If your high-achieving child aspires to attend one of the eight exclusive Ivy League schools, you know it won’t be easy. You don’t have to be an expert in college admissions or recall each school’s admissions data to realize that getting into an Ivy League school is difficult.
But it motivates your child to study hard to achieve their Ivy League dream, and you want to help them succeed—leading you here to learn how to get into Ivy League schools.
That is why, so many bright kids come to us looking for advice on how to get into Ivy League schools?
The Ivy League’s eight universities provide special benefits to their alumni. Mentorships from world-class professors who are leaders in their fields, access to cutting-edge research opportunities, and unrivaled student support are just a few of the benefits.
Not to mention, Ivy League participants form valuable peer networks that will go on to become industry leaders and titans, joining the elite Ivy League alumni group that spans the globe and presents a plethora of employment opportunities for new grads.
It’s no surprise that Ivy League colleges garner over 400,000 applicants each year because of these alluring incentives. And, with acceptance rates ranging from 3.9 percent (Columbia) to 8.7 percent (Cornell), only about 20,000 of these hopeful applicants will be accepted.
It will take dedication, hard work, and strategic preparation if you want your child to get one of these coveted spots.
While there isn’t a magic formula or a surefire way for your child to get into an Ivy League school, there are strategies that can help them improve their chances.
Continue reading to learn about the five most important admissions variables and how to get into Ivy League schools.
What is Ivy League School?
The phrase “ivy league” was coined to describe the ivy that grew abundantly in wealthy schools.
If we’re being precise, the Ivy League is an athletic conference similar to the PacWest or the Big Ten. The name came from the ivy that grew along the walls of the older, private schools in the northeast in the 1930s.
Ivy League institutions are solely distinguished by their age and location: the newest Ivy League (Cornell 1865) was created shortly after the Civil War, and all schools are in the northeastern states of the United States.
It is a prevalent misconception that Ivy League colleges are the best in the country. The Ivy League consists of eight schools:
- The University of Pennsylvania
While they all rank in the top 20 universities in the United States and around the world, this mistake leaves out MIT, Stanford, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Cal Tech, Notre Dame, Rice, Washington University in St. Louis, and UCLA, which all rank in the top 20.
Nonetheless, the intellectual cache of the phrase Ivy League is unrivaled, and a degree from any of the schools can act as a major differentiator. So, before talking about Ivy League admissions, it’s a good idea to learn more about each of the league’s schools.
Why Choose an Ivy League School?
Ivy League universities are well-known for their intellectual and social eminence in higher education.
Many students desire to know how to get into an Ivy League school in order to attend a prestigious and highly selective university.
They directly connected this set of elite universities to leaders of various social sectors, besides providing the best facilities.
Most Ivy League graduates go on to become leaders in entertainment, business, politics, and other important industries.
Because of this tendency, aspiring students from all over the world believe that attending an Ivy League institution will improve their prospects of success in life.
Unfortunately, the admissions process to these prestigious universities is so competitive that only a small percentage of applicants are accepted.
Is it Easy to get into an Ivy League School?
Many senior high school students with huge dreams aspire to attend Ivy League universities. Unfortunately, it’s no secret that getting into these valued schools in the United States is difficult.
While it is true that getting into the Ivies is challenging, some of them are simpler to get into. It’s an excellent idea to know which ones have high acceptance rates. This enables pupils to apply to Ivy League colleges where they are likely to be accepted.
So, which Ivy League school is the most straightforward to get into?
Cornell University is the easiest of the Ivies to get into, according to statistic after statistic. It has a 14.1 percent acceptance rate for 2020. For the same year, this percentage is more than double the 4.5 percent acceptance rate of Harvard University, the most difficult Ivy League school to get into.
Some people argue that the admission rate of the Ivies cannot be used to determine which of these schools is the easiest to get into.
According to them, Ivy League institutions with many candidates, such as Harvard University, will appear to have lower acceptance rates than schools with a smaller number of applicants. These guys, on the other hand, have a valid point.
However, we have no choice but to focus on their respective acceptance rates in order to determine which of these schools welcomes the most applications each academic year.
Let’s start with a little-known fact: applying early decision increases your chances of attending an Ivy League college.
Can an Average Student Get into an Ivy League School?
As previously stated, the majority of students accepted to Ivy League schools have outstanding grades. Not that students with mediocre grades can’t be admitted; it just makes it more difficult and unlikely.
