I'm Interested in Attending an Ivy League College...Placement Statistics?

I was trying to get information on which site has more accurate data - PolarisList or IvyLeagueFeeders? From what I have heard from peers, the PolarisList data is much less accurate than the IvyLeagueFeeders data. Also, what ISEE and PSAT scores are required for top boarding schools like Milton Academy and Phillips Academy - Andover? I’m looking to stay in Massachusetts.


Why are you interested in “attending an Ivy League college”? They are all different. If you are interested in quality, or even if you are interested in prestige, there are many other options and it also helps to learn more about each school in the Ivy League.

The fine points of data that you are researching are not that useful, in my view. Are you trying to assess which Ivy League school is easiest to get into? Focus on fit.


It appears that the OP is seeking a preparatory school that will heighten their chances of admission to Ivy League colleges in general.

Okay I get it. Assessing which prep schools have the highest admit rate to Ivy League schools.

Same advice: pick a prep school that is a good fit in terms of cost, size, location, academics and EC’s and “vibe.” When the time comes, learn more about each Ivy and especially learn about other schools. Again focus on “fit.”

If financial aid is a concern, that is one very good reason to focus on Ivies with generous aid.


If you expect to be a recruited athlete, choose the school that will best allow you to pursue your sport at a high level. That may mean being a day student.

If you are not, choose the one that will allow you to be your best self. Think about how you learn. Think about what you do outside the classroom. Where do you feel like the other students are “your tribe”? What is the best fit?

None of these schools have an inside track with any college. Nor will being an outstanding student at a “lesser” BS preclude admission to even the most selective school.


Bear in mind that a reputation for being an “ivy league feeder” includes a lot of factors … including the kids a school chooses to admit in the first place. It’s not necessarily the school making the difference… See advice above. It’s good.


Also, many applicants from boarding schools are legacies. Some are fac brats. Matriculation data does not give the complete picture.

If you are making a list of potential secondary schools based on its track record with certain colleges, you are engaging in an exercise in futility.


Choose a high school where you can thrive as a person and a student. Ivy League matriculation stats are often unreliable as they include recruited athletes, legacies, donor kids and other “hooked” applicants – if that isn’t you then your actual chances of admission are going to be less. In any case, although a high number of kids from these fantastic schools go Ivy the majority do not. In my view it isn’t a good reason to pick a high school.


A majority of Harvard students in the class of 2021 went to public school.

  • 60.3 percent of respondents went to a non-charter public school, 35.7 percent went to a private school, and 3.2 percent went to a charter school. Less than 1 percent of surveyed students said that they had been homeschooled.

Not true for legacies:

  • 58.7 percent of surveyed legacy students attended a private school, whereas 40 percent came from public school.

The Harvard Crimson | Class of 2021 By the Numbers (thecrimson.com)

I once read that given a choice between a well-prepared (selective )prep school student and a well-prepared student in a public school in an underserved community (similar stats and EC’s), Harvard would admit the latter, because the opportunity would offer more benefit to that student than the prep school student.


For context only approximately 10% of HS students attend private schools.


Also, even at the “feeder” BSs, not everybody gets into the “Ivy League”. You still have to stand out, just from a more selective, more motivated group. The acceptance rate from Andover is estimated at 1/3.

And, as you have a very, very long way to go, stop getting advice from your “peers”. Definitionally none of them have been through the college admissions process and none of them have actually gone to college. They are (and will be, all the way through) doing just what you are doing: cobbling together factoids and hearsay from friends, family and the internet and trying to make sense of it.

If you want advice from an actual expert in admissions to super-selective universities, read this from an admissions dean at MIT. You won’t like it, and you most likely will prefer to believe that there is a magic ticket somewhere if you just [get into the right prep school][excel in the right sport][do X other thing], but from somebody who has been through many admissions cycles now, this is the most useful piece of advice going:

In all of life, including college admissions, you have to run your own race.


People don’t want to believe this, but for the unhooked kid, the top 50-ish boarding schools will all do you just fine college-wise. The Ivies (and all colleges) admit people, not schools. The days of feeder schools is over.

Go to a boarding school for boarding school’s sake, because it is what you want from a high school experience - not because it will theoretically be your best shot at an Ivy. More specifically, apply to boarding schools that match your interests and priorities. There is a lot of variety out there. You pick (and get into) a school that feeds your soul, college applications will take care of themselves. That soul-feeding school could be your local public.


