Ivy League Admission Code
An informative blog for your college application

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Ivy League Admission Code


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This is an informative blog to help you in preparing your college applications. It focuses on the undergraduate admission to the top eight American universities, called the Ivy League.

Here are 51 tips for improving your college applications.



Focus on details, because they matter!


Harvard Admission statistics

For the class of 2007, Harvard received 20'986 applications and admitted 2'056 students. So the admission rate was 9.8%.

For the class of 2020, Harvard received 39'041 applications and admitted 2'037 students. So the admission rate was 5.2%.

The trend is that number of applicants rises while the number of admitted students stays the same.


Social Media

Follow your target universities on social media. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter at least. You will get an idea of the vibe of the university. It can also help you in showing demonstrated interest.


Admission Interview Tips

  • be yourself
  • dress well
  • come in time
  • smile
  • keep eye contact
  • shake properly their hand
  • think 1.5s - 2s before answering a question
  • tell only positive things about the university
  • if you do not know, say "I don't know." - but reveal intelletual curiosity about thing that you don't know


Admission Rate

Every Ivy League School deny more students than they accept. The statistics of Class of 2020 is:
Harvard University - 5.2%
Columbia University - 6.0%
Yale University - 6.3%
Princeton University - 6.5%
Brown University - 9.0%
University of Pennsylvania - 9.4%
Dartmouth College - 10.5%
Cornell University - 14.1%


Rough Essay

College admission coaches say that rough essay is better than polished. It should sound unique and without external influence.



That is usually the most important factor. To improve your grades you can get study skills or/and get a tutor.


Study Foreign Languages

What else can show to the admission employee that you are a well rounded person? Get a tutor, study in school, get books and study alone. For vocabulary I recommend Project Lowell, it is a new thing online and it is growing very quickly. I recommend to download all the pdf files they have for your target language and also read their blogs. It is pretty awesome.

Also, once you are on a certain level, start to use monolingual dictionaries only.



Show some signs that you have strength of character.


Things to Show

Another things to show in your application: interest, passion, that you are a leader, working hard, having a relationship with people around you, that you love to study.


Academic Index

All Ivy League Universities compute so called Academic Index. It consists of SAT scores, SAT Subject Test and GPA. Every student gets a number. Harvard, Princeton and Yale has the highest Academic Index - 220.


Legacy Students

Those are students whose parents already went to that university are you applying.



AP exams are not required. But they can help a lot. Here is a link to the official website.


SAT Is Not All

Having SAT score more than 2300 is not a guarantee of admission. The Direstor of Admission at Princeton University stated: "Indeed, last year 74% of the students who applied with SAT scores of over 2300 were not admitted.". Do not focus just on the SATs.



A good SAT score is 750 or higher.

SAT Subject test can be more important than grades in high school.

An idea how to get a better score in the SAT is to take SATs and do not send the results to any school.



Consider taking PSAT before during senior year in high school.


More Advice

If you want to have better advices, get a college admission coach. The best would be a member of NACAC or/and NAGC. (www.nacacnet.org, www.nagc.org)


Additional Info/Tips for the International Applicants

Do things outside school, either do few for full or do more not for full. The former is usually better.

Work on your English. Read newspapers (www.wsj.com, www.nytimes.com), read books.

In the American system of education the high school starts in 9th grade. It lasts until 12th grade. They call the 9th grade the freshman year, 10th grade the sophomore year, 11th grade the junior year and the 12th grade the senior year. These four words apply to grades as well as students in that particular grade. The same apply for college or high school.


Extracurricular Activities

Join/participate or form a philosophy club, science club, math competitions, music club, music instrument club, theater, poetry, school newspaper, tutor volunteering, politics campaign, sport club.



Do something, do not play computer games the whole summer. Get a summer job in Chile, do volunteering online, travel in Italy. Do not study Spanish, but get a native speaker to practice it.


Gap Year

If you are admitted, think about taking a gap year. Most people travel.

