Stanford or Ivy League Schools

Updated on December 30, 2011
R.M. asks from Fulton, CA
12 answers

Does anyone know someone who has been accepted to an Ivy League or Stanford recently? What did it take for them to get in? My kid's applying and we need all the tips we can get.

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answers from Tulsa on

My friend's son got accepted with scholarships for academics to Stanford. He plans on becoming a doctor and included details about ways he observed and helped his dad, a doctor, while on a mission trip.
He also was involved heavily in 2 activities and a leader in both. He was valedictorian and scored very high on both the SAT and ACT. His reference letters all documented how he worked hard, helped others, and would be an asset to Stanford. Alumni sent letters on his behalf as well.
He loves being challenged academically. Also, his parents let them know they have money.

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answers from San Antonio on

I don't want to sound negative, but minority group status is what gets the job done.
My son was #4 in a class of over 600, had lots of leadership, community service & a perfect ACT score. He is a white male. And he wanted to go into engineering at Stanford or MIT.

# 6 in his class is a girl whose great, great grandfather was Latino, she had good scores, but not as high as my sons. She had leadership, but not 150 hours of community service. She wanted to study psychology and got in to Stanford with a $15,000 a yr scholarship.
My son got wait listed.

Caucasians are at a disadvantage right now in US colleges and universities. And Caucasian males have a harder time than females.

We learned the hard way and had a very stressful yr with some huge disappointments for my son, who is a hard worker. I hope and pray some day soon the situation changes back to where the whole "ethnic group" section of a college application goes away. It is a shame that it is there and used the way it is.

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answers from Austin on

I want to add, Our daughter was not even in the top 10% of her Public High School Graduating class.

She had excellent grades, but not all A's. I always told her I wanted her to be challenged and if she made all A's, that would tell me she was not being challenged enough.

We do know 2 of her friends old classmates from HS that are now in Graduate School at Stanford. One attended Rice University and the other University of Texas. These students are excited to be at Stanford to actually be able to really do research and study with the senior Professors. So IF your child is not accepted this time.. Graduate School is always a possibility too. Just something to keep in mind.

Our daughter applied to 9 top tier colleges and was accepted to all of them. All of them with Large scholarships and most of them with the Presidential Scholarships to these schools.

She had a lot of interests.

She took all Pre Ap and Ap classes in High school that she could take and continued to take full load her Senior year.

She was a National Merit Scholar

She was a Presidential Volunteer of the year since 4 years in High School.

She is a published Photographer
She is a published Artist

She was on the Austin Rowing Team and won a Silver medal at the Oklahoma National Rowing competition.

She had different job experiences.

Her letters of Recommendations were from her School Principal, One of her AP Language Arts teachers and One of her AP History Teachers. Also because she studied art in high school, one of her Art Instructors. .

But what I think set her apart was her Essay. It was funny and smart.

I had read an article about the people that read the essays and sit on the Admissions committees.

It said they read so many that speak about their devotion to their church, to their country.. That they love learning.. blah, blah blah.. but the ones that stand out are the ones that the student talks about themselves. Where the student speaks about what it is like to be a teen. What they have learned. What makes them laugh, what they have experienced good and bad.

Our daughters was titled.. "I am not a Hick" She spoke about how we have never had lots of money and we end up in these funny situations and she has always felt like, she was placed with a strange group of people. She felt like she should be in another place because she swears she is not like these people she grew up around.. She did this with tongue in cheek, but very clever. And to "please get her out of here." She spoke about what she hoped to learn and experience in a different place.

And so depending on what your child is considering as a college, they may want to give insight into who they are and what motivates them. What inspires them and examples of situations they have been in.

Colleges really do look for students that will bring something to the school, but also will be comfortable and add to the campus. They like diversity.

Very exciting time for all of you.. I will be sending you all good thoughts!!!!

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answers from Denver on

okay, so please dont laugh at my response, my kids are 4 and 1 so I dont have any experience but I was watching a show once about genius kids or something and this one was trying to get into an ivy league school and he did not get in. He was amazingly smart, took like all AP classes and had A's in all of them etc...but that was it. He did not have any volunteer time logged or outside clubs or sports or anything unique to him. He was just like all the other kids applying to an Ivy league school so he did not stand out. I think those schools look into how well rounded they are as well as the grades. So your kid needs to be involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities and really do something that makes them stand out. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

A friend does interviews for Brown and says that she wants to hear a student tell her why he or she wants *Brown* over other schools. What is unique about Brown that will make it a good fit for the student, and what about the student would make him or her a fit for Brown.

Ivy League and elite schools could literally fill every freshman class with valedictorians who have perfect SAT scores and 4.0 averages, but they don't. Not all of those "perfect on paper" kids get in, and other "very good but not perfect" do get in. The kids I've tutored for SATs who got into schools like Yale, Princeton, and Georgetown had high SAT scores (2300+) but not perfect. They had strong grades, took the most rigorous courses that they could, but didn't necessarily have 4.0 averages and none were valedictorians (they were in the top 3-5% if their classes in very competitive schools). All did some sort of activity and were top-level at it - one girl was a coxswain on an elite boys' rowing team, another was an award-winning singer, and a boy was a champion skier. All did either paid work or volunteer work, and several had travel experience. All also had money, and one has a Pulitzer-prize-winning grandfather who is a professor at the school she went to. takes the proverbial "well-rounded" student at a very high level, or extraordinary skill in something very interesting, or extraordinary circumstances to stand out from the crowd. Hopefully your son has taken a rigorous course load, has done some volunteer work, and has some activity to which he has been dedicated and is passionate about as well has very high standardized test scores.'s kind of last minute to be getting in applications. Hopefully your son already has his well underway and has finished his essays, his supplements, has requested his recommendations and transcripts months ago, etc. and is just finishing up the final details. Good luck to him (and you!) as he finishes this process!

