Collectively, the Ivy League colleges are considered the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the United States. Admittance to one is often the first step on a long and illustrious career in law, medicine, or business… but gaining that acceptance is a time-consuming and arduous process.
There are many criteria that an admissions officer uses to gauge the quality of an Ivy League college applicant. But, of course there are some aspects that are more important than others.
Here are the top 5 ways to stand out to Ivy League Universities:
1. Standardized Tests and Your G.P.A.
While many of the criteria that will distinguish you from other students is highly subjective, you first must demonstrate the intellectual capacity necessary to attend these illustrious universities by having a far above average G.P.A. and by testing well on the S.A.T. or the A.C.T. While not a prerequisite per se, these grades and scores are often used as a preliminary benchmark to eliminate the least promising candidates. It takes an inordinately talented candidate with demonstrated accomplishments to overcome a deficit in this area.
2. Extracurricular Activities
Ivy League schools expect a certain level of intellectual prowess, but they also want interesting people engaged in a variety of activities outside of their schoolwork. It is imperative that the student play sports, act, or otherwise use their free time constructively. In addition to any particular skills learned, extracurricular activities provide real world experiences that transcend the academic world. In other words, these activities show that you can deal with the social interactions that will inevitably be part of your college years and your later adult life.
3. Community Service
An interest in the well-being of your fellow man is also a distinct advantage when it comes to being accepted at an Ivy League institution. Serving others is often the most rewarding aspect of a person’s life for those who are spectacularly successful. For this reason, the Ivies expect a heightened level of maturity from their applicants. The actual community service need not be anything extraordinary but should demonstrate a true desire to help others over an extended period of time.
It is perhaps a sad fact that we do not perceive ourselves in quite the same way as others do, but it is a very real one. Recommendations from teachers are an excellent resource and should be used, but even better are those from accomplished people outside the walls of your high school. References from mentors, coaches and even employers add credibility and multi-dimensionality to your application and are not seen as just a reiteration of your school transcript.
5. College Counseling
Considering the fact that we ourselves, and those closest to us, are often incapable or afraid of offering constructive criticism, it is not a bad idea to seek some guidance and advice from an outside source like a college counseling service. These companies can objectively critique our accomplishments and failings, helping us to know in which areas we might need some improvement and gain whatever competitive advantages we may need. For example, IvySelect College Consulting explains that they give students the help they need to “help you elevate your profile and maximize your competitiveness in the admissions process.”
Simply put, the bottom line to standing out in the application process to the Ivy league Colleges is to be yourself… but with the best face forward of that self. Take the time to evaluate how to accomplish that particular goal – get expert advice, if necessary – and the process will, by and large, take care of itself.
The writer of this article, Nicole, is a freelance writer who has been writing about the college admissions process for years.