- No matter the application package you submit, your toughest competition will simply be numbers. Ivy League schools receive thousands of applications every year, making them highly competitive. In 2010, more than 30,000 students applied to Harvard College; only 2,205 got in, indicating an acceptance rate of just over seven percent. Princeton University's acceptance rate was not much higher -- 8.8 percent in 2010.
High School Grades
- Academic excellence is a must for applicants to Ivy League schools. These schools hold their applicants to the highest academic standards, meaning you should take the most challenging courses available, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. Yale University explains that the high school transcript is "the most important document in a student's application." While most Ivy League schools don't have minimum GPA requirements, applicants should have a strong GPA in a rigorous curriculum. In the Dartmouth College class of 2014, more than 32 percent of students were valedictorians, and another 9 percent were salutatorians.
- Colleges across the country require their applicants to take standardized tests, and Ivy League schools are no exception. Again, high SAT or ACT scores are essential for Ivy League applicants. At Princeton University, for example, the middle 50 percent of admitted students earned a 690 to 790 on the SAT critical reading, 710 to 790 on the SAT math and 700 to 790 on the SAT writing. ACT scores ranged from a 31 to a 35.
- Ivy League schools see thousands of applicants with the academic credentials to get in, so they have to distinguish these students in some way. Essays and letters of recommendation, which Ivy League schools require, give the admissions committee insight into your goals and personality. Don't submit a run-of-the-mill essay; your essay should highlight ways you've helped your community or ways you can contribute to the university community. Find teachers who know you well and can testify to your academic and personal achievements to write your letters of recommendation.