If your child has their sights set on an Ivy League school, chances are the stress level is running high in your house. These colleges are among the most selective, with an acceptance rate of just above 9%. That’s why students do everything they can to make themselves stand out from the competition — and why we have some tips for getting into Ivy League Colleges.
What should your child be focusing on to increase their chances?
Set a Path
Your child’s path to an Ivy League school can’t start the day they decide to apply. They need to be thinking about it well before then.
Matt Larriva, founder of Powerful Prep and an expert in test-taking and the pre-college process, tells Parentology that all highly selective schools look at four areas:
- Test scores
“All of these need to be exemplary by the time a student applies, so charting a course that involves maximizing those attributes is the best path to admission,” says Larriva.
How can your child do this?
Larriva explains that students need to establish good academic habits, nurture intellectual curiosity, and have strong extracurriculars well before their first day of high school. Once they’re in high school, having a long-term connection to a teacher who can write an amazing recommendation letter as well as having SAT or ACT scores near the 95th percentile, and having an extracurricular they excel in, will also greatly.
If your child thinks they need to fit under the “well-rounded” umbrella to be accepted into an Ivy League school, think again. “These schools are looking for well-rounded student bodies, not so much well-rounded students,” says Larriva.
So, what’s the X-factor?
Larriva says the X-factor lies with extracurricular activities. But, students don’t have to join every club, play every sport, and volunteer with every organization if they want to get into an Ivy League school. Instead, they should focus on one area and do it extraordinarily well.
Another key? Looking for unique ways to share these amazing talents.
“A more interesting candidate would find a way to pursue his passions in a way that somehow serves the broader community,” says Larriva.
For example, a computer savvy-student may want to rebuild used computers and donate them to those who don’t have access, rather than just volunteering to teach people how to use a computer. A student who leads a school club may want to invite government leaders to talk about the homelessness crisis. These are all ways that students can take their talents out of the box.
Take the Test
Due to the pandemic, many colleges have taken the testing-optional route when it comes to the SAT and ACT. Students can take the test and the scores will be accepted or they can choose not to take the tests at all. But, this may not be helping anyone when it comes to getting into an Ivy League school or any other college.
“Part of the problem is, when schools go testing optional, their applications surge but their admissions remain static,” says Larriva. Many elite schools decided to make testing-optional policies because they either wanted students who couldn’t take the test because of the pandemic to still apply and/or because they wanted to attract applications from students who couldn’t take the test because of significant difficulty or expense.
That said, students who want to get into an Ivy League school may not want to opt-out of taking standardized tests. Larriva explains that these types of schools are not the ones that are looking for students who do the bare minimum.
“Students who apply to Ivy League schools with weak or omitted test scores, though technically allowed, face worse odds of admission,” says Larriva. He adds that students who choose to omit a test score or not take the test at all should have a compelling reason for doing so.
In the end, it’s important to remember that there are many different paths to admissions that vary by student, the field of study, and school.