The Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Student In to the Ivy League
Parents want their children to do well in life, and if you have always dreamed of having your son or daughter graduate from an Ivy League college — which, to define the term “Ivy League,” refers to the eight schools that make up “The Ivies” and includes: Harvard, Princeton, Yale (the “Big Three”), as well as Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia, and Penn (The University of Pennsylvania), there are many thing you can do that will help your student succeed in the college admissions and Ivy League college admissions process, in particular.
#1. Make sure your student takes as many AP courses as possible:
College admissions officers, especially at the most competitive schools, want to see that your student is not only challenging themselves by taking the most difficult courses possible at their particular school, but they want to see that they are ALREADY fully immersed in college-level classes, before they even get to college.
In other words, if your student’s high school doesn’t currently offer any AP or IB course work, make sure they get classes at that level somewhere else (like enrolling in a community college after school).
This shows that they will be able to handle the work-load once they get in to a highly competitive school like the Ivy League. It shows they have the intellect to do well, and sometimes more importantly, can take the pressure. That kind of “proof” is what makes Ivy League admissions officers happy, and lets your high school student actually pass the test and be seriously considered. No AP or IB classes, and they aren’t even a contender. It’s that important.
#2: Make sure your student has extracurricular activities that are interesting and different:
By different, I mean something more unique than piano, violin, or swimming.
“Oh no!” you think, “but my student is taking piano, violin and swimming right now, what should I do?!”
Just reassess. These activities are fine if they’re a musical prodigy who intends to major in music, or a budding Olympic medalist or “ranked” athlete… but just in case they’re not, they need to branch out and try to expand into at least one other extracurricular activities that will make them stand out. They need to do something different than what their friends are doing. They need to show some individuality in how they spend their time. This allows them to look even more unique to the college admissions officers – again, especially when applying to an Ivy League, or “Ivy League equivalent” college like Stanford, or MIT.
Schools like to diversify their class, and they like students who have done, or are doing, incredibly interesting things. So, have them branch out! Do something different, on top of, or in addition to, the regular “smart kid” activities like classical piano, school government, or Model UN.
You don’t want to just have them do what every other smart kid does: ESPECIALLY for the Ivy League. If they don’t stand out, they won’t be seen. Again, it is that important.
#3: Let your student choose their own, real interests
Really. This one is important. Don’t push your kid to go into engineering or finance as a potential major in college if they’re sincerely telling you they just want to study Greek literature, or get a Ph.D in microbiology.
College admissions officers want to know what REALLY interests your student, again, this is especially true for the Ivy League.
What they don’t want to see is a child who’s been programmed by their parents to say something that simply sounds like a trendy thing to study right now, or with the only purpose being to set your student up for a well-paying job. The Ivy League looks for kids who are interested and curious about learning, not trying to position themselves so they can eventually make the most money possible. They want people who value intellectual curiosity.
The Ivy League schools in particular like to admit students who want to study something DIFFERENT.
Remember, they employ a lot of professors, and they need to fill those Greek classes, too. The Ivy League colleges often admit students who have a WIDE VARIETY OF INTERESTS, especially in the humanities.
These are the students who might later go on to law school, or medical school, enter a policy program in foreign relations, and/or get their Ph.D.
Again, the Ivy League colleges in particular like students who appreciate the value of a broad education — one that will leave them post-graduation with a full and solid understanding of today’s world.
In other worlds, the Ivy League is more interested in graduating students who will always be “well-educated” by anyone’s standards, and that means being able to speak on a wide variety of interests and topics at some depth.
What they are NOT interested in, are people who are simply looking at college as a way to get a job. They try to weed those “non-intellectuals” the “non-scholars” out. Those students honestly are better served by going to a state school or one of the more highly competitive science or engineering schools like Cal Tech or MIT.
#4: In summary, Ivy League colleges are for students who appreciate learning… about everything!
They are students who have a passion for new things and intellectual topics, and understand and are well-versed in a wide-variety of literary, artistic, political, and academic possibilities.
If you can encourage that mindset, your child has a chance to get in. Strong essays, high grades, good SAT scores, glowing high school recommendations, and a impressive college interview will all help complete this college admissions package, but instilling in your student a desire to learn, and to convey that attitude about learning in everything and anything as they go forth…THAT’s what Ivy League admissions officers look for the most, and that is the “secret sauce” that will help them get in!
Check out the rest of my award wining Ivy League college admissions blog for more free information, and, get my new IVY LEAGUE INTERVIEW PREP GUIDE here:
[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the Ivy League college admissions consulting firm: www.IVY COLLEGE ESSAY.com Contact me for a free consultation today, and get into the Ivy League college of your dreams!
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