Ivy League Admissions

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How to get into an Ivy League School

My guess is that you’ve heard of the Ivy League colleges before – that’s why you’re looking at information on how to get into one!

There are eight universities in the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, and University of Pennsylvania, each with their own offerings and specialities, yet all considered to be some of the world’s best institutions.

These prestigious Ivy League colleges, or schools, have produced countless number of tech geniuses, fortune 500 CEOs and young startup founders, including Leadership and Management Institute’s very own founder, Jamie Beaton, who graduated from Harvard!

While the Ivy League admissions process can be extremely difficult, once admitted the rewards are plentiful, exposing you to a world of opportunity you may never have imagined existed.

At the end of the day, that one word – opportunity – sums up the Ivy League difference.

As an Ivy League student, you gain access to an elite network of alumni, a higher starting salary, a feeding system into global companies, and an edge on all other graduates purely because you have an Ivy League name on your CV.

Due to all of these benefits, at six of the eight Ivy Leagues, the acceptance rates are in single digit percentages, the two exceptions being Dartmouth and Cornell. So, it’s fair to say that gaining admission into an Ivy League admissions certainly doesn’t come easy!

In order to even be considered for admission, every aspect of your application needs to be near perfect as the smallest error may mean the next candidate takes your spot.

You’ll need to write a killer admissions essay, have grades near the top (if not right at the top) of your high school class, ideally be in the 90th percentile of the standardised tests, and have a number of impressive extracurricular activities.

With so many elements to consider on your application, it pays to know exactly what it takes to stand out during the admissions process. While there is no one size fits all approach to apply to an Ivy League, there are some subtle differences in what each college looks for when assessing incoming candidates.

(Click on each heading for more information!)

How to get into Harvard

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Harvard was founded in 1636 and was named after the college’s first benefactor, John Harvard, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. Sounds like a pretty decent guy, ol’ John Harvard.

Since its humble beginnings, Harvard has grown from an institution of nine students to one that now offers more than 20,000 students – undergraduate, graduate and professional – with world class degrees.

Harvard is the oldest tertiary education institution in the United States and arguably the most well known of all the Ivy League colleges – and for good reason.

Of all the Ivy Leagues, Harvard graduates have the highest average income with alumni earning approximately $87,000 USD in their first year, more than double the amount of the average college graduate. In fact, Harvard graduates make more money than graduates from any other university in the US (with the exception of MIT).

Last year, the three most popular degrees at Harvard were:

  • Economics
  • Government
  • Computer Science

The acceptance rate at Harvard for the class of 2021 was a slim 5.2%, the smallest of all the Ivy Leagues, so knowing how to stand out on your application is key to gaining admission [link to How to Get Into Harvard Page].

How to get into Yale

Yale is one of the most recognisable and desirable colleges in the US and is also one of Harvard’s fiercest rivals in everything from sports to academics.

Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale was founded in 1701 and has over 300 years of tradition under its belt. The college has always been on the right side of history, too; in 1854 Yale awarded Chinese native, Yung Wing, with a BA, which made him the first Chinese man to earn a degree from an American university. Moreover, in 1876, Edward A. Bouchet, a New Haven native and Yale graduate, became the first African American to earn a PhD in America. Not a bad track record.

Like any Ivy League, Yale is pretty strict when it comes to admissions, with this year’s acceptance rate a low 6.9%. To gain admission, you’ll need more than just strong grades. Extracurriculars, interviews, and essays are all part of the admissions process, so you need to make sure you’re on top of your game when preparing your application. [link: Getting into Yale]

The most popular degrees at Yale in 2016 were:

  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science

No real surprises there!

How to get into Princeton

True to its Ivy League status, Princeton is ranked as the number one in the world by US News World Rankings and and is one of the oldest colleges in the US, founded in 1746.

Located in Princeton, New Jersey (makes sense, right?), Princeton offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. Many of Princeton’s programs rank in the top 10 worldwide, including Economics (6), Arts and Humanities (7), Mathematics (7), and Computer Science (8) among many others.

Princeton also offers popular degrees in policy making, public affairs and international relations at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, which is highly regarded.

