The Ivy League is an athletic union of American educational institutes based in the north-east of The States including Harvard, Yale and Columbia University. Many people mistakenly believe MIT and Stanford are members of this union. While we reference these institutes in this article, they are not.
There are a series of factors that will determine your acceptance to the Ivy League or other elite institutes. Here we’ll analyse the best approach. Let’s begin with your GPA.
Of course, your GPA is a pillar of your application. But is your application a house of cards without it? Not necessarily. Why is it that some students with 4.0 GPA’s are rejected, while others with sub-3 GPA’s are accepted? Because the value of the courses you took is often of equal value to your result. Because your application needs to demonstrate extra-curricular pedigree.
Your record at school needs to display academic rigor – don’t opt for the easiest courses. A prescribed high school path featuring 4 years of the cornerstone subjects, English, Math and Science, are best complimented with 4 years dedicated to History and learning a foreign language.
That brings us on to Extra-Curriculars.
Those Darn Extra-Curriculars
Meet John. John has a 2.7 grade point average and equally unremarkable SAT results. Although John was never the best student, he excelled in sports, holding the post as captain for his Baseball, Basketball and Football teams, winning awards for his sporting ability. It’s these strengths that secured his place at Harvard. Meanwhile many thousands of students are rejected every year with outstanding academics.
Stories of a sub-3 GPA turned Harvard graduate are the exception, but there’s a moral to this tale. If two students are equal academically, universities like employers, will opt for the candidate who has held leadership roles or displayed an extra-curricular spike. Without these traits, your application will be lost.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to factor cost into attending your dream school. Fortunately, though, the world’s most prestigious schools are often in possession of the largest financial aid endowments. Consider Harvard which has a financial aid budget of $172,000,000. This aid is reserved for students whose parents are earning under $60,000 per year. The net result means the cost of attending actually matches or bests 90% of other universities. Before preparing your FAFSA application (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’ll need to know where you stand.
What About Reach Schools?
Universities with low admissions rates, including Harvard and Yale are considered ‘Reach Schools’. A ‘Match School’ is one that has a high probability of acceptance. Identifying reach schools and match schools is smart forward planning.
Perhaps your heart is set on attending Yale. You may dream of being published in Yale Law Review before one day running for Congress. Students negotiate a path towards their dreams every year. Equally there are who students fail to reach the school of their dreams without Plan B. Identify other institutes with a prestigious record of graduating the finest minds in your field.
When creating a shortlist of schools, it’s wise to assess the post-graduate success student’s are likely to experience. Let’s take MIT. While the US economy struggles and jobs are scare, MIT bucks the trend. Studies demonstrate just 20% of students find employment on graduation. MIT students however, fare better than the national average with on-campus hiring still prevalent.
The idea that your post-graduate success is purely dependent on your education, however, is mistaken. History is shaped by those who defy the rules and define their own route. Be they a Harvard reject Warren Buffet or Princeton reject Ted Turner. So, you don’t need to graduate the Ivy League to be a success… But it helps.