Getting Accepted to an Ivy League College

The eight colleges that comprise the Ivy League are considered some of the toughest schools academic wise and also carry a high level of prestige. All of these schools are based in the northeastern section of the United States of America. All of the bachelor’s degree programs offered by these schools are considered to be the most demanding programs currently available.

College ranking services usually place all of the Ivy League schools at the top of their lists. For this and many other reasons, getting accepted into one of these schools can be a trying process. Some of the required credentials necessary to gain admittance are outlined below.

Basic Test Score Requirements

Each school has their own score requirements for the SAT and the ACT tests. In addition a person’s GPA is very important. The chart listed below includes the average scores from each of the eight schools.

School SAT Critical Reading SAT Math SAT Writing ACT Composite GPA Percentage of Applications admitted to school
Brown 650 to 760 670 to 780 660 to 770 28 to 33 Higher than 3.5 14%
Columbia 680 to 770 680 to 780 690 to 770 29 to 34 Higher than 3.5 11%
Cornell 630 to 730 670 to 770 NA 29 to 33 Higher than 3.5 21%
Dartmouth 660 to 770 670 to 780 680 to 770 29 to 34 Higher than 3.5 13%
Harvard 690 to 800 700 to 780 690 to 790 31 to 35 Higher than 3.5 8%
Princeton 690 to 790 700 to 790 690 to 780 31 to 34 Higher than 3.5 10%
University of Pennsylvania 650 to 740 680 to 780 670 to 760 30 to 33 Higher than 3.5 17%
Yale 700 to 800 700 to 780 700 to 790 30 to 34 Higher than 3.5 9%

Keep in mind that these are only average scores and GPA’s from the full body of students at each school. Just because one of your test scores falls below the typical average does not mean you will not be considered for admission. However, in order to compensate for the lower score you need to ensure that you have some other compensating factors such as a higher than average GPA or verifiable accomplishment in community service.

Ways to Improve Your Odds of Getting Accepted

As you can see from the chart above, the majority of applicants are turned away from Ivy League schools. In order to get the attention of admission counselors you need to focus on your high school studies in order to earn a high grade point average. You should also prepare thoroughly for the college entrance exams. In addition, there are some other things that can help get you noticed.

  • Enroll in tough classes, such as AP or IB classes that grant college credit. Also, make sure you are taking some form of math, science, English and social studies every year of high school.
  • Join a variety of clubs – Volunteer for a vacant role such as treasurer, secretary or even president. This is a perfect way to demonstrate your willingness to jump in and contribute.
  • Enroll in a foreign language for at least 3 years if your school allows it.
  • Prepare an essay that point out the top reasons why the school should accept your application.

Other High Quality Colleges

Although the programs offered at Ivy League schools are the best of the best, they are not necessary to start a successful career. Some of the world’s most famous success stories attended schools other than the Ivy Leagues. There are several groups of colleges that have excellent reputations among alumni and the workforce but offer their programs at a lower cost and in other locations.

  • Public Ivies – These are public colleges that have academic requirements almost as high as the Ivy League colleges.
    • Miami University located in Ohio
    • All locations of the University of California
    • University of Texas at Austin
    • University of Virginia
    • William & Mary located in Virginia
    • University of Vermont
    • University of Michigan
    • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill campus
  • Historically black schools collectively known as Black Ivy League
    • Hampton University in Virginia
    • Fisk University in Tennessee
    • Morehouse College in Georgia
    • Spellman College in Georgia
    • Dillard University in Louisiana
    • Tuskegee University in Alabama
    • Howard University in Washington D.C.
  • A group of small liberal arts colleges are located in different places in the U.S. and are called the Hidden Ivies
    • Pomona College in California
    • Carleton College in Minnesota
    • Middlebury College in Vermont
    • Amherst College in Massachusetts
    • Haverford College in Pennsylvania
    • Bowdoin College in Maine
    • Oberlin College in Ohio
    • Vassar College in New York
  • The colleges located in the southern part of the U.S. collectively called the Southern Ivies
    • Vanderbilt University in Tennessee
    • Rice University in Texas
    • Emory University in Georgia
    • Tulane University in Louisiana
    • Duke University in North Carolina

Strategy for Ivy League Colleges

  • Plan out your college entrance exam dates wisely. You are allowed to take a maximum of three subject tests at one time. However, you are not allowed to take the SAT test on the same day. You will want to take these tests early so that you can retest if your scores are not high enough.
  • Submit your application for the school using the early decision process or the early action plan. This demonstrates to the counselors that you are organized and devoted to gaining acceptance into the school.
  • Let your high school teachers know of your plans to attend an Ivy League school. Lay out your plan for high school as well as college including your choice for a career. This will give the teacher a strong framework to use when drafting a recommendation letter for you to provide to the school as part of your application.
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