How to get into an Ivy League School

How to get into an Ivy League School


Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by II Editor

Getting accepted into an Ivy League school is a tremendous achievement that will open many doors for your future. However, with acceptance rates at all-time lows, it’s becoming increasingly competitive. In this post, we’ll break down the key factors admissions officers consider and provide specific strategies to strengthen your application for the 2024/2025 admissions cycle. By diligently preparing and starting your sophomore year and beyond, you can maximize your chances of admission to one of the most elite universities in the world.

Make Academic Excellence a Priority

The most important part of any college application is your academic record. Ivy League schools seek students who have challenged themselves with the most rigorous course load available. Aim to take honors, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and dual enrollment college courses every year possible. While this is a lot of work, strong and improving grades in these classes will show your dedication to learning.


Your grade point average (GPA) and class rank should ideally be in the top 10% to have a realistic shot at acceptance. Given grade inflation at many high schools, anything below a 3.9 unweighted GPA will put you at a disadvantage. Likewise, being outside the top 5-10 students in your graduating class raises concerns about your ability to handle advanced university academics.

Test scores also factor significantly into admissions decisions. For the 2024 application cycle, you should prepare to take the SAT or ACT multiple times to optimize your scores. Top Ivy League 25th-75th percentile score ranges are typically 1450-1560 for the SAT and 33-35 for the ACT composite. Studying diligently and using reputable prep materials can help raise your scores within reach of these targets.

Engage in Meaningful Extracurricular Activities

While academics come first, admissions officers want to see well-rounded applicants who contribute meaningfully outside the classroom. Engage in at least 2-4 extracurricular activities starting your freshman year that you are passionate about and can sustain a significant time commitment to through senior year.

Leadership roles in clubs, volunteer work, community service, summer programs, internships, jobs, and athletics all strengthen an application when combined with academics. Quality is better than quantity here – focus on depth of involvement rather than broad participation in many clubs. Track your hours and accomplishments to detail on your application and in recommendations.


Colleges also favor activities that utilize your skills in unique ways, such as starting your own club or business. Summer programs at Ivy institutions or Research Science Institute further set competitive applicants apart by showing early interest in the colleges. Whatever you choose, remember they must relate back to your intended major or career path.

Develop Compelling Personal Attributes

Admission essays, recommendations, and extracurriculars should together portray an applicant’s talents, character and personality. Beyond academics and activities, highlight what makes you unique through demonstrations of leadership, initiative, perseverance, creativity or service to your community. Did you overcome personal adversity or responsibly handle job/family obligations while excelling?

Colleges seek students ready to contribute their skills, ideas and diversity to campus life. Awards, honors and recognition from third parties help substantiate your personal strengths. Consider opportunities like special academic or leadership programs for high school students as venues to gain life experiences and compile compelling application narratives.

Start Early and Get Expert Support

The Ivy League application process is lengthy and detail-oriented. You should compile preliminary application materials like your resume, transcript and list of honors starting freshman year for later revisions. Spend summers advancing yourself through challenging internships, programs or research. Beginning sophomore year, take the PSAT/NMSQT to qualify for National Merit consideration and familiarize yourself with standardized test formats.

Junior year is when the heavy lifting begins. Meet with your guidance counselor at the start of the year to map out a rigorous senior class schedule and timeline for applications, essays, recommendations and testing. Utilize free essay feedback and practice interviews from mentors, college advisors or independent consultants. Thoroughly research each intended college and grasp all necessary application components.

With hard work and thoughtful planning by the fall of your senior year, you can assemble a highly compelling Ivy League application. Remember that the best candidates demonstrate sincere interest, fit and potential for success at each particular school. Your journey has just begun – now go show admissions officers why you deserve a spot in the incoming class of 2028!


Attaining admission into an Ivy League university may seem like an impossible endeavor, but thousands of students make their dreams a reality each year through diligent preparation. The keys are challenging yourself academically from an early age, gaining leadership experiences outside the classroom, and using all available resources to craft the strongest possible application materials. Starting your efforts no later than sophomore year of high school allows ample time for refinement.

Have confidence that with focus, passion and perseverance, you too can join the ranks of esteemed Ivy alumni. Focus on continuous self-improvement instead of any single application cycle. Your dynamic personal story and dedication to excellence over the course of high school will ultimately shine through. Now is the time to get started on your journey – you’ve got this! Let me know if you need any additional advice for optimizing your path to the Ivy League.


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