The Ivy League was established in 1954 as an athletic conference in the Northeastern United States. However, now the term Ivy League now indicates prestige and selectivity, referring to the eight elite colleges in the U.S., including Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.
Highly selective and competitive admission processes and low acceptance rates set the Ivy League college application process apart. Aside from other highly acclaimed colleges such as Duke, MIT, and Stanford, League Schools are the most highly regarded institutions of higher learning worldwide, promising career opportunities for those who attend.
Benefits of Attending Ivy League Schools
Attending an Ivy League Institute comes with its benefits, not only featuring the greatest prestige and name recognition but also promising future careers through solid networks. A selective school can translate into networking and career opportunities after graduation. Ivies offer their students an alumni database that they can use to help find their desired internships. Ivies also provide salary benefits after graduation. Statistically, Ivy League graduates report higher earnings than other professionals. Research also shows that Ivy League graduates take significant leadership roles in the corporate and political worlds. Even though low admissions scare some, low acceptance rates also often correlate with high graduation rates. Many of the Ivies report graduation rates of over 90%.
Acceptance Rates of Ivy League Schools
College acceptance rates are a ratio of the total applicants to admitted students, reflecting the school's selectivity. Colleges with lower than 10 percent acceptance rates are considered highly selective and usually have thousands of applicants competing for limited spots.
The Ivies have always been hard to get into. However, with the rise of Covid-19 in the past years, gaining admission into the League schools is now even harder. As taking standardized tests got more complex with the pandemic, many U.S. colleges made SAT or ACT scores optional, increasing the number of applications tremendously. This decreasing acceptance rate trend in Ivy league schools is mainly due to more applicants, rather than Ivies accepting fewer students per year. Let's take a look at the acceptance details of Harvard and Cornell, each with the lowest and highest admission rates.
Harvard (Ivy league with the lowest admission rate)
Harvard (with a 4.6% acceptance rate) was the most selective Ivy in the 2021-2022 admissions cycle and ranks #1 most challenging Ivy League to get into. Harvard University is also the oldest Ivy around as well as one of the oldest higher education institutions in America. It was founded in 1636, nearly 400 years ago. It is centrally located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near other prestigious universities like MIT, Boston University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northeastern University, and Tufts University.
In the 2022 admission cycle, a score of 1480 placed admitted students in the 25th percentile, while a score of 1580 placed them in the 75th percentile showing how Harvard holds its students to high standards when it comes to academics. To explore more about Harvard's admission statistics, you can visit here.
Cornell (Ivy league with the highest admission rate)
The Ivy with the highest acceptance rate is Cornell, with a 10.3% undergraduate acceptance rate overall in 2021-2022, making it the "easiest" Ivy League to get into. While it is considered easier compared to other Ivies, statistically speaking, admissions are still challenging and competitive. To explore more about Cornell's admission statistics, you can visit here.
Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell offers over 4,000 courses through its seven undergraduate schools. The 2,300-acre campus is filled with green space and natural beauty. Unlike other Ivies, Cornell requires students to apply directly to one of their eight undergraduate colleges. You can visit this website to explore the different acceptance rates between Cornell's Colleges.
What do Ivy League Colleges Look for in Applicants?
Academics; GPA, AP/IB Classes, SAT/ACT Scores
Strong academics are a big plus in your acceptance to Ivy League schools. It creates a base for your application and prevents you from getting removed from a pile of applicants based just on numbers, as the admission officers spend only four to six minutes per application. Typically, those admitted to Ivy League colleges have excellent grades -focusing on particular subjects showing their passion- of an average weighted GPA of 4.0 or higher and above-average standardized test scores between mostly 1458 and 1564.
Taking challenging classes available to you, such as AP or, if offered in your school, IB courses and earning high AP test scores show Ivies the applicant's hard work and capability of studying college-level material and serve as preparation for college. AP classes also help boost your weighted GPA, affecting one's admission to top colleges.
Excellence and Passion in Extracurricular Activities
Ivies value extracurriculars on the top level. Demonstrating a true passion and dedication and not just a passing interest in your pursuit shows your devotion to college admission officers. While almost all extracurriculars look good on an Ivy application, those showing your leadership skills, creativity, and passions considerably stand out from others.