To be clear, when we talk about “average grades” in the Ivy League, we’re talking about GPAs in the 3.3 to 3.7 range, which are nonetheless good on most other admissions scales.
At the end of the day, a student with a 2.8 GPA might not do anything to get into an Ivy League school (except being the child of a dean). If your child’s grades fall under this Ivy League definition of average, there are a few things you can do to boost their chances of getting into an Ivy League school:
Apply to Ivy League colleges that aren’t as selective. Cornell has the highest acceptance rate of 8.7%, which is still extremely competitive. With a 4% admission rate, kids with ordinary marks will have a higher chance of getting into Cornell than Harvard.
In the Additional Information area of the Common App, they should explain their grades. If your child has a compelling story or important explanation for their poor grades, they may choose to include it in their application.
See Also: Ivy League Medical Schools Ranking 2022
What’s the way Out?
Other aspects of their college application should stand out. Remember that grades are only one of several things that Ivy League universities consider when evaluating applications.
Your child can still be a competitive applicant with ordinary grades if they have great extracurricular activities, stellar letters of recommendation, and moving college essays.
Take into account their possibilities of transferring to an Ivy League school. While it is not a path we often urge students to take, a tiny percentage of individuals, including those from community colleges, are successful in transferring to an Ivy League midway through their undergraduate careers.
Even so, the transfer selectivity of each Ivy differs. For example, getting accepted to Cornell as a transfer student (17 percent) is a little easier than getting accepted as a freshman. Transferring to Harvard is much more difficult—less than 1% of transfer applicants are accepted.
Finally, getting high grades from a demanding course load is the greatest approach for your child to be recognized as a possible Ivy League applicant. Even then, they’ll need to stand out and show that they’re deserving of admission to an Ivy League school.
What is the Easiest Ivy League School to get into?
Based on the data presented above, you may have observed that Cornell University has the greatest acceptance rates of all the Ivy League institutions, making it the easiest Ivy League school to get into.
While admissions statistics might help you figure out how easy it is to get into a school, they aren’t the only factor to consider.
Consider the fact that only 25% of Cornell’s matriculants were in the top 10% of their graduating class, compared to 92 percent at Yale and 95 percent at Columbia. Remember that Cornell’s standardized exam scores are comparable to those of other Ivy League universities. So, can statistics give us everything we need to know?
Ivy League undergraduate admissions are tough to judge because each school professes to analyze students’ applications holistically. A comprehensive application assessment takes into account a wide variety of a student’s achievements and circumstances.
This permits admissions committees to look at your candidacy as a whole rather than focusing on just one aspect of it. The deletion of GPA statistics for Brown’s applications is a notable example of this theory.
The college stated that it does not calculate its students’ GPAs and instead evaluates them based on coursework, course performance reports, and letters of recommendation.
As you may have seen, most Ivy League schools do not have precise GPA or standardized test score criteria – this is to emphasize that no ONE application component is more important than the others.
Don’t be fooled:
Each of these colleges has its own set of requirements for applicants. Academic performance in high school is still the most important element in first-year admissions decisions, according to the newest data from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
The majority of schools considers high school and college the most crucial markers of a student’s candidacy, including members of the Ivy League. Yale University is “above all an academic institution,” according to its website.
This unavoidably means that Ivy League admissions boards will place a premium on students’ academic ability and accomplishment. Remember that the strength of a student’s curriculum is also taken into account when determining academic performance – the difficulty level of your courses will be assessed.
Standardized tests are also beneficial since they summarize what the student has learnt over time. Test scores, according to the NACAC, are less important than academic performance, but they play a significant role in decision-making.
Essay and writing examples, teacher and counselor recommendations, and the student’s interests and extracurricular are all key considerations. Read personal statement for college examples to gain ideas for your own applications before you write your essay.
Consider how uncompromising Ivy League institutions will be in their candidate selections if all schools consider these qualities crucial in their admissions processes.
These institutions place a higher priority on these qualities because of their very exclusive admissions procedure. They place a greater emphasis on grades and college preparation courses; they pay closer attention to your essay and writing sample; and they will undoubtedly scrutinize your reference letters and extracurricular activities.
You must not provide any justification for admissions committees to eliminate you from the applicant pool.
What GPA Do You Need for an Ivy League School?
According to a survey by the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, a student’s high school GPA remains the most important admissions factor for universities.
Ivy League schools have the luxury of accepting the best of the best, with over 400,000 candidates to pick from.
