When it comes to higher education, most people dream of getting into the Ivy Leagues. After all, the eight schools in the league — Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University — are the best in the US and arguably some of the best in the world.
Although the Ivy League “officially” consists of those eight schools, many others continually rank top in the country and the world. These schools are just as prestigious, and as a result, they can afford to be just as selective when it comes to admissions. Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are just two examples of these schools.
It only makes sense that you would want to do your graduate studies in an Ivy League or another otherwise just as prestigious school since it might just increase your chances of success in your chosen career.
The problem is, it’s not always easy getting into the top schools in the US. You won’t be the only one vying for a spot in one of these prestigious schools’ programs. There will be tons of competition, and more often than not, you’ll be going up against other applicants whose backgrounds are, in a word, intimidating. With such intense competition, it’s no wonder you’re here looking for tips on how to get into Ivy League grad school.
In this article, we’ve put together the top five tips that might just help you achieve your dreams. They won’t guarantee an acceptance letter in your mailbox, but they might just increase your chances.
Top 5 Tips: How to Get into Ivy League Grad School
Talk to Someone Who Has
Whether you’re considering trying to get into the Ivy Leagues or you’re already in the process of doing so, one thing’s for certain: no amount of reading articles and seeking tips will give you the kind of advice you’ll get from someone who’s experienced the whole thing before.
One of the best things you can do when working towards getting into graduate school is speaking with someone who’s applied and gotten in recently. If it’s possible to talk to someone who got into the specific program in the particular school you’re trying to get into, all the better.
The best insight comes from people who have successfully overcome hurdles that you might be facing in the future.
Plan and Apply for Grad School Early
If you’re here because you were searching for tips on how to get into Harvard graduate school, then you’re already on the right track. Researching and planning is a huge part of actually getting into the school you want — and since we’re on that topic, plan to apply early.
From the data given by Ivy Coach, all eight Ivy League schools have a higher acceptance rate during the early rounds of applications. The difference is significant, and it could be the difference between getting an acceptance letter in the mail or not.
What does this mean for you, you ask? Well, even if there’s no real guarantee that applying during the early admissions cycles can get you accepted, there’s no harm in giving it a shot.
Related reading: How Many Grad Schools Should I Apply To?
Don’t Focus Only on The Grades
When you’re obsessing over the Yale grad school acceptance rate or any other school’s acceptance rate for that matter, it’s easy to hyperfocus on your grades and your transcript.
Many may think that grad schools take one look at an applicant’s grades and chuck out the application if it doesn’t meet their standards. While that’s true to a degree (for example, there might be no point in applying if you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirements), excellent grades aren’t the only factor schools look at.
When putting together your curriculum vitae, it’s important to demonstrate other desirable characteristics that might make you more interesting to the school.
For example, it’s a good idea to show a certain maturity level, unique perspective, creativity, and passion in your application. What admissions panels won’t tell you is, sometimes, they’re willing to overlook an unsatisfactory grade or two if you have many other redeeming qualities.
One of the best ways to demonstrate these qualities is through your essay and your personal statement. Make sure that when you put them together, you are showing who you really are. And of course, don’t forget to proofread! Sending off your application with typographical errors and syntax mistakes can make a bad impression and lower your chances of getting in. While you’re at it, show your essay and statement to someone you trust to get their insight before the final send-off.
Explain Why You Belong There and Don’t Ignore Any Optional Sections
We’ve talked about putting together an admissions essay that makes an impression of who you are. Another thing you might want to do is demonstrate why you belong in the school you’re trying to get into. Explain in as much detail as you can why you feel drawn to the school. Do your best to highlight why the school and its ideals speak to you, your interests, and what you seek from your graduate studies.
You can also list reasons why you think the school is the best in your situation. Maybe you’re trying to get into the school because of certain faculty members you want to study under. Or perhaps that school is the only one offering the specific program or research projects you’re interested in. Include all of this in your application.
And if you come across “optional” sections in the application, don’t ignore them. They may be optional, but it’s still very recommended to fill every section out. Filling everything out may give you an edge over other applicants who chose to ignore those sections in the application.
Strong Recommendation Letters
Recommendation letters can make a huge impact on your chances of getting into the school you want. It only makes sense to try and make these recommendation letters as unique and memorable as possible to help differentiate your application from the others. Although you should never dictate what a recommendation letter should contain, you can provide the people writing your letters of recommendation some unique information and details.
For example, if you have any experience relative to the program you’re applying to, you can tell the writer to include that information. If you have experiences that might have changed your perspectives, such as international travel or any volunteer work, that can be a good idea to share as well.
Unfortunately, putting together recommendation letters like these won’t guarantee your acceptance into your Ivy League school of choice. But, at the very least, it can give more weight to your application and differentiate you from the sea of applicants who are also vying for a coveted spot in the same program.
The Bottom Line
Getting into your Ivy League grad school of choice can be an intimidating task, but try not to talk yourself out of it!
A lot of potential applicants give up before they even begin trying because they think they’re simply not good enough to qualify, but that’s not always the reality. Although many might think that you need a 4.0 GPA to even think about getting into Harvard or Yale, the truth is, you don’t. You may not necessarily need 4.0 GPAs to get into any Ivy League school, for that matter. As long as you meet the minimum requirement to apply, you can!
Remember, the strength of your application is determined by its entirety — from your grades to your personal statement, to your admissions essay, and the recommendation letters you present. It’s all about how you present yourself and differentiate yourself from the pack.
Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, but she's a geek at heart. When she isn't busy writing, she spends her time streaming video games and learning new skills.