ETA: as a general rule, it is now harder for girls to get into schools than it is for boys. Women made up 57% of college students 5 years ago and that is expected to reach 60% in the next 5 years. The majority of qualified applicants are girls, but campuses where there is a gender imbalance are generally not desirable, so in order to balance classes, many schools are accepting boys with lower credentials so that they can fill more seats with boys and try to keep some sort of gender balance. Of course this varies from school to school and there are disciplines that have always attracted an imbalanced male/female ratio (nursing and teaching are predominantly women, engineering attracts more men), but in an ever-more-competitive environment, boys are generally having an easier time getting admitted to elite liberal arts colleges than girls are who have the same qualifications. So far, this does not appear to hold true at the Ivy level, where reports indicate that schools admit the same % of male and female applicants from their pool.

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answers from Seattle on

Great personal experience and advice already given here

My personal experience is that the tide is changing, and being in the majority group of the academically gifted, well-rounded Caucasian males is not as exclusionary as it once was.

My husband went to Stanford & Yale. I have a niece who graduated from Johns Hopkins and will be attending Med School this year. She is still interviewing and is currently undecided as she has already received a few acceptance letters. I have another niece at Washington University. We have lots of friends from Harvard, Yale, UC schools, Harvey Mudd. I think all of them are quite unique and there is not a cookie cutter quality to any of them.

They all had or have the ability to set themselves apart in some unique area.

These schools are looking for leaders, Type A personalities, people who are willing to take risks, be committed, follow through against many odds.

These schools are not looking for KG through BS / BA with straight A's only. There needs to be years of Varsity letters, or Chief Editor of the school newspaper, or journalism awards, or published art, or successful community programs that service the poor or immigrants, fluent in a 2nd language, foreign travel for charity, etc.


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answers from San Francisco on

I teach at a community college. Before that I was the English department director for the Educational Program for Gifted Youth at Stanford. Many of our students (highly gifted elementary-high school students) ended up getting into Stanford and other Ivy League schools (multiple offers).

I just want to let you know that you should not be too disappointed if your son does not get into the Ivy of his choice. Check to see if your community college has a honors program. If it does, have him enroll in it and then get him to find out what his passion is. That way he will be a strong candidate when it comes time to transfer to a university, which may or may not be an Ivy depending on what he wants to study. Our honors program is relatively new but we are transferring students to some of the best universities in the nation.

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answers from Washington DC on

You need perfect SAT or ACT scores. You need a 4.0+. You need varsity letters, community service, and more. You need to have something different in your application. You need to be "different" and "special".
That said, if you are a female who wants to study Math or Physics, you have a much better shot. If you are a pearly white male with all the qualifications, you may not have as good a shot - unless you are different in some way. Do you fence? Do you dance? Do you play the accordion... they are looking for well-rounded, A student, individuals...
My kids are top in their class. We decided long ago that Ivy League for undergrad is a waste of money. They will choose their school based on what they like, what they want to study, and what we can afford (and preferably stay in state). Then - they will work hard and do well in their undergrad classes so that they can apply to Ivy League for Graduate School. The schools are big. They don't need to be "a number" as undergrads. They are still young... Some kids can handle the pressure, but why should they??
This is what works for us. YMMV

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answers from Houston on

I'm not an ivy league grad BUT I did work in Princeton, NJ for a while and worked w/an office full of Princeton grads along w/our boss, a reknowned MIT grad, and the one thing I noticed w/all of them is that they were all very "quirky" and a little weird (my apologies to any Princeton grads out there!) But they were problem solvers and very creative thinkers, which I think made them stand out when they applied there.

I also know someone who has served on the British Parliment - again, he is a very quirky and very weird man, but a loving and devoted father and husband.

gl! I only hope I can be asking the same thing when my son starts considering college.

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answers from Dallas on

Our School system has college night once in the fall where at least 200 colleges come in to talk to students, including Ivy League. That was informative if you have the opportunity to do that.

My daughter is looking at Duke.

We've been to 4 info presentations, including 1 campus tour. The info sessions are SO full of info that it takes going to more than 1 to get all the info.

Of course they are looking for good grades but they are also looking for real life experiences including failures. They love someone with high goals in mind, someone who has been involved in the community and someone who is well rounded.

At this point, she plans to apply for early decision which means if she is accepted, that's it and that's where she is going. BUT, if you are not accepted at early admission (about 30% of the freshman class is early admission) your application goes to the regular admission reviews.

This is info we have from Duke.

She is a Jr right now, great grades, AP classes, involved in her school, community, a cheerleader and violinist.

She has talked about Stanford and Georgetown but we have not made campus visits at this time.

Do you know anyone affiliated with the college, who "reads" for your child's entries? We know someone who's job is to "read" for a couple of good colleges and he will read daughter's apps before she submits anything.

Good luck... this is a busy, exciting process!

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answers from San Francisco on

I boy I baby-sat for went to Stanford. He was exceptional at track. He now runs for Adidas. I went to UCLA for a while, not the colleges your asking about, but I think it might have helped that I wrote an essay that was controversial. I can't be sure if that made a difference, but my ex-boyfriend, who went there, read me his essay and it had a very strong point of view as well.

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answers from Milwaukee on

My sisters niece goes to Stanford. She started in extremely expensive private schools, they are billionaires, she is ethnic & her parents went to ivy league. Otherwise, nothing more stands out about her. Grades are good but she is not a quirky brainiac.

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