“The path to the Ivy League is most successfully traveled through exclusive private schools,” according to CBS Market Watch. In fact, their research showed that of the 100 U.S. high schools sending the highest percentage of students to Harvard, Yale and Princeton, 94 of them are private schools.
The good news for local parents is that three of the schools in Business Insider Magazine’s 2016, 25 Best Private High Schools in US for Getting into a Top College, are in the LA area. One local private high school sent a whopping 30% of their 2015-16 graduates to the Ivy League, MIT or Stanford.
Of course, attending a private high school alone does not ensure that a student will get into a top tier college. Colleges are looking for students with solid academic foundations to equip them for the academic rigors they will face once admitted. Whether they attend a private or public school, they have to prove that they can excel in the classroom. 95% of accepted Ivy League students are in the top 10% of their classes.
How can someone make him or herself into the strongest possible candidate for the Ivy League, or any top college? There are a few simple keys:
- High grades and test scores
- Something of value to bring to the school’s community
- Strong reasons why that particular school will enable you to grow.
First and foremost, highly competitive colleges want to see that a student has tackled the most difficult courses a school has to offer. Some students pile up double-digit AP course loads. If a school doesn’t offer enough, or any, AP classes, students can study independently and take the AP exams. They can also take advanced classes concurrently at a community college. Now that shows ambition!
Coursework isn’t everything. Students should find an extra-curricular activity of interest and delve deeply. It may take a few tries before they find something they feel passionately about, but once they do, it’s to their advantage to dedicate themselves to it throughout their school years. Encourage them to join clubs, play sports, take summer classes, look for internship opportunities, write articles, have an art showing, or enter competitions. Whether it’s aerodynamics, environmental design, or screenwriting, nothing impresses like competitive success.
Finally, a student should be able to demonstrate real interest in the college or university. Students should take the time to visit, really visit, their schools of choice. They should determine which classes they would like to take, the professors they would most like to study with and the advantages that a particular school can offer them. This knowledge will not only help them choose the best fit, but also allow them to more convincingly make their case to the admissions office in both their essays and interviews.
Of course, nothing is a guarantee of admission to your first choice school, but these tips are certainly a start down that road. My advice – start early!
Janis Adams is the Founder/CEO of Academic Achievers, “KinderPrep® to College Prep”. She has raised 3 children and each was accepted into the Ivy Leagues.