I honestly don’t think an additional letter related to writing is cumbersome :slight_smile:

I wish you the best of luck- and more good sleep !

I like this list better:

You have some on your list, and I would also recommend Kenyon, if you are OK with being in the Midwest.

I would replace Brown with Princeton, UPenn, UChicago, or Columbia, especially if you are a legacy for one these, replace one of the others with Skidmore, and think of U Iowa as a safety.

You have a pretty impressive set of literary accomplishments which would, I think, be attractive for colleges with strong creative writing programs.

I think your chances are pretty good for Kenyon if you apply, and I would be surprised if you did not get a few of NEU, BU, Rochester, CC, Brandeis, and Vassar (and Skidmore if you apply). I like your chances for Middlebury, and I think that you are very much in the running for Amherst and Hamilton, though I’m not so sure about Swarthmore.

I am a bit more optimistic about Yale than @tsbna44 , because you have a strong set of accomplishments in writing, but it is still a long shot for anybody.


OP seems sophisticated and informed enough to understand and appreciate the value she associates with an open curriculum. Note the common theme in her list by applying to Amherst, Hamilton and Vassar.

Why are you steering OP towards a more defined curriculum? If an OC and strong English dept are priorities Brown appears to check those boxes. Not suggesting rankings are the end all but clearly Brown is as highly regarded in English and Creative writing as any school.

I have always found you to be a thoughtful poster so I am not discounting the suggestion just not sure I understand it. Thanks.

OP the legacy benefit varies by school and should not be ignored. With that said I admire your focus on fit vs leveraging your chances for an elite at the expense of fit. Good luck you are a great candidate!!

There’s pretty much not anyone in the world I would say is an in for Yale. But I said it’s great to try - because the others are in the bag - and someone is going to get in.

But who that someone is are few and far between with a sub 10% rate.

I was focusing more on the strength of the creative writing programs. I guess that, since the OP did not specify her interest in an open curriculum, I missed that common theme.

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Am I looking at the wrong surveys (I posted several above)? Brown appears at or near the top in every ranking I have been able to find for creative writing. Not suggesting the ones you mention aren’t also top schools but your comment suggest a “disparity” of strength.

Even at an MFA level Brown seems to rank highly…

Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown University

Farragutful, Quiet Green – Brown University, CC BY-SA 4.0

“One of the top institutions on any list, Brown University features an elegantly-constructed Literary Arts Program, with students choosing one workshop and one elective per semester.

The electives can be taken from any department at Brown; especially popular choices include Studio Art and other coursework through the affiliated Rhode Island School of Design. The final semester consists of thesis construction under the supervision of the candidate’s faculty advisor.

Brown is the only MFA program to feature, in addition to poetry and fiction tracks, the Digital/Cross Disciplinary track.”

For an additional perspective, this site includes Brown:

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yes, i will be listing some additional noteworthy awards, publications, and summer programs in the add’l info section. and thanks for the tip!

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to clarify, you’re right that I appreciated schools with open and/or flexible curriculums when making my list. while I’m not completely opposed to schools with stricter core requirements, it is mainly why I eliminated the other Ivies.

and yes, I have considered my legacy benefit. I originally had both of the Ivies where I’m a legacy on my list, but as I started to research the LACs, I realized that I had already a lot of reach schools, so it wasn’t worth applying to schools that I wasn’t as interested in. plus, I did visit one of my parent’s alma mater and I disliked the atmosphere. and thank you!!


I really like using the one from the Adroit Journal, since it is compiled by creative writers who are not in the college admissions business. The college admissions advisors always seem to include the college ranking system of their company/website in any list that they include.

In general, I will use ranking by professionals in the field when they are available, rather than those by colleges admission professionals. Unfortunately, few are available. For creative writing we have one available, so I prefer that one.

As for the lists you presented, the Universities. com site is by far the worst. I mean, it does not include either Kenyon nor U Iowa in their top 10, even though both have far better creative writing programs than USC or Notre Dame. They look like a classical case of trying to superimpose college “prestige” on any other ranking. Again, Notre Dame really should not be in any creative writing top-10, much less ranked #2, and in what world does New Mexico State have a better creative writing program than University of Iowa?

The Scholarshipforum list is interesting, and worth using, but they are giving graduate schools, not undergraduate. USNews is USNews - their lists are worthwhile looking at, but their fine-scale ranking is always somewhat problematic.


That appears to have last been updated April 2019. Thanks for the response.

There’s a big difference - a very big difference - between undergrad and grad CW programs. A hot CW grad program in no way guarantees a strong undergrad program. Look at the faculty, look at the work of the students, ask hard questions about how students are admitted, throw the rankings out the window. Throw the rankings out the window anyhow. You’re looking for people who understand your kind of writing and who’ll be able to understand what you’re trying to do even when you’re failing to do it. This isn’t law school, your salary isn’t dependent on rankings here.

I can’t recommend an undergrad CW program for anyone unless they’re rich and have friendly, generous parents unlikely to undergo personality changes. Don’t use college that way, and don’t mistake encouragement and praise in an undergrad program for anything but a deep-seated desire to maintain enrollments. Go learn something you can’t learn well on your own – something that involves a discipline or a profession. If you’re a writer you’re going to write anyway. It’s not hard to meet agents and the like should you want to. Just make sure that wherever you go is crummy enough that you have time to read whatever you want without tanking whatever else you’re doing. And if you’re going to ignore all that, at least don’t kid yourself into believing that you’ll have a better shot at an MFA program because you’ve done a CW BA at the same school.

Above all else: unless you’re crazy rich, don’t pay for any of this. Don’t take on debt for it. You do not need to pay for a writing program in order to learn how to write. If you’re that promising, let them pay you.

Cautionary reading for the OP: House of Mirth, Edith Wharton.


Note that the OP may not major in creative writing. She has stated an interest in other academic disciplines as well, namely anthropology, linguistics and general literature. Nonetheless, what she learns through courses in these fields, as well as in other courses selected, could support and enhance her future writing.