As we’ve stated before, we do our best to answer the emails we receive from our readers. Recently, we wrote a blog post titled “Which Ivy League Should I Go To?” and in that post we kindly requested that our readers stop asking both that question, and variants of it. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you should know that we do not subscribe to the theory that everyone needs to go to an Ivy League school.
Our clients and the regular readers of this blog should know by now that we do not subscribe to the insane theory that everyone should go to an Ivy League school. The truth is that most students aren’t better off at an Ivy, and one of our goals is to demystify the application process so that kids can apply to schools that they actually have a chance of getting into. That said, there are still a lot of high school students (and parents) out there that think the Ivy League is the only way to go.
Subject: College choice
Message: Hi! I’ve read your website and it seems like you’ve helped a ton of people get direction on their university choice. I was wondering if you could help me out too? I really have no idea where I want to go and I’m in my senior year of high school. I want to get into one of the Ivy’s but I don’t know particularly why or which one.
The Ivy League has always been hard to get into. But over time, it’s become astronomically more competitive. In fact, according to our estimates, the Ivy League has a combined average acceptance rate that hovers around 5 percent.
Recently we got this email:
Subject: Getting into ivy league with C's??
Message: Hi, I am currently a junior in high school and I was never really interested in studies and getting into good colleges back when I started 9th grade. But now, I finally found the motivation but I feel like its too late. Is there anything I can do with the time I have to boost myself?
The Ivy Leagues schools are the way they are for a reason. That is, they are extremely exclusive. There are a number of really strong students across the country, but only a handful are Ivy league applicant material. Colleges advertise to B+ and A- students. We advise that students who fall into that range be skeptical. You’re clearly smart and successful, but at the end of the day, the Ivies aren’t probably aren’t going to accept you.
When it comes to Ivy League applications, the hardest part is figuring out exactly what to write about. We’re written about Ivy League common app essay topics, but this blog post is exclusively about supplements. Here you can read our advice on how to write the supplements for all of the Ivy’s: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. But this post will provide general tips that apply to every Ivy.
The Harvard supplement is optional, which is one of the reasons for their very, very low acceptance rate. Plenty of unqualified kids think, “Hey. No essay? I’ll throw my hat in.” If you’re serious about applying and your scores and GPA fall into Harvard’s range, then write the essay.
Stanford has become iconic for being hard to get into. It’s a great school, we know, but deciding to apply to Stanford is picking to fight an uphill battle. Last year, over 44,000 people applied. 2085 got in. The acceptance rate was 4.7%. That’s half of what it was just 10 years ago (2008 was 9.5%). The scores kids got in with? Pretty close to perfect.
Here is a typical email (paraphrased) that we get this time of year…
My kid is applying to college, and we’re looking to hire someone to help us. He isn’t sure where he wants to go, so can you just do all of the Ivy League apps with him? We can do the rest on our own.
The only answer we give (albeit in a wordier and more *slightly* friendly format) is “N.O. Absolutely no.”
Prospective parents always ask us what we can do to help ensure their kids get into the Ivy League. As hardworking and bright as we’re sure they all are, those with B+ (or less) averages don’t always like our answer: If you’re knocking on the Ivy door, they’re not going to answer for you.
2018 acceptances for the Class of 2022 are out and what we predicted has come to pass: it is harder to get into college than ever. HOT TAKE. Acceptance rates are plummeting, and the rates at top schools have yet again hit record lows. At the same time, the number of applicants who were waitlisted is off of the charts. Colleges are becoming more conservative in their admissions decisions. Unfortunately, students are bearing the brunt of it.
Continuing our “Schools Like” series, where we break down those Ivy League and similar schools, give you the facts, what makes the school unique, and other schools that offer similar environments of qualities, we’re on to Cornell.
We’re onto Princeton with our “School Like” series. In this series, we’re taking schools that are considered reach schools (yes, for everyone—no matter what your GPA or ACT scores are, any Ivy or equivalent will always be a reach), breaking them down into their most distinct parts, and giving you a list of schools that possess those same qualities, “vibes,” or personality. These are schools that you may not have heard of before, or perhaps that you have heard of but hadn’t previously considered. Consider this your charge to think outside the box and have an open mind.
Our “Schools Like” series is where we take a school—a “dream” or a reach school—and give you a list of schools that are similar to that one school. “How could they be similar AT ALL?” you ask, when you’ve been wearing your mom’s Dartmouth sweatshirt since you were 4? Here’s a secret: there are only so many qualities that a school can have, and there is inevitably a ton of overlap when there are literally thousands of institutions of higher education in the U.S.
Columbia University is next up in our “Colleges Like” series. We’re starting with all of the Ivy League schools—you know, all of the classic “reach” schools—breaking them down into their essential parts, and giving you a list of schools that we’ve found share those qualities. We know what makes a great match based on years of experience helping hundreds of students enroll in college.
We’re continuing our “Schools Like” series with Brown—the crunchy, liberal, social justice-warrior of the Ivy League family. We’ll take your reach school, boil it down to what makes it most unique, and give you a slew of schools to contemplate that also possess some of those same qualities. Over and above its culture (one that tends to attract extroverts), what makes Brown stand out is its open curriculum. It’s not for everyone, but those who work well with flexibility and desire creativity within academics truly thrive and love the lack of definitive structure, core classes, or even the requirement to choose a major (though students must choose a “concentration). It’s a free-spirited, liberal arts-focused, creative intellectual student’s Disneyland. The only requirement that Brown imposes on its undergraduates is that they must pass a writing course.
This is the first of our “Schools Like” series, where we’ll break down those super-duper reach schools into actually digestible components, and then offer you a list of some schools that are similar, comparable, and/or possess a lot of the same qualities.
So you want to transfer to Harvard. Welcome to a very large number group, with a very low success rate. By very low, we mean minuscule. Harvard accepts less than 1% of transfer applicants on average, and some years they don’t accept anyone. Seriously. That’s a 0-1% acceptance rate. Does that mean you shouldn’t try? Not at all. We’re all about beating slim odds, but first, you have to accept that no matter how hard you work, or how great your grades are, or how many times you’ve walked on the moon, or how many Disney shows you starred in, you’re not getting in. Accept it, embrace it, and then try anyways.