What Admissions Officers Don’t Tell You About the Ivy League

Before you plan your entire future around getting into an Ivy League university, we want you to understand exactly what goes into making the admissions decision. Unfortunately, no admissions process is perfect, so getting in or not may not be because of something you did or did not do. Why? There are three main reasons.




Ivy Leagues recruit! And like all smart recruiters, they send encouraging notes to more people than they want to accept. You or your friends may have received one of these from schools like Dartmouth or Princeton, but those glossy brochures do not guarantee acceptance. The inside look luring you into campus life is supposed to make you want to apply—just like all the other people they send these pamphlets to, from testing centers like SAT or ACT that provide them with lists of thousands of top scorers.


Ivy Leagues like to keep their acceptance rates low. Because Ivy League schools like Harvard like to boat on their extremely low 5% acceptance rate, they promote applying to as many qualified students as they can contact. This means that every year, many students who meet the requirements to get in are rejected because of arbitrary reasons. To retain their reputation of selectivity and high position in rankings, they must keep their acceptance rates low.


Ivy Leagues change their minds. Each year Ivy League admissions officers are faced with the hard job of selecting the few students who get acceptance letters, and each year, they look for different characteristics. Yale may have never had a student from Montenegro, and if there are two identically qualified and exemplary applications, but one student is from New York City and one is from Montenegro, the New York student goes into the rejection pile. Perhaps Columbia’s campus orchestra just graduated a few cellists and asks admissions for more. Next year, though, it may be violinists! Brown could have heard about a groundbreaking high school in Vietnam and is dying to accept a student from it, or has an upcoming conference and would like representation from a country like Costa Rica.


Acceptance to top schools sometimes boils down to luck, even when you meet all the academic criteria. Once qualified, it is up to your year’s quotas and your school’s specific needs on whether or not you’re accepted. Yet if you have required exam scores and determination there are ways to significantly help your luck along. Contact us at info@cogitoworldeducation.org to learn more, and click here to learn about everything you can do to better your chances for getting a coveted spot in an Ivy League.

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