How do I Get Into an Ivy League College?

By far the number one question we get (financial aid is a close second) from our clients in India and across the world is how to get their child into an Ivy League school.  An interesting article in USA Today tries to answer this very question:

The eight Ivy League schools — Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale — had a total of 281, 060 applicants for the class of 2021. Of those applicants, less than 10% got admissions offers. Harvard had the lowest acceptance rate out of all the Ivies, at just 5%.

Clearly, getting into any Ivy League school is an impressive achievement. So, how do people do it?


For starters, if you want to go to an Ivy, you’re going to need stellar grades and test scores. These are the two most important admissions factors according to The National Association for College Admission Counseling. Ambitious students should take rigorous courses that they can do well in.

Grades are still the most important factor in admissions. Course rigor is also extremely important. Schools look to see if students are challenging themselves and still succeeding.

Test scores are just as important. Students who lack scores in line with Ivy standards will be sent right to the ‘no’ pile unless they have some other achievement(s) that really help them stand out or fill an institutional need for the school.

These are the GPA’s and test scores you will need in order to avoid the “no pile” throughout the Ivy League. They’re similar to what they’ve been in years past.



Logan Powell, dean of admissions at Brown University, noted that it doesn’t necessarily matter if a student is doing athletics, community service, academic clubs or anything else. What he’s looking for is why a student is choosing to do those activities and what they got out of it.

“Have they learned time management skills, leadership, teamwork, discipline? How have they grown as a person and what qualities will they bring to our campus?” he asks.

Ivy League schools are looking to admit specialists who focus on a few core interests for all four years of their high school careers.  Students should focus on what they love instead of joining a bunch of random clubs that they don’t care about because admissions readers see right through that.  In other words, be genuine.

Students who get admitted to Ivy League schools are talented and have lives outside the classroom.


Believe it or not, being nice might just be the thing that solidifies your spot at an Ivy League school.

Over the last 10 years or so, more and more universities want the students they admit to be good people who give back.

Case in point: A letter of recommendation from a high school custodian helped one student get into Dartmouth, according to a piece in the New York Times. The letter noted that the applicant was the only student who knew the names of every janitorial staff member and would help custodians with menial tasks like turning lights off in empty rooms and cleaning up after other students.

Don’t just do nice things to get into an Ivy League school, however — you should do them because you feel it’s right. The custodian who wrote that recommendation pointed out that the student would do these things when no one was watching. The key is to be genuine.


Applying this way significantly boosts your chances of getting into one of the Ivies. You only get to apply early decision for one school, though, so choose carefully. Remember if a student is accepted under ED, he or she must withdraw from all other schools and he or she is committed to attending that school.

Early action on the other hand is not binding.

According to Business Insider, the Early Decision/Action acceptance rates for the class of 2021 show how much better ED/EA applicants’ chances are:

  • Brown: 21.9% compared to 9%
  • Columbia: N/A for early decision/action; regular acceptance rate was 6.04%
  • Cornell: 25.6% compared to 12.5%
  • Dartmouth: 27.8% compared to 10.4%
  • Harvard: 14.5% compared to 5.2%
  • U Penn: 22.0% compared to 9.2%
  • Princeton: 15.4% compared to 6.1%
  • Yale: 17.1% compared to 6.9%


Powell says, “The essay is one of only two places where the student can tell us exactly who they are, in their own words (the other place is the interview).”

He advises students to write about something not found anywhere else in the application. It’s a chance to show what you’re interested in, what your passions are and what’s important to you. “Be yourself, ” Powell advises, but keep it simple, too. “In many cases, the best essays are the simplest.”


Increasingly, students whose sights are set on elite colleges use admissions consulting firms to get ahead of the competition.  We here at Stoodnt are ready to help.  100% of our students got into their top 3 colleges!!!

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