Case Studies

Sam’s Case

Sam was denied early admission to Yale. After reaching out to Ivy Coach, he was admitted to Columbia, Cornell, NYU, and Princeton.


In the middle of December, after colleges sent out their Early Decision / Early Action notifications, we received a phone call from Sam, a student who did not work with Ivy Coach in the Early round and was deferred at Yale. He was interested in Ivy Coach’s PostMortem application review, followed by our assistance in drafting a compelling Letter of Continued Interest to Yale.

While Sam knew he had another shot in the Regular Decision round at Yale, he wasn’t sure if he had made any mistakes on his Yale application that could hurt his chances at other colleges. He also wanted to give himself the best chance of getting into Yale in Regular Decision.


Sam was an orthodox Jewish student coming from a yeshiva. He had a perfect GPA in his school’s most rigorous courses and a 1570 SAT. While his extracurricular activities were ok, they weren’t anything special — Model UN, Key Club, basketball. And aside from being viewed as a well-rounded candidate, Sam’s biggest challenge was that he applied to a school, Yale, with a student body that, at the time, was nearly 30% Jewish. As a result, Yale may have viewed Sam’s application as one that brought no diversity to the incoming class. Yale saw Sam as just another orthodox Jewish student.


After reading through Sam’s college admissions essays and his Yale application, we identified several key issues that hurt his candidacy. Chief among them? His activities and admissions essays were all over the place. He failed to showcase how he would singularly contribute to Yale’s community.

While getting to know Sam, we realized that his Jewish faith was fundamentally important to him. Yet none of his activities related to his faith — it was a glaring omission, hidden in plain sight. Yet Sam jabbered away when we asked him if there were activities related to his religious faith that he didn’t think to include on his application.

After helping Sam craft a powerful Letter of Continued Interest to Yale, he signed up for Ivy Coach’s assistance with redrafting his applications over the remaining December weeks before January Regular Decision deadlines. His activities and essays centered on his faith in these new iterations. He never told the same story twice, but he strategically and quite naturally infused his faith into all of his writings.

We also encouraged him to add a few elite universities to his list that we perceived as glaring omissions, universities that received fewer applications than Yale from orthodox Jewish students. Among these schools was Princeton, a school with a distinctly lower Jewish undergraduate enrollment at the time.


Sam was accepted to Columbia, Cornell, NYU, and Princeton. He never did get into Yale. He chose to attend Princeton. He was waitlisted at Harvard and Penn but decided not to pursue either waitlist because he was thrilled to be attending Princeton.

While we can never be 100% certain why he got into Princeton, we have an excellent idea. As an orthodox Jewish student who showcased the depth and breadth of his religious faith that he would add to Princeton’s community, the university likely saw him as a way to add diversity to their class.

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