Also known as a :unicorn:

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It’s been my experience that the top BSs have a LOT of Ivy legacy students. This creates two problems for you. 1) it skews the data. You have no idea why x number of kids from Andover got into Harvard. 2) you would be competing with those kids for both simple spots and the support of college counseling for admission to those ivys. On top of that BSs work very hard to place their first gen college students well. On top of that there are a few recruited athletes at every top BS.

Then there’s the issue of how do you know you’ll be a top student at whatever BS you choose? Many kids go in thinking they’ll be top of the heap. 90% of them in every class are wrong.

If after all that you still want to go to BS I think it can be a great experience but it isn’t necessarily going to get you into an Ivy. What is the school you currently attend like? If it’s a good school and you’re top of your class that’s probably a safer bet.


Caution! Unrealistic expectations on the track!
Nothing personal, but this is a timely opportunity to remind eager applicants that Ivy expectations should not factor in your decision to go to boarding school - Or to a particular school.

When i scroll through our school’s matriculation lists from the 1940’s -1960’s - there are trends to the Ivy schools or little Ivies. Back in those days, most of the boarding schools were also single gender.

Today, I would wager a crew jacket that the Naviance Ivy scatter plots from many of the BS’s would have a kind of bi-modal distribution. A big bump on the left and one at the far right. At least at our school, I can surmise that many (not all) of our Ivy placements on the left are those gifted recruited athletes who might not have the highest SAT scores/GPA’s. Whoa - yes, I went there. I don’t even think being a legacy helps that much anymore. In fact, some colleges flat out announce it.

I would love to know where some of the students/parents are getting this information - could it be from consultants? Is this view more common among international students?

Back to my expectations comment (above). Both students and parents should examine their respective expectations for the boarding school experience while applying - not after you get in. This will dictate many things - choice of best fit school, realistic goals, and overall happiness down the road….even when applying to colleges.

I have played Powerball every week since Kiddo sent in the fist application, I will let you all know if I win….feel like that is more of a sure thing than getting into an Ivy from a boarding school in 2022.


Mostly agree! I know the rough numbers for my daughter’s small private college prep HS for the last few years. It is the kind of school that has traditionally had excellent college matriculations (and still does) and is seen as similar in intellectual quality to some of the boarding schools often mentioned here. From my daughter’s HS class, only legacies were admitted to Harvard. These students were also fabulous students; legacies who were not strong students were not admitted. Taking a step back to include Yale, Brown, Columbia, only about 1 kid per year matriculated to those schools who was NOT a recruited athlete/legacy/URM. They were also all extremely good students. This pattern does not hold for Penn/Cornell/ Dartmouth which all accepted a couple non-legacy etc. per year. Nevertheless, it is clear to me that a much higher proportion of my daughter’s school’s graduates used to matriculate to ivy league schools, maybe 10 years ago. Now the truly excellent students who are NOT recruited athletes or legacies tend to go to largish numbers to UChicago/Duke/Northwestern and LAC’s Amherst/ Swarthmore etc. A few go to MIT/Caltech and UC Berkeley. FWIW, my daughter was pretty mystified and annoyed with the cultural obsession with the ivy league; she truly didn’t get what it is all about. That was helpful for her college season!


So basically, that’s a HUGE fraction of private school students - 3 times more likely for private school students to attend Harvard than public school students?


If the Ivy League is your desire
Don’t get stuck in the BS mire.
Work on yourself
And not the school
Don’t be snobby
And don’t be a fool.

Invest in yourself
Wherever you go
Play a sport if you can
You reap what you sow.

If you apply from a top school
A HADES of like
You’ll have lots of competition
So be “pointy” as a spike!

At boarding schools there are many
Students who rate
Find the best fit, not status
Or you’ll be on a 4 year bad date!


Yup, I just looked it up out of curiosity and posted the statistic from the website, I will say though, that progress is being made in terms of “equity, diversity and inclusion” but kind of slowly. At this point private schools/boarding schools are also focused on socioeconomic diversity so the stats on boarding or private school students at Harvard may no longer entirely reflect a wealthy, white, high income population.


Yes, @compmom! The book “privileged poor” focuses on low SES students at elites who had the benefit of BS education. Spoiler alert: it set them up well for both the social and academic environments of these schools.

Elite schools, like Harvard, can find plenty of kids at BS who are not wealthy and who have been prepared to succeed at their institutions. In fact, low SES kids who are truly exceptional (rather than average excellent) are, with luck, noticed by someone and encouraged to apply to these BS directly or to a program that works to place them in BS.

Which is all to say, don’t assume because kids are coming from private schools that they are rich. They may have had no public alternative and the good fortune to end up at a private on scholarship.
I have met Questbridge finalists at BS…