Getting Into the Ivy League

Our founder, Bev Taylor, recently wrote an article published by “The Huffington Post” about how getting into the Ivy League isn’t random. In fact, getting into the Ivy League is more of a science than anything else. It frustrates us to no end when we hear students and parents lament that the Ivy League admissions process is completely out of their control, that it comes down to luck. Is there luck involved in the Ivy League admissions process? Sometimes.

As an example, it can help if your regional admissions officer once attended the high school you attend. It can help if your regional admissions officer received word right before they reviewed your application that they were accepted to a prestigious graduate program. So, sure, there’s a small (with an emphasis on the word small) element of luck involved in the process. But, at the end of the day, that luck is really just the “familiarity principle” and the “primacy effect,” respectively, from social psychology. So even that is a science!

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Getting into the Ivy League is anything but random. It is, in no uncertain terms, a science. And that science includes not writing about trips on college essays! Oy vey (photo credit: Pazit Polak).

The fact is that getting into the Ivy League has little to do with luck. As Bev states in the article, “Once an entire application is received (transcript, high school profile, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, school report, teacher evaluations, the application itself, and its supplement including all the required essays), an applicant is initially evaluated based on his or her Academic Index (A.I.). The A.I. is a number based on a formula using a student’s GPA, class rank, SAT or ACT scores, and SAT Subject Test scores. Some of the colleges in the Ivy League use an A.I. on a numeric scale of 1-9 with 9 being the strongest, while others use a scale from 1-5.” Does the word formula strike you as synonymous with luck? We didn’t think so.

And what about college essays? Do you feel like evaluating college essays is an inherently subjective process? It isn’t. A good college essay is a good college essay — one that can make the difference between getting in and getting rejected. A bad college essay is a bad college essay. The vast majority of essays submitted to highly selective colleges fit into this category. If you wrote an essay about a trip, about what you learned from your grandmother, or about working in a soup kitchen, your college essay fits neatly into this category.

So, no, getting into the Ivy League is anything but random. Is there a little bit of subjectivity when applications are “holistically reviewed”? Yes. But there’s not a whole lot of subjectivity. It’s a process that can most certainly be reduced to a science. And that’s what we do for all of our students…


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