For most Ivies, uncommon or extraordinary activities, such as nationally ranked student-athletes, individuals who attended a top (merit-based) summer program, or student-researchers, place applicants on the top level in terms of extracurriculars. The second level of extracurriculars includes activities that show students' considerable achievements, such as their leadership skills through taking a president role in the NHS. Tier 3 activities include minor achievements like being treasurer of the student government. Finally, last-level activities contain club memberships, volunteering, hobbies, and sports teams.
Colleges expect you to create something of your own, not just following the established order of things, but running fundraisers, starting nonprofit organizations, or chasing your highly-developed passions through creativity. While you don't want to mislead colleges about your strengths and capacities, it, however, would be suitable to tailor your application to the school of your desire. Research your prospective schools before application time to easily emphasize your traits and experiences relevant to each school through your extracurricular and supplemental essays.
Personal Essay and Supplements
An applicant’s personal essay is a significant reflection of their personality and passions and a big part of the admission process. It is essential to reflect on who you are and make the admission officer feel what you’ve felt- bringing you, the applicant, to life. It’s a chance for you to explain the innovative ways you’ve become who you are, tying the different pieces of your application together. Most crucial points for personal essays would be:
Opening the essay with a compelling “hook”: Since admission officers don’t have much time to spend on each application, it is essential to attract their attention only by the first sentence of your essay.
Deeply personal: It is crucial that you differ from others and to establish that giving details and going private would help.
Including moments of self-reflection and growth: Ivies want to see you growing and taking lessons from your struggles, which would set you apart from other applicants.
How Do I Increase My Chance of Being Accepted to Ivy League Schools?
Early Application: Decision or Action
Statistically speaking, early application has its advantages. If applying early into an Ivy league, an applicant would have a higher chance of getting accepted due to the smaller pool of applicants. The early application process is divided into two branches: Early Action and Early Decision, which differ in the sense that one is binding and one is not. If a student is accepted into a university under Early Decision, they must withdraw all their applications and enroll at that institution. Unlike Early decision, early action allows students to decline the offer if accepted and enroll at another university. In Early Application, applicants enjoy about four to six percent higher acceptance rates.
6 Tips From a Prior Ivy College Admission Officer
Make the most of your opportunities- colleges do look at your background and take context into consideration, such as the courses offered in your school, your family's income, etc. What matters is that you worked the hardest you possibly could, using every opportunity you had.
Follow your genuine interests- in terms of extracurriculars, it matters that applicants follow their passions, which intersect with other parts of their application: their essay, the courses they took in school, etc.
Don't just check boxes; find a way to best present your existing list- every part of your application must add up to one thing, don't do something just because it would look good on your resume. Do things that interest you and tie them to one central point in your personal essay or supplements.
Be thorough in presenting the best case for yourself- it's essential to include the little details about yourself, in a way, you are advertising yourself for your choice of college.
As for your course load, don't drown but prepare yourself- even though it is crucial to challenge yourself with AP courses, balance is essential.
In case of getting waitlisted, make it heard that this school is your number one choice- do not get hopeless and keep the school updated, showing how hard-working and passionate of a student you are.
How Do I Start Preparing for Applications?
Now that your goal is set at applying to Ivy League colleges, it's time for practical actions that will lead you towards your dream. It's best to pick a specific school and put more effort on fostering the qualities the college is known to look for in their applicants. While it is possible for a student to prepare for the application on his or her own, getting expert help on particular areas can significantly decrease the time spent on the section, enabling the student to focus more on other important agendas on the list.
Getting standardized test scores, or the SAT and ACT scores, is one of the areas that students may want to look for professional guidance. The exam preparation period can be reduced to only 5-6 months, whereas it can be unnecessarily elongated when students study on their own. Prestige Institute provides a variety of course options for students to choose from based on their situations and needs. It offers the ultimate self-paced course or live test prep classes for those who wish to study at home and in-person bootcamps for those who wish to study in a traditional classroom settings. Check out the courses to find the best prep for you!