Creating Your Successful Ivy League College Application

Creating Your Ivy League Application

 If it’s your dream to attend an Ivy League School, it’s a dream that will take some forethought. Preparing to attend an Ivy League School is something that must be addressed and planned out well in advance of your high school career. As you enter high school, you should have an overall plan for your studies, extra curriculars, and how you want your transcripts to look for the Ivy League admissions process. We all hear about the multitudes of methods that “self proclaim” a sure fire way to get into your dream school. In reality, there is no sure fire way. However, we do know a few things for certain:

  1. Ivy League Schools are looking for individuals that stand apart or stand out, and not just academically.

  2. Ivy League Schools are looking for commitment and dedication, and clearly a passion and excellence in your field.

  3. Ivy League Schools are looking for individuals that are innovative and will be tomorrow’s leaders


Over the years many have advised college hopefuls to become well rounded students or to be good at just about everything – a Renaissance man so to speak. The old cliche “Jack of all trades, master of none.” would apply well here. The Ivy League admissions representative  is looking for those candidates that stand out as excellent. A better plan would be to pursue one or two things that you are passionate about, and pursue them with such diligence that you distinguish yourself within those fields. Attempt to be the best person in the world in your niche!


Ivy League schools want students who have shown academic excellence over time. This translates to a lifelong record of achievement and success not just a good year. When applying to colleges you’ll need to remember that each college has its strong points. Some colleges are known for a certain “niche,” use this fact to help you. Finding a college that is a good fit with your strengths will resonate with admissions.


Document all of your accomplishments throughout your high school career. If you’ve been given any awards make sure that they are documented on your permanent records. As you choose your extracurricular activities make sure that you choose wisely. Again the rule of “quality over quantity” is important to remember. Don’t join every club or activity just because you think it will look good on your transcript. Join the clubs and participate in activities you’ll enjoy, and ones in which you can make a difference. If you want the transcript to stand out, become a leader in whatever you participate. If there isn’t a club for the area you’re interested, create your own club.  Ivy League students don’t just participate; they lead, in every area.

Here is a general list of ideas for extracurricular activities that would gain the nod of the admissions department.

  • Community service or volunteer work. All of this is good, but don’t just volunteer. If you are interested in Ivy League amp it up. Add travel to your community service, such as travelling to Washington D.C. to see Congress in session, or travelling to Uganda to help establish a foreign aid outpost.

  • Sports participation is another area that could be impressive to your future school. However, if you want to impress, your sports activities should be impressive. Only include sports involvement if you were captain of the team or won awards and prizes during your stint.

  • Political involvement is an area that garners a nod from Ivy League admissions. Involvement in this area shows colleges and universities that you are concerned and engaged with the world around you. There are many ways to engage in this area. Choose a cause, choose a reputable organization to get involved with, and then try to activate change.

  • Participate in competitions. If you can win a prestigious competition in your theme of study, you won’t have to demonstrate your aptitude the award will do it for you.

  • Finding a job or internship is a great way to impress on your transcript. This shows that you are serious about pursuing your field. The key here is to find a job or internship that is directly related to your educational pursuits. For example, if you get a job selling perfume that will do nothing to help you get into an Ivy League School. Make sure the job is associated and will give you experience in your “niche.”

  • Excel at music or drama. If your strengths lie in the areas of music or drama then find a way to refine those and become a leader in your niche. If you plan on studying this area in college then by all means pour your efforts here. However, if this is just a side enjoyment or hobby, you may want to consider something less time consuming while pouring your efforts into your main study.

  • Many students get involved in the school newspaper. This is truly a worthy aspiration, but “Ivy League”rs don’t just leave it there. Become an editor or start a column that is directly related to your focus of study.

  • Write a research paper addressing your focus of study. The research paper has become almost expected by most admission counselors. It demonstrates a level of dedication and passion about the theme of study, and is usually included in the additional materials section of the application. Make it one step better by actually submitting your work and getting it published by a journal.


As you prepare yourself to begin this journey keep in mind that Ivy League schools consistently look at more than just academics. They view the whole person over their whole life. The academics of the Ivy League transcript will have to be excellent, but will also need to include: accomplishments, any extra curricular activities that demonstrated leadership abilities, any extra curricular activities that exemplified outstanding scholarship, as well as any competitions and awards that have been won. Begin as early as possible, and document all of your experiences, opportunities, and successes throughout your high school career. Make your transcripts shine by truly representing you, your strengths, and how well you’ll fit in your dream Ivy League School. We wish you the best of luck!


Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been an integral part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional schooling and homeschooling became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, remote project manager, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 11-17) in southern Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience and help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]

December 26, 2016


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