What Does it Really Take to Get into the Ivy League?

By Huntington Learning Center

If your teen is a high achiever, the Ivy League might be on her radar. Officially the name of an American intercollegiate athletic conference, the Ivy League consists of eight private colleges and universities: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University.

These schools are known as some of the best and most prestigious in the world and consistently top rankings by U.S. News & World Report and other notable ranking institutions. For students who value academic excellence and reputation, they are the gold standard.

What it takes to get in to the Ivy League

So, what does it take to gain acceptance into one of these colleges? High grades, class rank and outstanding standardized test (SAT and ACT) scores top the list of requirements. A rigorous high school curriculum and an impressive resume of extracurricular activities are also essential. But beyond those things, there are the intangible elements that make certain students stand apart from others.

Tips to strengthen those chances of acceptance

Many brilliant students apply to Ivy League schools each year, and just a small percentage are accepted. Teens must demonstrate to their schools of choice that they have the potential to do incredible things. If your teen wants her application to shine, here are some tips that come from the Ivy League institutions themselves:

  • Show your potential. Teens must show that they have reached not only their academic potential, but their personal potential. They must put their initiative, motivation and steadfast dedication to achieve certain goals on display right in their application package.
  • Take full advantage of school offerings and look beyond school walls for more. Teens who challenge themselves as much as possible at their high schools and take it upon themselves to look for additional learning opportunities (e.g. through independent study or local colleges) prove that they are highly motivated.
  • Show your leadership. Genuine commitment to one’s activities is important to the schools in the Ivy League. Teens who are dedicated to and care deeply about certain pursuits and have taken on the additional responsibility to assume leadership roles in them will stand out.
  • Demonstrate character. Ivy League schools extend admission to students they believe will make a notable impact and difference on campus and in the world after they graduate. Teens should try to show who they are and what they stand for in their applications. They should share how they will contribute in the classroom and take advantage of the unique experience offered at their school of choice.
  • Get the best recommendations. There’s no question that Ivy League schools appreciate the recommendations of teachers, counselors and other mentors when considering candidates’ overall potential. For this reason, teens need to take the decision on who to ask for such letters very seriously. Those individuals are tasked with helping admissions officers understand teen’s promise, intellect and strengths.

Admission into the Ivy League is highly competitive. If your teen has her sights set on attending one of these elite schools, it will take a great deal of hard work and dedication—as well as that “something extra” that makes your teen’s application exceptional.

Encourage your teen to put in the effort in high school—from day one. Huntington can help in several ways:

  1. Supplemental tutoring to help your teen get ahead in every subject and build on those academic strengths.
  2. SAT and ACT prep to help your teen score higher on these important exams.
  3. Study skills development to develop your teen’s essential organization, time management, executive functioning and test-taking skills, which will make your teen a stronger student overall.

Call Huntington to learn more about how we can support your teen’s Ivy League dreams. Our tutoring and test prep programs will set your teen up for success!


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