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    Top Tips for Ivy League Acceptance

    By Savannah Dawson

    Prior to coming to Scholarships360 for her first internship in 2022, Savannah utilized her campus publications by joining various fashion publications that are offered at Ohio University. One of those publications is Thread Magazine, where Savannah has had the opportunity to work on articles related to world-wide related fashion news and events, as well as articles closer to home, such as a fashion piece on Athens hometown-hero Joe Burrow. This year, Savannah also had the opportunity to be a content writing intern for Aiken House, as well as a section editor for Southeast Ohio Magazine. In 2023, Savannah served as the Chapter President of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. These collective experiences, as well as her experience currently working for Ohio University’s Undergraduate Admissions, has led her to Scholarships360 and aided in her passion for helping students better understand the college admissions process and financial aid. In her free time, Savannah enjoys horseback riding, watching Formula One races, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family. Savannah will graduate from Ohio University in May 2024 with a degree in Journalism News and Information and a certificate in Italian Studies.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: March 18th, 2024
    Top Tips for Ivy League Acceptance

    If you are someone who is interested in applying to an Ivy League school for your undergraduate studies, you may be wondering, “How do I get into Ivy League schools”? Well, you are in luck. We’ve compiled a list of various ways to help you stand out from the crowd when applying to the Ivy League universities. Let’s dig in!

    First, what is an Ivy League school?

    The Ivy League is made up of some of the oldest, most prestigious universities in the United States. All schools in the Ivy League have very low acceptance rates and very good graduation outcomes. The Ivy League, as we know it today, is a collegiate athletic conference that was founded in 1954. Known for being some of the most competitive schools in the world, many people, just like you, are on the hunt for tips on how to get in. 

    So, what are the tips for acceptance?

    This list is not going to include things like getting your ACT and SAT scores up, or working on your GPA– those things are a given when talking about the Ivy Leagues. Here are six tips for standing out on your applications and in your interviews when applying to an Ivy League school. 

    1. Grow your extracurriculars list

    The Ivies conduct a holistic review of applications when reviewing their candidates. Making sure that you have a full list of extracurricular activities that you can talk about at great lengths, and pinpointing one that you are the most passionate about can help set you apart from other candidates. 

    2. Start a unique hobby

    All of the Ivy League admissions counselors see thousands upon thousands of applicants who are super smart and have perfect test scores. So, one thing that you can do to help make you more memorable is to excel at a unique hobby. Of course, make sure that it is something that you enjoy doing, but choosing an unusual hobby that you can talk about on your application or in your interviews will show that you are more than just a student, but a person with depth. If you choose to take the path less traveled, you will catch an admissions officer’s eye!

    Related: How to complete the activities section on the Common App

    3. Apply early– as early as possible

    This should be common practice for every college or university that you are applying to, but if you want to be given first priority, it’s optimal to submit your application with the early action or early decision deadline. This deadline will be different with every school that you apply to, but make sure that you are researching this early on and make note of when each of those dates are so that they do not sneak up on you. While some students need to compare financial aid packages with regular decision college applications, the Ivy League schools are extraordinarily generous in covering financial need

    4. Letters of recommendation

    It’s common practice for many schools to require letters of recommendation, but for Ivy Leagues, they are especially important. Try to dig deeper than just asking one of your high school teachers for a recommendation. Reach out to alumni from the school that you are hoping to attend, tell them your story and send them your work (a portfolio, your resume, whatever you have!) and ask them to mentor you. More times than not, alumni want to help future students, so it does not hurt to reach out and ask them! 

    5. Take time to do practice interviews

    Interview skills are a required skill set that will never go away– at least until you are retired! You will need this knowledge for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate endeavors, so you might as well start now! Talk with your guidance counselor about doing a mock interview to help you prepare for the real deal. You can also reach out to current students, alumni, or faculty on networks like LinkedIn that may be able to help you prepare for an interview. You want to be sure that you are focusing on behavioral interview questions, because it is likely that those are the types of questions you will be asked. Some examples of those include:

    • What is your biggest professional strength?
    • What is your biggest professional weakness?
    • Tell us about a time when you failed. How did you overcome that failure and what did you do to turn it around?
    • Describe a situation where you needed to utilize teamwork to reach a common goal.

    6. Volunteer

    When looking for a well-rounded individual, one thing that the Ivy League schools rely heavily on is the volunteer work that their candidates have participated in. Start thinking about causes that you are passionate about, and dive into those. Whether you are volunteering your time or money, compile a list of the places you have volunteered and the organizations you’ve worked for. Talking about these on your application, resume, and in your interview before they ask you will make you stand out from other candidates, and let them know that you are interested in philanthropy. 

    Overcoming acceptance anxiety

    As with all colleges, waiting for your acceptance letter can be extremely stressful, no matter how confident you are in your application, materials, or interview. Applying for multiple colleges (reach schools, safety schools, and match schools) can help to alleviate some of the stress that comes with applications. Although that means you are doing more work on the application side of things, it also means that when the acceptance letters start rolling in. This way you will  have more options and a selection of competitive financial aid offers. 

    Next Steps

    Next Steps

    Next Steps

    Closing thoughts for students

    Ivy Leagues will look at each student holistically, but it is important to remember that the college admissions process is inherently biased no matter what school you attend. Admissions advisors at every school look for different things in a student. Sometimes, even those that work at the same school have a different set of attributes that they look for in the students they choose. So, try to put your best foot forward, be yourself, and be confident in your abilities. You will end up where you are meant to be!

    Additional resources

    Once you are done applying to all the schools you want to go to, it’s time to start looking into financial aid. If you want to check out some Ivy League scholarship opportunities, we have you covered. Or, if you are someone interested in earning an Ivy League education, but those eight schools do not interest you, check out our list of Ivy League Plus schools, and you may find the school of your dreams there! Good luck with the rest of your college application process–we wish you all the best! Remember, scholarships will make for a more robust financial future, so apply to all scholarships you qualify for!

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    Frequently asked questions about being accepted to the Ivy League

    What questions are asked in an Ivy League admission interview?

    The answer depends on the person interviewing you. The point is to get to know you, so you might be asked the more generic “tell me about yourself, your hopes, and your dreams…” type questions, but then again, maybe not. The best thing you can do is show up for your interview as the one and only you!

    What is the secret to getting into an Ivy League school?

      It goes without saying that competitive students have stellar grades, SATs, and impressive extracurriculars. However, we have all heard of the students who “have it all” and are ultimately rejected from Ivy League schools. The truth is an Ivy League acceptance sometimes comes down to luck!

    What is the easiest Ivy League to get into?

    First, no Ivy is “easy” to get into. The Ivy League school with the highest acceptance rate is Cornell University at 9%.

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