What kind of students get into Ivy league?

Do IVY league colleges have a preference for a certain type of applicant? Do they prefer toppers, all-rounders or creatives? Find out here about what kinds of students get into Ivy League.


Everyone thinks that Ivy league accepts only toppers or academically strong students. And while there’s some truth to this sentence, it doesn’t explain why all toppers won’t get admitted to Ivy League. And why sometimes just an above-average student may get a spot.

From our conversations with admission consultants and successful Ivy league applicants, we identified common traits that successful candidates have.

What Kinds of Students Get into Ivy league?

Ivy league colleges don't just admit all A-grade students. They also look at an applicant’s extra-curricular activities. Basically, they like to know what the student did during their free time during school or at work.
Ivy league colleges look for confident candidates. Confidence, however, has to be shown with examples in recommendation letters, or through extra-curricular activities. For example, have you participated in any public-speaking events, or led any school clubs, or shown any entrepreneurial qualities?
Joe Blitzstein, Professor at Harvard University, mentions that a good application should show, “a trajectory where the student has challenged himself or herself, deeply investing in the learning process (beyond as well as in the classroom) rather than merely having good grades. ”

So let’s take a look at these personality traits and qualities one by one:


1. Hardworking


In most Ivy league colleges, the course-load is immense. Readings, class notes, assignments, presentations and case-studies prep, there’s a lot going on everyday.

And on top of that, there’s no dearth of extra-curricular activities available for every type of student. Furthermore, on-campus socialization activities and guest lectures leave little time even for meals! So it’s no surprise that Ivy league colleges would only want to admit students who can take all this. Both emotional strength and academic is required for dealing with the competitive and busy environment.

2. Well-Rounded


Ivy league colleges don't just admit all A-grade students. They also look at an applicant’s extra-curricular activities. Basically, they like to know what the student did during their free time during school or at work. They prefer all-rounded students, since they are measuring an applicant’s potential for success. And success doesn’t only depend on your hard work, but also other qualities like networking abilities, grit, team-work and more. So an inclusion of activities or merits on your application that exhibit these traits can make your application stronger.


3. Exceptional or Unique Among Peers


Ivy league colleges are few of the topmost universities in the world. So they get to choose truly extraordinary applicants. And this is where your personal essay or recommendation letter comes into play. They are looking for examples that show why you are the right choice amongst all applicants that have a similar profile as yours.

For example, many students from India who have similar academic or work experience as yours are applying for the same program. So preference would be for a student whose application really stands out. It is, hence, important for candidates to be self aware. They must know what’s special in their profile and showcase their strengths.

4. Interesting & Coherent Story or Personality


An application is never looked at in bits and pieces by the admissions office. It’s always judged as a whole package, including test scores, grades, recommendations and essay. Preference is for students whose application can showcase the personality of the student properly and holistically. So your background, personality traits, abilities and merits should all be highlighted.

Additionally, your application should also showcase an interesting story. For example, if you have taught poor students in slums in your free time, or participated in events of great importance, etc.

5. Smart or Sensible


Most ivy league universities prefer students who are not only academically strong, but are also smart. They are also judging your common sense and IQ, not just your grades or test scores. They want students who can exhibit problem-solving abilities or creative thinking.

6. Confident (But Not Arrogant)


Confidence is something that comes through merits, self-motivation and practice. Confidence  shows that one is brave, and will not be afraid of life’s future challenges. Ivy league colleges want confident students, as this will not only help them balance the work-life balance easily, but also help them succeed in life.

Confidence, however, has to be shown with examples in your recommendation letters, or through your extra-curricular activities. For example, have you participated in any public-speaking events, or led any school clubs, or shown any entrepreneurial qualities?

7. Focused


Student's application should show a focus. This is one of the most important traits, but often overlooked. A lack of focus will show in your application easily. For example, applying to too many programs, or having contradictory traits showcased in your application, or having way too many extra-curricular activities in your resume.

So make sure your application showcases that you have a focus in life. That you’ve chosen a clear path and are on it. Your interests and end-goal should be very clear to the admissions office, through your choice of program, your extra-curriculars and your other things.

8. Passionate


A lack of passion makes one’s personality dull and unimaginative, and makes a person easily distracted. Passion is the basis of self-motivation, which results in grit, perseverance and hard-work. And these eventually lead to success. So Ivy league colleges prefer passionate students.

Your passion should be directly related to your life’s ambition. Additionally, your application should exhibit that you’re driven by it and that’s why you’re working towards your goal. Joe Blitzstein, Professor in the Harvard Statistics department, who is involved in Harvard graduate admissions, mentioned “We are looking for people with demonstrated achievements in, passion for, and potential for success in the field.”

9. Curious


Ivy League colleges love students who love to learn, as the university experience is all about learning.

Joe Blitzstein also mentions in the same Quora answer, that a good application should show, “a trajectory where the student has challenged himself or herself, deeply investing in the learning process (beyond as well as in the classroom) rather than merely having good grades. ”

30 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All