How hard is it to get into MIT/Ivy?

If you have a 1500+ PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship), 1550+ SAT, 3.9+ GPA, and have taken many honors/advanced courses, AP Math and Science Exams and done well (get a 5) on them such as AP Stats, AP Calc BC, AP Physics C Mechanics and E and M, AP Bio, and AP Chemistry, do you have a higher chance of getting into Ivy League Colleges?! If you also have a strong music background (piano and violin) and do some major science competitions such as ISEF, Breakthrough Junior Challenge, Science Olympiad, and Science Bowl, will it increase you chances even higher?!

Since GPA, class rigor, ECs, and awards are all very important for these colleges when considering an applicant, then yes, of course.

However, even with all of those, you are more likely to be rejected by any of those colleges than you are to be accepted, and by a very large margin. Only 6% of all applicants to MIT are accepted, and at least 1/3 of all of those applicants have profiles which include everything on your list.

You are describing someone who is probably typical of the students accepted at these top schools, but you are also describing someone is is typical of the vast majority of the applicants who are rejected at these top schools.

Stanford sends out a magazine to alumni. A few years back they had an article that discussed admissions. It said that they figure that 80% of their applicants are academically fully qualified to attend Stanford. They accept less than 5%.

If you want to apply to highly selective universities, then go ahead and apply. However, make sure that you (i) Also apply to at least two good safety schools; (ii) Keep your finances in mind; (iii) Make sure that before applying to highly selective schools you understand the differences between them, and understand which schools would be a good fit for you.

The applicant you described could be a competitive applicant at any college. The rest will depend on things we can’t see such as essays, LORs, depth of EC accomplishments etc.

Be aware that any elite college (with acceptance rates often in the single digits) should be considered a reach for any unhooked applicant.

Be sure to take the time to search out a group of match and safety schools that appear affordable (run net price calculators) and that you would be excited to attend.

My friend made Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cal Tech, Stanford and did not make MIT. He had 1600 and perfect GPA…one of a kind person…super intelligent. So at that level no one can predict.

I agree with the above - those metrics put you into the pool of candidates to be seriously considered, but even among that pool it’s probably 12-15 that are accepted.

So “higher” than students with lesser metrics? Yes?
“High”? No.

The bank account always wins no matter how convincing the argument.

No idea what this is supposed to mean.

What about published research, how much would that help?

The answers don’t change if you have published research.

A lot of the kids admitted will be ED admits (athletes, legacies, URM, etc…), so RD is even more difficult. And given the diversity of those colleges, they will be looking at things that might be totally beyond your control. They want to admit students from Arkansas, URM, first gen to college, low SES, and around 10% international students too. Hopefully this gives you a better idea of just how selective these schools really are.

If you are an unhooked student with great stats and ECs, I actually think your chances could be a little lower than published acceptance rates, simply because by the time you account for all the above mentioned groups, there are precious few spots for unhooked kids.

Hi Coolguy40:
Can you explain how this pertains to an application to MIT?

Thank you.

Do you have a sustained interest that clearly demonstrates a passion/talent that has been recognized in a significant way in or outside of school? Will faculty/recommenders gush about you? Have you made an extraordinary contribution that is noteworthy? The attributes you mentioned are gateways to be considered but then you have to something else above and beyond.

MIT does not have ED, they have EA, and admission rates for EA and RD are about the same.

Also, MIT emphatically does not do legacy.

It does not.
MIT is one of the very few schools that are need blind for all their applicants (including internationals).


You tagged all the HYPSM colleges so that’s clearly your target. As others have said, your stats represent the norm among most applicants to those schools, so you need something extra.

Because of the circles my son moved in, I know roughly 50-60 students that were admitted to at least one HYPSM this last year, and of course others that applied but didn’t get in. Most were unhooked, as I assume you are, and almost everyone who was unhooked and accepted to those colleges had something exceptional about them.

By that I mean the science kids didn’t just participate in a science fair, but they won national recognition in a science fair. The math kids made USAMO or better. The piano players went to Carnegie Hall. And the artists and poets won gold medals at Scholastic Art and Writing. You get the picture.

Do kids get in without these accomplishments? Of course, and you are welcome to apply to those colleges. But without those accomplishments you might be better served aiming at an ED school that is just a bit lower in the rankings but still provides an excellent recommendation and a set of intellectual peers. Possible candidates include places like Vanderbilt, Rice, and Wash U.

I disagree with this, as most of those students I know that were accepted had research as their spike. Obviously it matters how strong the research is and where it gets published. But research can get recognized even before getting published. A professor at a top-40 college reached out to my son right after he posted on, almost a full year before that article was published.

@hebegebe I will disagree with you. Most unhooked students who are accepted to the most popular colleges do not have such awards, though, kids with such awards have much higher admissions rates.

It’s just math. There are simply too few of the truly exceptional students to take up more than 20% of all admissions to the most popular colleges, and they can be found across many other colleges as well. Moreover, most of these national awards are for STEM fields, and except perhaps MIT, none of the rest of these colleges are looking to have 80% of their unhooked students be STEM majors.

On top of that, in engineering, only Stanford and MIT are in the very top colleges, so many of these award winners are not looking to attend Harvard or Yale, but rather CMU, Berkeley, UIUC, GTech, etc.

I have known a good number of unhooked students who did not have such awards or achievements who were accepted to these colleges with very low acceptance rates.

A word about the remainder of the educational world:

Open your eyes and look around. There are a wide range of exciting opportunities for bright and highly motivated students. Opportunities abound at MANY outstanding universities and colleges. Use your skills to define your motivation and interests.

Make it a project and go for it. Do not get lost in name recognition. Aside from name recognition, what are you looking for? If you can answer that question you will learn a great deal about yourself.

Leaders do not just follow!