Admissions

Ivy Chances for Freshman?

Question: I am in 9th grade and have a GPA of 4.0, I’m in my school’s volleyball team and a member of a karate club. Furthermore I’m a volunteer at a local nursing home. Will I have a chance to get into Ivy League?

“The Dean” does not do admission “chances” and, even if I did, it’s way too early to assess yours. What I can tell you, however, is what Ivy admission officials often seek in their accepted applicants:

-Top grades in the most rigorous courses. Accepted Ivy candidates may even take classes at local colleges or over the summer after completing the most demanding courses at their own high schools and still seeking more challenge. If your transcript shows a special passion for some particular academic area, so much the better.


-Top SAT or ACT scores. Many admitted Ivy applicants have also taken multiple Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams and have earned the highest scores. These extra tests can help a student seem impressive but are by no means mandatory.

-Significant unique talents or accomplishments in extracurricular activities, particularly athletics (if the applicant is strong enough to be recruited by a coach at that college … if not, sports don’t matter a whole lot) or any activity that is unusual (and yours are not; they are very common). So if you are a truly promising volleyball player, this might be an Ivy “hook,” but do be aware (and most high school freshmen aren’t) that there is a quantum leap between being a good high school player and being a recruited college athlete, even at the lowest college level (and the Ivies are Division 1, which is the highestcollege level). So be realistic about your current abilities and your potential in volleyball, if you’re hoping it could boost your admission odds.

-Unusual background. If you come from an underrepresented minority background, if you are extremely poor (or extremely rich), if you live in an uncommon location, have overcome significant obstacles, or for some other reason have an unusual life story to tell (AND have the good grades and test scores to go with it), this will help you to stand out in a crowd.

Grades and test scores alone rarely lead to Ivy admission. The admission committees are looking for more because the vast majority of candidates are great students with great test results.

So, as a freshman, you have time to consider where you can best make your mark. You also need to broaden your horizons because, even if you have achieved in every area noted above, you will find that Ivy admission is extremely competitive and can seem random or even capricious. So, by the time you’re a senior, be sure you’ve explored a broad range of colleges, not just the Ivies, and found some that you can be truly enthusiastic about.

Good luck!