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How to Make Your Application Stand Out – The Ivy League Edition 

Is there some well-kept secret to successful Ivy League applications?
Yes, stellar academics are the backbone of this process. Here are the other key fundamentals our Ivy League student profiles reveal:
1. Be Yourself in the College Essay: Students often feel that they have to emulate the “ideal” student profile they think the college is looking for. Based on our successful Ivy League applications, we strongly advise you to introspect and build an organic narrative rooted in your own experiences and actions.
Our student, Linda, got accepted into Harvard this year. Her profile was centered on concerns and actions that could only have sprung from her unique scenario and set of experiences. She demonstrated a pattern of deep concern, engagement, and leadership in the world she encountered.
Linda felt strongly enough about education to join the City Youth Commission and convince the public education system to reintroduce basic math programs in middle schools. She fought for affordable housing in underprivileged communities and for tenant counseling for struggling renters. Linda also joined an advocacy movement to urge her school administration to be more supportive and inclusive of students who have faced sexual harassment and violence. Dealing with struggles such as anorexia herself made her acutely aware of the challenges students around her were dealing with. This story was hers alone.
So what will make you and your application stand out? Your unique set of experiences, how they have shaped you, and how you have contributed to your environment are key. If you try to be, act, or sound like someone else, it will be hard to stumble upon that particularly different story from your life that the admissions office has never seen before.
2. Determine Which College Fits You the Best: Our student Yoselin faced the difficult challenge of deciding between Yale and Princeton. Several factors, including the strength of Yale’s political science program, their dual degree program offering a B.A. and M.A. in political science in 4 years (as opposed to 5 -year programs at other colleges), and the opportunity to explore classes in different majors and study abroad appealed to her. Ultimately, when she visited the campus, she immediately felt at home. The atmosphere was collaborative and friendly. The students and classroom discussions were intellectually stimulating and debate-oriented, but the emphasis was not on competition between students.
Each university has a distinct character and personality of its own. The admissions office knows the types of student profiles that will flourish in their unique setting. Your job is to understand the environment where you will excel. Explain all the reasons why your habits, dreams and future plans align perfectly with the campus culture and working style of the university you are applying to.
3. Know Why the College Should Want You: Our student who recently got into Columbia lives and breathes biology and has been doing so ever since she can remember. It started with a high degree of inquisitiveness about the nature of the world around her. Obsessive microscope observations as a child eventually led her to the Modern Applications of Biology summer program at the University of Chicago. Her research on the drug metformin at a renowned lab in Mumbai was the culmination of all her experiences and inclinations since childhood.
Many colleges and programs look for students deeply interested in areas both inside and outside the classroom. This often stems from the student’s earliest memories. Analyze yourself – what are you most inclined towards, what are you skilled at, what holds your concentration and attention for hours at a time, and most importantly, in what way can you add the most value to a college and your community at large?
Once you can pinpoint this, the programs that are best for you will become clear. Remember to start the process as early as possible and to plan for all the necessary deadlines well in advance. Expert feedback and review will make your application solid and polished. College rankings, acceptance rates, and areas of cutting-edge research are continuously evolving, so keep an eye out. Here are some of the updated acceptance rates for some key Ivy League colleges for 2024, according to IvyWise:


Class of 2028: 5.16%
Class of 2027: 5.23%


Class of 2028: 3.85%
Class of 2027: 4.00%


Class of 2028: 5.32%
Class of 2027: 6.23%


Class of 2028: 3.59%
Class of 2027: 3.45%


Class of 2028: 3.73%
Class of 2027: 4.50%