The school’s most popular programs in 2016 were:

  • Economics
  • Woodrow Wilson School (policy making, analysis, and evaluation)
  • Computer Science

According to QS World University Rankings, Princeton is ranked number 10 in the world for Graduate Employability, so finding a job upon graduation won’t be an issue! After graduating from Princeton, the most common career pathways pursued by students were in the fields of Finance, Education/Health and Management Consulting, pretty standard stuff for an Ivy League, really.

With a degree from Princeton, a world of possibilities is opened up to you and understanding the nuances of the Princeton application process can be key to gaining admission!

Insight: To gain admission, Princeton like you to have exceptionally strong academic grades!

How to get into Dartmouth

Dartmouth was founded in 1769 and is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a small town about two and half hours North-West of Boston, Massachusetts.

Dartmouth offers approximately 40 departments and programmes in their undergraduate schools, while its graduate schools focuses on Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, and Business.

Dartmouth College is one of the more attainable Ivy League schools, with the welcoming admission rate for the class of 2021 hitting double figures, sitting at 10.4%. What’s more, when you look at the Early Action application statistics, that number more than doubles and jumps up to 27.8%.

In 2016, the most popular degrees at Dartmouth were Economics, History, and Government. The most common career pathways upon graduation are in the Business Consulting, Finance and Education sectors – a very typical top three for an Ivy League.

While the admission rate suggests Dartmouth is easier to gain admission into than any of the other Ivy League schools, it’s still extremely competitive and it pays to understand the early application process and know what Dartmouth are looking for in each potential candidate.

How to get into top US colleges?

While the Ivy League colleges afford you an incomparable level of prestige and open you up to a world of opportunities, they aren’t your only option for high quality education in the US.

Realistically, they only apply to a tiny geographical portion of the West Coast, and the US is a massive country. It would be naive to think they were the only options.

In fact, for the past two years running, the top two Colleges in the world according to QS Top universities have been non-Ivy League US colleges, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford.

How to get into MIT

Despite not being an Ivy League school, MIT frequently features at the top of any top universities ranking; in fact, MIT has featured in the number one spot of the QS World University Rankings for the past three years!

If you’re unsure about what direction you wish to take you academics, MIT is perfect for you because when you apply for MIT, you do not apply to a specific major, but the entire university. This allows all first-year students to explore their options and begin their journey at MIT with an undeclared major. Your freshman year at MIT will be dedicated to exploring the academic fairs, lectures, seminars, and other programs offered by MIT to decide on a major that will suit you.

The most popular major, and one MIT is world-renowned for, is Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with a lot of MIT graduates heading over to Silicon Valley to pursue a career in the tech start-up industries after graduation.

Due to high rankings and liberal arts approach, gaining admission into MIT isn’t easy and the admission rate is a competitive 7.2%. Statistically speaking, an early action application increases your chances of admission, but it’s still no guarantee. The best course of action for admission is to understand the application process and what MIT are looking for in candidates [link How to Get Into MIT].

Hint: MIT is very academically focused.

How to get into Stanford

Outside of the Ivy League, Stanford is one of the most competitive US colleges to get into with a shockingly low admission rate of 4.65% – lower than all of the Ivy Leagues schools!

Another point of difference is that it’s located on the West Coast in the sun-drenched state of California… a massive bonus given the East Coast can be oppressively cold, windy, wet, and snowy at the worst of times.

Standford’s close proximity to the tech hub of Silicon Valley is a huge drawcard for many students and, not surprisingly, its most popular degree is Computer Science. The degree’s popularity is rapidly growing, too. Since 2008, the number of students enrolled in Computer Science on a yearly basis has more than tripled!

Knowing how to beef up your application to stand out from the rest of the application pool can be your key to gaining admission into Stanford! [link: Ghost page: How to get into Stanford]

How to get into NYU

Located in Manhattan, one of the most inspiring cities in the world, New York University (NYU) is a highly desirable study destination for students the world over. As well as being desirable, the acceptance rate at NYU is a more than welcoming 27% and there’s no limit on the amount of students they take in each year.

What’s more, admitted students are guaranteed housing for all four years in the many residence halls situated around Manhattan!

The most popular majors at New York University include: Visual and Performing Arts, Social Sciences, Business, Management, and Marketing. Common careers for NYU graduates are in the fields of Finance, Entertainment/Arts and Education.

NYU loves international students, with the most of any US college, so if you understand the ins and outs of the application process and give admissions officers what they’re looking for, there’s no reason why you can’t get in! [link: ghost page: getting into NYU]

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