How to Prepare For An Ivy League College Education

If you have always dreamed of going to an Ivy League college — which, to define the term, are the eight schools that make up the Ivy League, including: Harvard, Princeton, Yale (the “Big Three”), as well as Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania — there are many thing you can do that will help you succeed in the Ivy League college admissions and general college application process.

#1. Take as many AP courses as possible: College admissions officers, especially Ivy League college admissions officers want to see that you are not only challenging yourself by taking the most challenging courses possible at your particular school, but they want to see that you are ALREADY fully immersed in college-level classes, before you even get to college. So, if your high school DOESN’T offer any AP course work, make sure you get college-level courses on your transcript somewhere else (like enrolling in a community college at night or on the weekends).

This shows that you will be able to handle the work-load once you actually get in to a highly competitive school. It shows you have the intellect and can take the pressure, and that kind of proof is what makes admissions officers happy, and lets you as a high school student actually pass the test and get in!

#2: Make sure you have extracurricular activities that are interesting and different: By different, this means something more unique than piano, violin, or swimming. Oh no! What if you’re saying, “but all I do is take piano, violin and swimming!”

These activities are fine if you’re either a musical prodigy, or an Olympic medalist, but in case you’re not, try…just try…to branch out and have at least some expansion into other, more unique, activities that will make you stand out more than your friends and become even more “unusual” to college admissions officers — again, especially Ivy League college admissions officers: they like unusual!

Schools like to diversify their class, and they like students who have done, or are doing, incredibly interesting things. So, branch out. Do something different — on top of the regular “smart kid” activities like classical music or Model UN, or class president. Do you know how many times we hear “I’m junior (or senior) class president!” You don’t want to just do what every other smart kid does: ESPECIALLY for the Ivy League!

#3: Choose your own, real interests: Really. Don’t push yourself (or have your parents push you) to go into Engineering or Finance as a potential major in college if you sincerely want to study Greek, or eventually get your Ph.D in Microbiology. The college admissions officers want to know what REALLY interests you, again, especially for the Ivy League, and what they don’t want to see is someone who’s been programmed by their parents to say something that simply sounds like the next hot (or lucrative) thing to study right now, or with the only purpose being to make sure you’re in line for a well-paying job. It won’t get you in.

The Ivy League schools in particular like to admit students who want to study something DIFFERENT. Remember, they employ a lot of professors, and they need to fill the Greek and Philosophy classes, too. The Ivy League colleges often admit students who have a WIDE VARIETY OF INTERESTS, especially in the humanities.

These are also the students who might later go on to law school, or medical school, enter a policy program in foreign relations, and/or get their Ph.D and become professors themselves.

The Ivy League colleges in particular like students who appreciate the value of a broad education — one that will leave them post-graduation with a full and solid understanding of today’s world and culture. In other worlds, the Ivy League colleges are more interested in graduating people who will be “well-educated” by anyone’s standards, and that means being able to speak on a wide variety of interests and topics, politics and art, at some depth.

What they are NOT interested in, are people who are simply looking at college as a way to get a job. They try to weed those “non-intellectuals” the “non-scholars” out. Those students honestly are better served by going to a state school or one of the more highly competitive (but much more narrowly focused) science or engineering schools like MIT.

#4: In summary, Ivy League colleges are for students who appreciate learning…about everything! They are students who have a passion for new things and intellectual topics, and understand and are well-versed in a wide-variety of literary, artistic, political, and academic possibilities.

If you can encourage that mindset, you will have a chance of getting in. Strong essays, high grades, good SAT scores, glowing high school recommendations, and a impressive college interview will all help complete the college admissions package, but instilling in yourself a desire to learn, and to convey that attitude about learning in everything and anything as you go forth in the college admissions process…THAT’s what Ivy League admissions officers look for the most, and that is the “secret sauce” that will help you achieve your dreams!

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the top Ivy League College Admissions consulting firm: www.IVY LEAGUE Contact me for a free consultation today, and get into the Ivy League! (646) 276–7042; ]