What is the minimum GPA required for admission to an Ivy League school?
Some Ivy League schools refuse to divulge their accepted students’ average GPAs, but those that report the average weighted GPA for admitted students is approximately 4.0.
This suggests that most kids who get into Ivy League institutions received mostly A’s in high school, with the occasional A- or B+ thrown in for good measure.
Because most students applying to Ivies have such high GPAs, attaining all (or almost all) A’s in high school will not be enough to ensure your child’s admittance.
However, we still recommend it as a first step in applying to Ivy League universities because it will put your child on an equal footing with other top students.
10 Steps to Getting into an Ivy League College
1. Make sure you’re getting decent marks and Test Results
If you want to attend an Ivy League institution, you’ll need to have exceptional grades and exam scores. These are the two most crucial qualities for a student attempting to get into a highly selective university, according to The National Association for College Admission Counseling. It is also vital for them to enroll in lengthy courses in which they can excel.
The rigor of the course is crucial. It allows schools to see if pupils are eager to take on additional problems and if they are excelling despite them. Furthermore, those who do not meet Ivy League requirements will not be accepted unless they have other accomplishments or accomplishments that distinguish them.
The average test scores, as well as the average SAT and ACT scores for all Ivy League colleges, are shown in the table below.
To avoid being placed in the “no pile” at the Ivies, you must achieve particular test scores and GPAs. It is not enough to have a high GPA or good SAT, ACT, or other types of standardized test scores to get into an Ivy League university. They have denied even very educated kids with a high SAT score admission to their preferred university.
You must demonstrate that you are not only intelligent but also unique—this will help the college admissions committee discover your potential.
2. Improve Your Grades
The most important evidence of your academic talents is your high school homework. Your high school transcript is the single most crucial document in your application.
It not only informs the admissions committee about your academic performance over time, but it also exhibits your motivation, dedication, and growth through time. Impress the adcoms by taking a variety of challenging courses you enjoy and are interested in.
Take classes in a variety of subjects, such as sciences, arts, humanities, and languages. Take courses in subjects that you generally excel in to boost your chances of success, but don’t forget to finish all the required criteria for graduation.
If you’re having trouble with discipline, seek help. You can find a study buddy, contact your teacher for help, hire a tutor, or create a study plan to help you better understand the material.
Take advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate (IP) classes if you have the opportunity. Courses and educational programs of this nature are usually more demanding and renowned. Graduates of the AP and IB programs have a good academic reputation.
Having AP or IB classes on your transcripts can help you stand out. Successful completion of these courses demonstrates your commitment and motivation to pursue the most challenging and rigorous education accessible during high school.
Furthermore, many of these courses immediately award college credit or replace other courses, allowing you to begin your undergraduate studies with higher-level college courses.
3. Plan for Early Action/Early Decision Programs
It’s easy to say “plan ahead,” but knowing what school and program you want to attend in the future has a lot of benefits. If you know exactly the school you want to attend, you should apply through the Early Action/Early Decision program.
Your application deadline will be earlier, but your response date will be later. To take advantage of this chance, do some research on your preferred institution and see if you’re a good fit for the program you’re applying to.
Early Action programs provide you with an early indication of your admissions status. Cornell’s early decision acceptance rate is 22.7 percent, according to the most recent data! The early decision program at UPenn accepted 18% of early applicants! Similar patterns can be seen among other Ivy League members.
The problem is that early decision programs limit your applications to other colleges; you can only apply to one school through an early decision program.
If accepted, early decision applicants are contractually obligated to attend the institution.
This is to ensure that you make a commitment to a first-choice institution and that if accepted, you will enroll immediately and withdraw all other applications.
4. Try not to be late and submit your application as soon as possible
By submitting your application in this manner, you greatly increase your chances of being accepted into one of the Ivy League elite universities.
However, keep in mind that you can only apply early decision to one university, so make your decision carefully. Make sure you only apply ahead of time if you are certain about the university you want to attend.
If they accept you via the early decision (ED) program, you must withdraw from any other schools to which you have applied. You must also be completely dedicated to attending that university.
Students also have the option of taking early action (EA), which is not as binding as ED. According to Business Insider, the early action/decision overall admission rate for the class of 2021 was as high as 27.8%.
5. Make sure you’re ready for Standardized Tests
Attempt to plan ahead for your exam scores. SAT or ACT tests are usually taken in the second half of your junior year, i.e. grade 11.
