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Why Ivy League's don't choose me

I've been wondering for a while about Ivy League schools and what their biggest turn off is when it comes to applications. Whether it's low grades or not enough extra curricular activities, I'm not sure.

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Subject: Career question for you

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Hope’s Answer

Hi Anita M.,


Getting into an Ivy League school is extremely competitive. Most applicants will have similar backgrounds: excellent grades, challenging coursework, numerous extracurricular activities, etc.; so how can these schools decide then who they should admit? Is there something you can do that makes you stand out from the crowd? While it is good to be involved with a lot of activities, is there one that is your passion? Are you active in your community, being a super volunteer for a cause that has personal meaning to you? Maybe you even started your own business - have a craft that you sell online. These are just examples and as you can see they don't all have to be school-related. If you search your own interests and activities I am sure you can find at least one thing that you are already doing that makes you exceptional.

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M. Lavern’s Answer

colleges look at on your application: your grades. There’s no getting around it, grades are the most important determinant of college acceptance. So, if you don’t have straight As, are you done for? Not necessarily. In general, you need to take as many AP (Advanced Placement) and/or IB (International Baccalaureate) classes as you can, depending on what program is offered at your school. These classes not only help you stand out from other applicants, they also are the classes that will best prepare you for the work load you will face when you actually get into college. Ivy League schools aren’t just interested in kids who are smart. They want kids who are smart AND hard working, kids who are willing to jump through hoops and bend over backwards in order to be successful. You have to remember that the goal of these schools is to turn out as many successful individuals to serve as an representative of their school for future student that may come after you. You can do this! stay consistent in your studies.

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Rachel’s Answer

<span style="background-color: transparent;">Collegeboard.org is a great resource for this! I poured through the pages of universities all over the U.S. when I was a senior in high school. Collegeboard was my go-to site! They put all of the information in one place and it is very easy to use. They even have various filters you can apply to see only colleges that have programs you are interested. To determine academic rigor, look at the admissions requirements, G.P.A. of past admitted applicants, SAT/ACT scores, class rank etc. This will give you an idea of what scores and grades you need to be accepted. However, don't be discouraged your application will be reviewed based on the full picture! College-board will help you get an idea of what is most important to the specific school you are applying to.</span>


This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Chat with your Guidance Counselor</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Create a Collegeboard.org account</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Start using CollegeBoard as a resource to look up schools.</span>


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Taylor’s Answer

In rank order:


1.) Grades / Test Scores
2.) Schoolwork (what kind of courses are you taking and what's their rigor)
3.) Extracurricular Activities / Competitions / Research / Essays


The order is definitely up for debate depending on the school. If you think about college applications from an admission's perspective, they want the most diverse student body they can get. The Ivies aren't just looking for a bunch of math whizzes and pre-med students, they want a student body that consists of everything from students interested in humanities to engineers. In all honestly, its all a tossup when admissions decide which students get in and what don't. Admission officers can read through 50 - 100 applications a day! Think about that, 50 -100 profiles complete with grades, essays, extracurricular activities, and projects. Its overwhelming for any person to read that many essays and compare students especially if they are passionate about different subjects (how do you compare a business student to an engineering one? Which one is "better"?).


In all honestly, the best thing to do is just really show your passion through your application and let the chips fall into place. I wouldn't be discouraged at all if you weren't accepted into an Ivy school. Success is not determined by where you go to school, its your own perseverance and work ethic that matters. Good luck and keep your head high!

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