Getting into an Ivy League college is not just hard, it is exceptionally difficult. This does not mean however, that it is impossible.
Ivy League schools look at a student's GPA this we know but, is that all and if not, what else does one need to do?
To begin, I can not overstate the importance of a demanding program while in HS, all of HS not just junior or senior year. In addition, the ability to read, comprehend, infer, analyze, etc., traits which can place a student in strong standing academically, need to begin as early as elementary school. Please understand I am not suggesting parents need to think about how their child will do when applying to college as a senior in HS while in a primary classroom but what mom and dad can do, is to push reading, reading and more reading . Fostering a love of reading at an early age, is a sure sign of future success across the board as it develops a solid thought process and, higher level writing skills. No need to take out catalogs for Yale or Princeton while your daughter is only in fifth grade. No need to talk about college while your son is in seventh grade but, reading to them or with them every week, is the one essential, common feature of a successful student that can be nurtured throughout elementary school.
Upon entering HS with that strong love and level for and in reading, students need to engage in the most demanding classes available but, one must be sure they will do well. It does not help a student if they enroll in Honors or AP classes but obtain a C for a grade. If in a higher level course, one needs to obtain a high B with the hope of more A's to attain and maintain, a substantial overall GPA.
An Ivy League college wants to see a transcript reflecting strong rigor with good results in diverse areas (advanced classes in not only Social Studies but also in Science, English as well as Math to show one's ability to transfer skills and knowledge from one area to another). They want to see exceptionally high standardized test scores (although more and more are going test optional). They want to see outside of the classroom activities displaying leadership, team effort, commitment, diversity & involvement in summer programs offered through colleges such as Johns Hopkins. They also want to see a student's level of interest. How often have you visited the college? How often have you spoken with the admissions rep. which, reads the applications from your high school? This is called the IQ, Interest Quotient and it does, oh it does, count!
There is also the application essay to keep in mind. Students through the essay, are able to show colleges the level of interest they have in a particular school. The essay reflects past experience, can address one's leadership ability offering strong examples, it can show growth as evidenced through how they have dealt with a particular situation or, offer something funny allowing for a good laugh by the admissions rep. keeping a student's name high on their list. I had a young man write his essay a few years back, on his most important class in response to a question on the supplement from Princeton University. It was a wonderful essay speaking to his Family Development class. He spoke of what his transcript reflected, outstanding GPA, AP and High Honors classes, etc. but, that it was his Family Development class which taught him what it meant to be a parent, what it was like for his mother, what it means when a person says - no matter how old you get, you will always be a child to your parents. It was amazing and funny and yes, he was accepted!
Lastly I would suggest selecting individuals to write your letters of recommendation that can give strong examples of not only your level of ability but, how you work as part of a team, as an individual, how you accept constructive criticism, etc. You want your letters to say more than what a nice young lady you are or that you were a pleasure to have in class. Although these compliments are nice to hear, a rec. letter needs to be reassuring to the admissions rep. that you are ready for the demands of study at the college level.
Getting into an Ivy League college is not impossible but it does require planning early on and, dedication throughout your educational career.
Please see the article below for even more information!
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