Decide if you want to take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Testing (ACT) before you study (ACT). Although most schools accept them interchangeably, the two tests are not the same.
Both exams, for example, assess your understanding of high school arithmetic, but the ACT includes significantly more geometry and trigonometry problems, as well as a greater number of mathematical questions.
The SAT provides mathematical formulas to students taking the exam, but the ACT requires students to memorize the formulas.
Also, the ACT allows you to use a calculator throughout the math exam, whereas the SAT does not allow you to use a calculator throughout the math component. The SAT does not have a scientific component, whereas the ACT does.
What’s the Big Deal?
Taking SAT and ACT practice tests is the greatest method to figure out which test is perfect for you.
After you’ve completed the practice tests, you can choose which test you want to take and begin organizing your study approach. If you begin studying too soon, you risk forgetting everything you’ve learned and burned out.
However, don’t wait until the last minute to study; you’ll need plenty of time to prepare. You must improve your critical reading and thinking skills, as well as your language, arithmetic, and scientific knowledge if you are taking the ACT exam.
6. Create an Outstanding Personal Statement
In order to get into the Ivies, you’ll need to write personal statements. You’ll almost certainly be applying to the Ivy League through the Common Application, so you’ll need a compelling personal statement to stand out among the hundreds of thousands of other ambitious and intelligent students.
Personal statements with grammatical faults or that focus on a cliché theme will not get you into the acceptance pile.
Recognize that your essay does not need to be about something remarkable. There’s no need for ground-breaking stories to get people to pay attention to your writing. Simply pick a topic that is meaningful to you and write an essay that is both self-reflective and thoughtful.
7. In your Extracurricular Activities, show true depth.
Hundreds of activities could be considered extracurricular, but the truth is that any of them can help your college application stand out if you have shown genuine enthusiasm and depth in that activity. It’s worth emphasizing that they can transform any activity into something really awe-inspiring if approached with appropriate vigor and dedication.
Consider extracurricular activities in terms of depth rather than breadth. Consider a student who participates in a school play one year, tries out for the yearbook the next, joins the tennis club the following year, and then spends his final year as a member of Academic All-Stars.
He will appear to be a dabbler who lacks a solid area of competence or a distinct interest, rather than an amazing student with so many skills.
While the student has participated in positive activities, they do not make up a winning mix for admission to an Ivy League college.
Consider an applicant who is a member of the school’s symphonic band, on the other hand. She was a member of the pep band, concert band, and marching band during her four years in high school.
This pupil gives the impression of being enthusiastic about her musical instrument. As a result, college admissions officers will believe she is capable of sharing her level of enthusiasm and interest with the rest of the campus community.
8. Make a fantastic Letter of Recommendation.
Ivy League institutions require exceptional letters of recommendation. Member schools usually require two of your instructors’ endorsement letters. A letter from your school’s counselor may be accepted as an addition to your application, but it cannot replace a teacher’s reference.
The greatest letters come from teachers who are familiar with you and have seen you succeed in their classes. You do not need to submit a letter from a teacher in your field of study. Most importantly, your authors must be able to talk from personal experience about your successes and virtues.
Instructors from your junior and senior years should write the letters, as these are the most recent and intellectually challenging years. There are no hard and fast rules on who should write your letter.
A letter from an algebra teacher and a letter from a physics teacher, on the other hand, are acceptable. Similarly, an English instructor and a World Religions teacher can each write you a letter.
Inquire about recommendation letters ahead of time. Allow at least two months for your authors to reflect on their accomplishments and performance in class.
Provide supporting resources to your recommenders, such as your grades from past courses, a CV, a description of your volunteer and job activities, any awards and other achievements you may have, and be ready to answer questions from the referee, such as why you are applying to that school.
9. Develop a well-considered High School Curriculum
The most significant part of your Ivy League application is your high school transcript. Students must generally take the most difficult classes offered in order to persuade admissions officers that they are capable of handling a wide range of college courses.
Consider the following scenario: You must select between A) business statistics and B) AP Calculus. Option B is the best choice. If Calculus AB is superior to Calculus BC, take the more spectacular option. If you’re unsure whether or not you should study a foreign language in your senior year, go ahead and do it if you believe you’ll be able to succeed in these classes.
On the academic front, it’s also prudent to have a realistic perspective. Don’t worry about taking seven AP courses in your junior year; the Ivies will not demand you to do so. Trying too hard to do so much will most likely result in burnout or, worse, poor grades.
