7 Things That Will Get Your Ivy League Application Thrown in the Trash

Here’s what you need to know about Ivy League applications:

(1) Low test scores:  test scores can be make or break for you.  If you’re applying to an Ivy League school, you need to be aware that most Ivies such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, Penn, Brown, and Columbia have score averages around 2250+ or higher.  Your goal should be to score in the top 5% of applicants so as to increase your chances of having your application reviewed.  If you’re applying to one of these Ivies and your scores are less than a 2000…unless you’re an Olympic athlete, or 7th generation family member, you should re-consider applying to one of these prestigious schools.  However, our job is to help you get in the top percentiles and thus increase your chances by working with our private tutors.

(2) Generic topics:  if you’re writing about generic topics, i.e. your mom, dad, or how you’ve volunteered in third world countries – re-consider doing so.  Your topics should be reflective, not just on you, but about experiences that show you’re serious about making a difference at their school.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with volunteering, or the fact that you love your parents… but admissions officers see thousands of the same generic “My dad is an inspiration…” or “My mom is an inspiration…” and not enough, reflective and captivating experiences and what you’ll do on campus to contribute your experiences.

(3) All about “me” essays:  for once, think about writing in the second person, i.e. you, your vs. me, and I.  Most admissions essays are littered with first-person form sentences – and miss the point of the admissions essay.  Consider writing about what you’ll do for them, and how you’re going to contribute to the campus life, classes, and campus scene.

(4) Low GPA: there’s really no excuse for a low GPA in school.  Unless you’ve been sick or have a really serious reason for scoring less than a 3.0 GPA, or a B or higher, Ivies won’t consider your application.  You should try very hard to finish your Junior and Senior year in the top percentiles of your class (Yes, even students at top boarding schools and private schools.)

(5) Too Many Extracurricular Activities:  Yes… that’s right: you can put too many extracurricular activities.  If you list every single thing you’ve done in school and try to make the admissions officers believe you’ve actually done more than 40+ hours per week, no one will believe your application.   Be realistic, honest, and candid about your participation outside of school.  In fact, spending more hours on fewer applications will help you… big time.

(6) Not challenging yourself:  no matter your previous school, you should challenge yourself by taking as many APs, Honors, and IB courses, as possible.  You goals should be to take at least 5 APs or Honors courses in school.   Nothing less!  And if you’re school “doesn’t offer that many,” than take some at another local school. The more, the better.  Note:  the average number of APs and Honors is usually between 7 to 9 per student for Ivy League schools and applicants.

(7) Providing little detail about your plans and/or major:  Too many students list “Undecided.”  Stop!  Think about what you might do, and be specific.  I cannot tell you how unimpressive it is to see applications list “undecided.” If you think you might be interested in Medicine… write it down!  If you might want to do cultural anthropology, write it down.  Specific details are always better, even if you’re undecided.

This list of the “7 Things that will get your Ivy League Application Thrown in the Trash” should help you know what it takes to get into Ivy League schools.  We can help you if you’re missing any of the above… Simply reserve your 15 Free Consultation today.


This essay was recently written by Ross Blankenship; Admissions Expert & Founder, Top Test Prep.

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