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Study Abroad: How a student must successfully apply to an Ivy League institution


The Ivy League is a group of eight private institutions in the United States known for their academic excellence, reputation, and longstanding history. The Ivy League consists of eight schools: Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University.

Study Abroad: How a student must successfully apply to an Ivy League institution(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In an exclusive interview, Vibha Kagzi, founder of ReachIvy.com, who holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science degree from Carnegie Mellon University, talks of all that a student should know before applying for admission into an Ivy League school.

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What are the key expectations for Ivy League admission?

High Academic Standards: Ivy League schools command rigorous academic requirements. Applicants are typically expected to have a stellar academic record, the average GPA requirement of applicants is between 3.85 and 4.18.

Standardised Test Scores: Strong performance on standardised tests, such as the SAT or ACT, is crucial for Ivy League admissions.

Extracurricular Involvement: Ivy League institutions value well-rounded individuals who have excelled not only academically but also in extracurricular activities. Leadership roles, community service, and participation in clubs or sports are considered important.

Exceptional Essays and Letters of Recommendation: The personal essays and letters of recommendation provide insight into the applicant’s character, achievements, and potential contributions to the university community. Crafting a compelling and unique narrative is key.

Interviews: Some Ivy League schools may conduct interviews as part of the admissions process. Strong interview performance can positively influence the overall application.

Does applying early help? Is there a huge difference in Regular Decision and Early Decision acceptance rates?

Applying early can significantly improve the chances of acceptance at Ivy League institutions. Early Decision programs, which are binding, often have higher acceptance rates compared to Regular decision. The most selective colleges admit 25% to 50% of their students from the early admissions pool. In recent years, almost 40% of first-year students at Ivy League schools have been early admissions applicants.

If one were to apply early, how early should one start?

If you’re planning to apply early decision or early action, follow these steps to stay on track.

Junior Year: January–June: Take college admission tests. Use College Search to see if the colleges you’re interested in offer an early admission plan. Stay involved in extracurricular activities related to the course.

Senior Year: September–October: Download or request early decision or early action applications from your top-choice colleges. Request letters of recommendation from your teachers, your counsellor or other references. Complete and submit any early admission applications due in October by the college deadline. Take a college admission test, if necessary. For example, you must take the SAT by October for your scores to be available in time for early decision and early action programs. File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which opens October 1. Register for CSS Profile, if necessary.

November: Submit any early decision or early action applications due in November by the college deadline. Complete and submit regular admission applications. File the CSS Profile and all other required financial aid forms. Review all requirements and deadlines for financial aid applications. Get all your documentation ready to send when requested.

December–January: If necessary, compare offers. Decide which school to attend.

Name the best faculty of each of the 8 Ivy League institutions.

Harvard University: Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, etc.

Yale University: Yale School of Management, Yale Law School, Yale School of Medicine, Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, etc.

Princeton University: Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton Graduate School, etc.

University of Pennsylvania: Wharton School of Business, Penn Law, Perelman School of Medicine, School of Engineering and Applied Science, etc.

Columbia University: Columbia Business School, Columbia Law School, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, etc.

Cornell University: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell Law School, Weill Cornell Medicine, Graduate School, etc.

Dartmouth College: Tuck School of Business, Geisel School of Medicine, Graduate Studies Program, etc.

Brown University: Brown School of Public Health, Brown University Graduate School, etc.

How expensive are Ivy League colleges?

Annual tuition fees for Ivy League schools range from $76,000 to $85,000. While Ivy League education can be expensive, the institutions are dedicated to ensuring that admitted students can afford to attend through need-based financial aid. It’s essential for prospective students to thoroughly research and understand the financial aid policies of each Ivy League school and explore all available options to make their education financially feasible.

How easy/difficult is it to get scholarships? What’s the best way to go about it?

Complete the Financial Aid Application: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any additional financial aid forms required by each university.

Check Institutional Policies: Understand the financial aid policies of each Ivy League school, as they may have different procedures and deadlines.

Demonstrate Need: Provide accurate information about family finances to demonstrate financial need.

Merit Scholarships: While rare, some Ivy League schools may offer merit-based scholarships or awards for exceptional achievements.

External Scholarships: Explore external scholarship opportunities from private organisations, foundations, and community groups.

Work-Study Programs: Consider on-campus work-study programs offered by universities as a way to contribute to educational costs.

Apply for Grants: Explore grants and research opportunities within your chosen field of study.



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