The important academic disciplines of language, science, math, and English should be your primary concentration. If you want a better chance of getting into the Ivies, make sure you succeed in these areas.
While AP classes such as AP Music Theory, AP Statistics, and AP Psychology are acceptable if your school provides them, they do not carry the same weight as core courses such as AB Biology and AP Literature.
In addition, the Ivies realize that some kids have more academic chances than others. Admissions officers at the Ivies will take your situation into account if you attend a rural school with minimal prospects for academic performance.
When the admissions office evaluates your readiness for higher education, a letter of recommendation and measures such as your ACT and SAT scores will be more essential.
10. Perform admirably in your interview
Prepare to be interviewed by a current or former student at the university to which you are applying. Although the interview is not the most crucial aspect of your college application, it does have a bearing on whether you are admitted or rejected by the University of your choice.
For example, failing to respond to inquiries about your passions and interests as a student, as well as your reasons for going to the university, can jeopardize your college application.
When replying to queries, always be pleasant and courteous. In general, Ivy League interviews are amicable interactions in which your interviewer tries to learn more about you.
You’ve probably seen news headlines about smart students being accepted to multiple Ivies each year. The media loves to shine a spotlight on these people, and there’s no doubting that their achievements are remarkable.
It’s important to note, however, that Ivy League colleges are not for everyone. Each of the eight is distinct in its own way, and not every applicant will be a good fit for all of them. A student who thrives in a bustling city would struggle to thrive in Cornell’s rural setting.
While it’s necessary to continually shoot for the stars and dream big, it’s also crucial to set realistic goals for yourself. There are hundreds of colleges that can provide admitted students with a superior education than the Ivies.
Many of these schools, such as “Public Ivy” universities, are also more accessible and have cheaper tuition fees, especially since the Ivies do not provide merit-based financial aid to applicants (only need-based aid).
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right school for you. There is no magic secret or simple formula to get you there, but following the above advice will almost certainly boost your chances of receiving an Ivy League acceptance letter.
Will attending an Ivy League institution improve my chances of being accepted to graduate school?
If you have strong grades and outstanding reference letters from your alma mater, graduating from an Ivy League institution will undoubtedly increase your profile. It doesn’t hurt to include these colleges on your transcript because they are symbols of academic achievement and prestige. Do not believe that attending an Ivy League institution ensures entrance into an MD or MBA program; graduate school admissions are based on your achievements, experiences, appropriateness, and personality.
Ivy League schools, in many ways, perpetuate their own reputation. True, their programs are of high quality, and their instructors are top-notch, but they aren’t the only institutions in the world that offer top-notch education. It’s important to keep in mind that Ivy League colleges might be “cliquey.” Every Ivy League school has a number of matriculants who are descendants of those schools’ graduates. While it is unlikely to hurt your chances if you submit a strong application, it does raise questions about Ivy League nepotism. Remember to pick a school that you like and a program that you want to attend. If one of the Ivy Leagues offers a curriculum and subject that you are interested in, do not hesitate to apply.
Do Ivy League colleges provide financial aid to their students?
They do, in fact. All Ivy League schools provide financial aid to students depending on their financial circumstances.
Do Ivy League colleges demand interviews?
The interview is not a prerequisite at any Ivy League school. Interviews are optional, but if you do decide to schedule one, be prepared to be judged. It’s a good idea to do some preliminary research on the school and make a list of questions to ask. The admissions committee will hear about your interview from whoever you talk with. You will have the opportunity to talk with a member of your admissions committee or an alumni representative if you schedule an interview with the school of your choosing. Both of these sources of knowledge can be extremely useful to you.
Can I take the SAT and the ACT at the same time?
You absolutely have the option of taking both the SAT and the ACT. It’s important to note that no school will compel you to take both tests. There are certain advantages to taking both tests, like as increased chances of success, more test dates to pick from, and the ability to submit more material to the schools. The need for additional preparation, the added worry of taking a test, and additional fees are among the disadvantages. The SAT is $52 without the essay component and $68 with it. The ACT test has the same prices as the SAT.
Which Ivy League school is the most difficult to get into?
Harvard University has the lowest admissions rates in the country, which means you have the lowest statistical chance of being accepted.
Is it possible for Canadian or international students to attend Ivy League schools?
Yes, students from Canada and around the world are allowed to apply. If English is not your first language, you will need to pass a language competency test. You must meet all additional prerequisites, including taking the SAT or ACT.