What does it take to get into Stanford University/Ivy League schools?

There is no pure magic formula….no valedictorian stripe, GPA, SAT/ACT score, or number of AP tests that guarantee you a spot at the most elite schools in the world. It is a special combination of things that earns one that admission letter. Stanford University in the last 5 years has rejected 69% of students that applied with perfect 2400 SAT scores. Having worked with numerous students that have gotten into Stanford and Ivy League schools I will say that although it is difficult to define in a few words…..perhaps like trying to explain quantum physics in three words or less……..it is possible to identify it when you see it. Here are a few of the consistent qualities of students that I have seen admitted to the most elite schools in the nation:

  1. Demonstrated passion – An almost obsessive …megalomaniac….driving interest that takes up many hours a week outside of studies……the first thing that they think of in the morning and the last thing they think of at night…..and something that wakes them up in between. Students that I have helped get admitted to elite universities have been Olympic Trials qualifiers with 4.8 GPAs and SAT tests over 2000, another had multiple audiences with the Dali Lhama while espousing a love for salsa dancing, another played softball but had a passion for chemistry, another had perfect ACT scores and SAT Subject test scores while spending hours behind a telescope in their back yard, another was a valedictorian at a large public school who had an amazing sense of humor and was a Science Olympiad fanatic, another was by all accounts a tap dancing/math nerd who was getting her Equity card while reading Astro-physics magazines backstage, another was an international chess champion who also fenced, another had published an article in a national magazine but was struggling a bit with her Calc class, another had participated in an internship at T-Gen and had become one of the authors of a paper being published in a medical review, another…..as you can see…..passion motivated by a love for something not “required or recommended by school” but because they LOVED it.

  2. Know who they are – Without reservation students with Ivy League aspirations have direction……they may not know exactly what they are going to major in but they have shown that they know their own strengths and weaknesses and have not followed the pack, but rather their hearts. Not only do they know who they are…..they are not afraid or can not be intimidated away from being that core individual. It may not be cool in some places to be a Highlands Scottish dancer, especially if you are a boy……the kilt and all…..but if they love it and have become accomplished at it,…… they proclaim it…..they may teach it…..they become virtuosos at it. They may have a celtic knot bumper sticker on their car. They don’t care what others think because they are set on being one of the best in the world at it.


  • Academic Vitality- #Curiosity-

  • Rigor of Study

  • Commitment to Excellence

  • GRIT

  • Essay Voice

  • Leadership

  • Genuine Pursuit

  • Uniqueness

  • Sports and Legacy factor

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