If you are not admitted to where you want to go at the first attempt, start something new. There is an idea of getting into Harvard by applying again four consecutive years in a row. Every year start to do something new. For example start studying a foreign language every year they don't admit you (think of Chinese, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Persian, Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese). And practice the ones you have learned in the previous years.


Personal Development

Get a mentor in personal development. It will help you to become a better person, manage your life, manage your time, set short term and long term goals etc.


Campus Map

Get to know the campus map of your target universities.


Financial Aid

In 2015 in Harvard, if your annual family income is lower than 65'000 USD then you are not required to pay anything. There are no loans available.


Low Income Family

Having straight As is a great achievement.


High Income Family

Then you are expected to have straight As. Because your family can pay for tutoring.


Facebook Profile

The trend is that admission officers check it. So make it have a vibe of your personality.


Demonstrated Interest

Tell them that you have read on the facebook/twitter account of the university that xxx. It shows demonstrated interest. You can do it in your essay or during an admission interview.


Campus Visit

Make them sure you are interested in the college. Make them know. It is called demonstrated interest. Visit the campus!


Step Out

Another advise is step out of the crowd and try new things. Mention this in your college application.


Campus Visit

If you visit the campus, make sure that you don't do that in summer. It is because you can see the students there. During/after a campus tour you can ask questions. You can also talk to the students and ask them for application tips. You can even invite one to a lunch/dinner on campus and get more info from them.


Practice for the SAT

There is an app developed by the CollegeBoard for daily practicing for the SAT test: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/daily-practice-app .


High School Grades

Make sure you have the best grades possible. Get a tutor for subject you struggle with, if you can afford it.


Study Alone and Also Study With Someone

Know the time to study alone and also the time to study with a friend. Or form a study group online or in your school/city focused on a particular subject. And invite keen people to join and study together. These people can write a letter of recommendation for you later.


SAT Essay

Become an expert in writing an essay in a given frame of time. You can write an essay a week while in high school and give it to someone or post it on a online forum where people post essays and read other people's essays. Here is a forum for that: https://essayforum.com/undergraduate/


Prepare for the SAT Tests

There are books you can buy online to study for that.



Make sure your English is perfect. If you are an international applicant.. You can read news, books from American authors (e.g. novels), listen to audio/podcast, and find a friend online to Skype with. Why not write your diary in English too?


Do Sport

Maybe run a marathon - and get a paper stating that.



Participate and win competitions that are related to your field of study.


Study History

Study history of your field of study and start a blog about it.


Visit the campus

If you can, visit the campus of the university where you want to study. Most universities offer FREE campus tours daily. You will get to know the environment, you will feel the vibe of the place and maybe they will help you with another advices for your application.



Another element that really help in the admission process is to show that you had to overcome hardness. For example you are after high school and you don't want to go to local universities, and your parents kick you on a street and you are homeless. Or that you come from a low-income family.


Do volunteering

Online volunteering - you can join Google Translate community and help them with translations. It will help you in a foreign language too.
Volunteering in your field of study. Eg be active on an online forum related to your intended field of study, maybe even become a moderator there.
Something in your geographical area.


Advanced Knowledge

Show that you already know a bit more than what is required in high school in your field of study.


Free Monolingual Dictionaries Online

Here is a list of monolingual dictionaries online:

English: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/
German: http://www.dwds.de/?woerterbuch=1&qu=&last_corpus=DWDS
Spanish: http://dle.rae.es/?w=diccionario
Italian: http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/
French: http://larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais
Portuguese: https://www.dicio.com.br



Develop multiple intelligences. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences


Research Experience

Present materials showing that you have a research experience. All Ivy League institutions are research universities and that is why they will like it a lot. Your research should be something related to your intented field of study, maybe combined with other discipline too (interdisciplinary research). A good idea is to cooperate your research with someone from a local university or at the end let someone professor state their opinion about your research.


Time Management

Learn about how to manage your time better.



Order some books from the Internet about how to be a superstudent.


A Place to Discuss Admission

There is a great forum for that: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com.


Ivy League Universities

All the Ivy League Universities are: Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Brown University, Cornell University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College.

There is eight of them in total. They are all private institutions.


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