Many students want to go to university at an Ivy League school. With Nobel Prize-winning alumni, well-rounded athletes, and high-achieving graduates, it’s no surprise that Ivy League schools receive a huge number of applications every year. Prospective students want to know how to get into Ivy League schools.
This elite group of universities are competitive schools known as the Ivy League and includes Princeton University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, Yale University, and the University of Pennsylvania. If you’re wondering how to get accepted into Ivy League schools, we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll share the requirements and acceptance rates of these prestigious institutions, and our top tips to help you with your Ivy League college application. Let’s get started.
All About Ivy League Schools Admissions
Every Ivy League school is different, but there are many similarities in the admissions process. These schools are extremely selective. On average, the Ivy League admits less than eight percent of applicants. Harvard University received 43,000 applications for 2023. This means your application needs to meet all the requirements and show off your unique skills.
Ivy League Schools Acceptance Rate
Each of the Ivy League schools has its own acceptance rate. All of them are extremely selective, but there is some variation. For example, Cornell University’s statistics reflect that its acceptance rate is 11 percent, while Dartmouth College’s stats say its acceptance rate is six percent.
Ivy League Schools GPA
While Ivy League schools don’t have a required minimum grade point average (GPA), admissions are extremely competitive, and excellent grades make a compelling application. In addition to a good GPA score, admissions decisions are also based on your standardized test scores, high school curriculum, and work experience. Your admissions essay will factor into your application too.
Ivy League Schools Total Enrollment
The total enrollment numbers at Ivy League schools vary by school. Undergraduate enrollment changes from smaller schools like Dartmouth College, with 4,170 undergraduate students, to larger schools like Cornell University, with 15,503 undergraduate students.
Ivy League Schools Requirements
- Strong Academic Performance. These schools require that you have excellent grades and that you took the most challenging courses available at your high school. You should take advanced placement (AP) courses or international baccalaureate (IB) courses if your high school offers them.
- Standardized Test Scores. Most schools require SAT or ACT scores, though some schools are making the tests optional. If you choose to skip the tests, the rest of your application must be compelling enough to put you in the league of accepted students.
- Personal Essay. Most schools will require you to write a personal essay or statement on topics like your reason for choosing that school, your career goals, your past leadership experience, or something similar. The goal is to show that you can write well and to show that you have something unique to bring to that university.
- Letters of Recommendation. You will be required to send at least one letter of recommendation as part of your application, although more is ideal. Establishing good relationships with teachers, coaches, or mentors will make sure you have adults in your life who can give professional and personal opinions about you regarding your academic performance, drive, and character. It will also make sure you have strong letters of recommendation from them.
- Record of Extracurricular Activities. These schools are looking for applicants who participate in extracurricular activities. Examples of extracurricular activities include being the captain of your sports team, playing in the school orchestra, ranking well in a national-level art competition, or competing in a science bowl or science olympiad.
Is It Hard to Get Into an Ivy League School?
Yes, it is hard to get into an Ivy League school. These prestigious universities are some of the most selective schools in the world. Nevertheless, with the right preparation, you can improve your chances of acceptance.
If you don’t have a particular dream school in mind, you might want to apply to one of the Ivy League schools with a higher admission rate. Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate at almost 11 percent, while Harvard University has the lowest acceptance rate at about five percent.
How to Prepare for Ivy League School Interviews
Although no Ivy League school requires an interview, some schools offer optional interviews to help the school’s admissions committee see you as a well-rounded student. You should definitely prepare by practicing with some common university admissions interview questions before your big day. Below are some common interview questions.
Ivy League School Interview Questions
- What are you interested in studying at this university?
- What high school accomplishment are you most proud of?
- Why are you interested in this school in particular?
- What are your academic strengths?
- Why do you want to attend college?
10 Tips for Getting Into an Ivy League School
Most of the applicants to Ivy League schools are ambitious students who meet all the requirements and have high GPAs. You will have to show these elite schools that you are a well-rounded applicant who will bring something unique to campus. Below are some tips that will help you stand out during the admissions process.
1. Submit Your Application Early
Applying increases your odds of admission into an Ivy League school. You can apply for early decision (ED) or early action (EA). You can only apply to one school for ED, and if you are accepted you must attend that school. With EA, you can apply to multiple schools and you don’t have to attend if you are accepted.
2. Research the Ivy League Schools
Spend some time researching the different Ivy League schools so that you can focus on a few target schools. While all the Ivy League schools are known for their rigorous courses, they don’t all offer the same programs. Make sure you know which schools offer the programs you are interested in and that you know the admissions requirements for those programs.
3. Keep Your Grades Up
Excellent grades are crucial to getting into an Ivy League school. If you didn’t get good grades in your first years of high school, showing improvement in your school career over time can demonstrate your commitment to academics and help your chances of admission.
4. Get Good Standardized Tests Scores
In addition to GPA, schools use standardized test scores to sort through the applicant pool. Most schools accept either the SAT or ACT. Some schools, such as Columbia University, allow you to take these tests more than once and will evaluate only your highest test score.
5. Write an Exceptional Personal Statement
An exceptional personal statement or personal essay can do a lot for your application. This is the part of the application where you get to show the admissions committee who you are. Use your essay to show your passions, personal motivations, professional experiences, leadership qualities, and other salient virtues and experiences. Keep it simple, thoughtful, and honest.
6. Show Passion Through Extracurricular Activities
The admissions committee isn’t looking at your application to see how many activities you’ve participated in. They are looking to see where you have devoted your energy, to see depth and passion. You can be part of a band, school government, or coding group. The goal is to show the admissions officers that you will share your passion with the school community.
7. Get Involved in Community Service
Another personal experience that admissions departments want to see is involvement in community service. They want to see that you care about others and that you want to improve life for other people in your community.
8. Perform Well in Your Interview
If you have the chance to participate in an optional interview, you should absolutely take it. This gives you the opportunity to speak about your passions, interests, and motivation for seeking admission to the school. The interviewer might be someone from the admissions office or alumni community.
9. Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If you don’t know where to start, ask your high school guidance counselor. Join online communities and social media platforms that discuss admissions and stay informed. You can also ask former students of the school, the admissions department, or even a professor or course adviser at the university.
10. Stay Motivated
Applying for an Ivy League school can be strenuous and demanding, considering the thousands of other applicants competing for a few spots. Remember that you are working hard to achieve your goal. If you aren’t accepted the first time, don’t give up. Work hard at a different university for your first year and apply to transfer to an Ivy League school for your second year.
What Does It Take to Get Into Ivy League Schools?
To get into the Ivy League school of your choice, you’ll need a high GPA, stellar academic transcripts, a convincing personal essay, and participation in extracurricular activities. Details vary from school to school, but if you meet the requirements, prepare well for your interview, and stand out from the crowd, you can get accepted to an Ivy League school.
How to Get Into Ivy League Schools FAQ
Yes, you can get into an Ivy League college without straight As. Not all Ivy League students had straight As during high school. It’s more important to show that you took advanced courses and a strong course load in high school than to get straight As.
While admission depends on your overall admission profile and not just your GPA, most schools accept students with an average GPA of 4.0 or more. Some programs accept students with GPAs that range from 3.5 to 4.0.
Yes, Cornell University has in-state tuition rates for students who are New York residents and want to study at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
The coursework at Ivy League schools is difficult. You will have to work hard at these prestigious colleges to get good grades. However, if you work hard, spend time studying, and take advantage of student support services, you will do just fine.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot