How to Get Into an Ivy League


Alaa El Bouzrati

What does it take to get into an Ivy League? This is perhaps the most burning question on the High School seniors’ minds. It seems as though there has been a general consensus that what is required is written in black and white – according to a quick Google search, all you need to do is maintain at least a 4.0 GPA throughout High School, have a wide range of extracurricular activities and leadership, do something outside of school, and of course, craft the perfect essay, otherwise known as your “sob story.” This seems one-dimensional, right? Perhaps with diligence and determination, you can get into an Ivy League with that “holistic” application of yours. 

But there are quite a few things that lie in the grey area. Let’s delve into the hypothetical yet cliché situation. For as long as you can remember, you have always dreamt of going to an Ivy League school; who hasn't? You have even gone to the extent of planning your precious adolescent years around not only fulfilling the requirements but going above and beyond to impress your dream school. You’ve calculated the combination of classes to grant you the highest GPA. You’ve spent your summers visiting colleges and completing their programs. You’ve participated in every club at your school, and you’ve fought hard to earn a spot in at least one Honor Society. You've accomplished remarkable projects, taken prep classes, showed engagement with the university, and you’ve managed to do something bigger than yourself. Trilingual? A musician? Resilient? That’s all you. With all this up your sleeve, your spot in an Ivy League is practically guaranteed. You are the perfect student. 

But then the worst-case scenario happens. Because, unfortunately, this philosophy only works in theory. Years of yearning, hard work, and sleep deprivation, only to open that dreaded email from the school you spent years dreaming about that begins with “Thank you for your application, but unfortunately...” Why? Well, it turns out that you didn’t pity the college enough into accepting you through your college essay and didn’t find the cure to cancer! 

So, what’s the hype then? With acceptance rates lower than the number of seniors who aren’t stressed right now fused with such impossible expectations, why does the Ivy League, simply just a group of eight universities, deserve such supremacy? This exact supremacy becomes dangerous when it influences students, as sometimes this seems to be the only fuel for a false sense of self-worth, doing nothing more than inflating their egos with the air of superiority.

Some may continue to argue that they deserve this eminence simply because they are in the Ivy League, which is what makes them prestigious. But what about Stanford? MIT? Oxford? The University of Toronto? None of those are members of the Ivy League yet are some of the world’s highest-ranked universities. We, as a society, seem to value hubris over humility. We subsist on the notion that the Ivy League provides the only path towards modernity. So, if you ever feel intrigued by the Ivy League, ask yourself whether you are applying for the education, or is it just the name?