Michelle and her parents thought fancy summer programs would assist her with admissions. Rather, it was her involvement in area-specific organizations that granted her admission to Duke.
Michelle came to Ivy Coach in 10th grade. Her parents were proud that she had gotten into the Stanford Summer Session and the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP). She also planned to do the New Jersey Governor’s School program the following summer. Michelle wanted to be an engineer; her parents believed these activities would impress admissions officers.
Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University
Michelle’s activities and intended activities all reeked of privilege to us. They smelled like the student was trying to impress admissions officers, which would render her less likable. As we told Michelle’s parents, we don’t care how competitive these summer activities are (they’re not that competitive anyway!) — they’re not the kind of activities that wow admissions officers. They’re not the kind of activities that Ivy Coach’s students pursue.
Besides, going to summer camp at Stanford (and that’s what it is — summer camp) will not improve Michelle’s case for admission to Stanford. Additionally, if she ended up in the Regular Decision round, admissions officers would likely assume she applied Early to Stanford or Duke and didn’t get in. We’d much rather admissions officers think Michelle didn’t apply anywhere in the Early round because she was a procrastinator or couldn’t decide.
HOW IVY COACH HELPED
Michelle wanted to be an engineer. As such, unlike with most other academic disciplines, she needed to know she wanted to apply as an engineer early on in high school so she could get involved in engineering activities. After all, at some (though not all) universities, engineering is a separate school, and it’s challenging to transfer internally. So while a Classics applicant could ultimately major in biology, if a student wanted to study engineering at many top universities, they’d have to express as much when they applied.
Instead of pursuing the fancy schmancy summer programs that Michelle’s parents intended for her to join, we helped Michelle get involved in engaging engineering activities that were all in her local neighborhood. For example, Michelle began researching nanotechnology and its applications to bulletproof vests at Rutgers University. As we at Ivy Coach like to do, we issued a dare to admissions officers not to admit a student who wished to protect America’s soldiers through the power of engineering.
Michelle had four B+s and a 34 ACT. She never had a chance of earning admission to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford. We told her as much before she applied. She wisely chose to heed our advice. She instead applied Early Decision to Duke, a major reach with her grades and score, and she got in. She also earned admission to the University of Chicago through Early Action, though she was bound to attend Duke.
And while some parents, who are not Ivy Coach’s clients, like to think we regularly push students down, and that’s why we boast such robust admissions statistics, there is a flaw in their logic. Parents don’t pay Ivy Coach’s fees to help their children get into safe schools. Instead, they pay our fees to help them earn admission to reach schools, schools they would unlikely get into without our help. Besides, for every student we push down because their dreams are impossible, there’s a student we push up.