How To Make a Standout IVY College Application?

There’s no denying that the competition for college admissions has risen recently. Securing a desired position at the most prominent colleges no longer depends solely on achieving high test scores and maintaining good grade point averages. The sheer quantity of bright students vying for a small number of spots has raised the bar considerably and made admissions committees more selective in their evaluation of candidates’ qualifications. That’s why learning how to make a standout IVY college application could drastically improve your chances of success.

The days of practically assuring admittance with merely exceptional academic records and scores on standardized tests are long gone. The selective institutions of today demand a broad application that emphasizes a varied presentation of achievements, extracurricular activities, and distinctive personal qualities. To stand out from the flood of stellar applications, prospective students must devise original strategies to showcase their unique selling proposition and present a convincing case for admission to their ideal university. Students could utilize these techniques to make engaging and distinctive applications:

Don’t be afraid to be yourself! 

Although the entrance standards for all the Ivy Leagues are similar, they differ in terms of learning styles and cultures. When they try to fit the profile of the university instead of choosing one that fits their goals and values, many candidates for Ivy League schools fall short of their expectations.

Research should be done. And which university appeals to you? 

Does it offer classes and initiatives designed to challenge and improve you? 

This campus type—what is it? 

Which college—one in a major city or one in a suburban area—would you rather attend? 

If your comments are clear and concise, your application will reflect your excitement for the school or schools of your choice.

Make the right class selections for high school. 

It should come as no surprise that admissions officers will use the classes you choose to take to gain additional insight into your high school background. Colleges are genuinely interested in your course history and your performance in each. It is, in fact, a major factor in admissions decisions. Almost all universities will be attentively examining this issue, even though there are many other significant elements at play. 

In your opinion, what does this mean? It is advisable that you create a strong four-year plan during your first two years of high school. Now is the perfect time to buckle down if you are a junior or senior. Your decision to select the best coursework will undoubtedly be aided by having a broad notion of what you want to study in college. 

Keep it Relevant and Practical: 

For instance, in addition to geometry and algebra, you will need to take advanced math and calculus classes if you want to become an engineer. Perhaps you should enroll in a few more classes during the summer so that you have enough time to absorb everything. Planning should start as soon as possible if science is your thing. Making a schedule for your classes based on this will enable you to enroll in advanced courses during your junior or senior year. 

Deciding on a career path at this young age is not necessary, but it is always best to be prepared. Having just started high school, it can be easy to forget about long-term planning. When you’re this age, four years seems like forever. Unfortunately, your current course load will ultimately influence your future capacity to select courses that align with your college objectives. It is definitely worthwhile to schedule a time to talk about a strategy as soon as possible with your guidance counselor and parents. 

Get going early. 

Applying for scholarships should begin as soon as the materials are made available. Since most colleges have already released their prompts and requirements, seniors should now be working with families and counselors to finalize their college lists, keeping track of the requirements for each college’s application, and preparing essays. Errors and needless stress are the results of working on applications at the last minute.

Essays and Personal Statements

Remain true to who you are. Admissions officers can usually tell when an essay isn’t authentic. The following techniques for developing intriguing and distinctive applications:

Tips & Techniques for Authenticity

  1. Personal Voice: Speak and elocution in your own voice. Steer clear of overly formal or clichéd language that isn’t your own.
  2. Honesty: Share real stories and emotions. Authenticity comes through when you write honestly about your experiences and feelings.
  3. Specificity: Use specific examples and details to illustrate your points. Vague or generic statements can feel impersonal and unconvincing.
  4. Thoughtful Thoughts: Express self-awareness by reflecting on the lessons you’ve learned from the experiences and how they’ve shaped you.
  5. Honest Motivation: Write about topics that genuinely thrill and fascinate you. Writing from the heart conveys enthusiasm and genuine interest, which is what makes it compelling.
  6. Vulnerability: Talk about your struggles, shortcomings, and failures without fear. Admissions officers like resiliency and honesty and sharing your experiences might help them get a fuller sense of your personality.
  7. Make sure your essays correspond with the rest of your application. When your character and achievements come together in your essays, activities, and recommendations, it strengthens your belief of authenticity.

It is recommended that students demonstrate their arguments using specific instances and anecdotes, rather than merely restating their own traits or achievements. 

  • Use Detailed Information: Provide an incident where your dedication was obvious rather than just saying, “I am a dedicated student.” For example, “I spent countless nights at the library, often staying until closing time, to master the complexities of quantum physics.”
  • Tell a Story: Construct a tale that displays your best traits. 
  • Emphasize Impact: Illustrate how your actions have an impact. If you would like to demonstrate your community contribution, specify the precise ways in which your work has made an impact. Think back on your experiences and discuss what you learned. If you overcame an obstacle, explain how it helped you develop personally.

Aim not to impress too much. 

It can be tempting to appear as impressive as possible when applying to colleges, as most people like to overstate their achievements. That makes sense, particularly if your chosen college has fierce competition. Honesty is more noteworthy than awards and honors, although they are still very much appreciated.

Your life experiences themselves, the lessons you took away from them, and even the mistakes you made along the way, rather than a list of achievements, demonstrate the process of becoming an adult. You may benefit more in the long term from writing about how you overcome personal obstacles. Less important than these activities themselves is how your accomplishments have shaped who you are.

Respond to any extra questions that are optional. 

Students must showcase as much of themselves and their accomplishments as they can on their college applications, which is one of the biggest hurdles. As a result, they have to seize any chance to highlight various aspects of their accomplishments and personalities. In a supplemental essay section, it’s safe to assume that the optional questions aren’t actually optional.

Obtain a few strong letters of recommendation. 

Usually, colleges request to see a few recommendation letters from people who have had a close personal relationship with you. Written by someone capable of accurately summarizing your achievements and abilities, they can reveal aspects of your personality that other statistics cannot. They not only give their personal assessments of your personality, but they also demonstrate that you have someone who is prepared to speak up for you and who has the faith in your reputation to do so.

To ensure that the letters are prepared on time, request them several weeks before your deadlines. Make sure you request them well in advance of your senior year if you are applying under an early action plan. Teachers who aren’t rushed or under time constraints will do an excellent job for you because they have a lot of other paperwork to finish. 

When applying to schools, be sure to adhere to their specific guidelines. Letters of recommendation from teachers in a certain subject are requested on some college applications. A school counselor’s letter will be of interest to others. Occasionally, they might desire both.

Seek assistance outside of the classroom. 

You ought to consider approaching other adults as well. Coaches, leaders of community or youth groups, employers, and others who are aware of your personal qualities, strengths, and shortcomings are great options. Make sure the individual you ask has a strong desire to write a recommendation letter for you. Ask the recipient whether they feel comfortable writing it for you beforehand to prevent sending a weak message. In this manner, if they don’t feel capable of doing the work, they can gracefully withdraw.

If you are asking someone for a letter of reference and you already have a relationship with them, it would be very helpful. Take occasional time to spend with them. They will find it easy to discuss your potential and best qualities if you do this.

For every college requiring the letters, make sure you provide your reference instructions along with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes. Additionally, inform them of each school’s deadlines. Make sure they’ve sent the letters by following up with them. To make sure they have been received, you might wish to check up with the admissions office again. It is possible to demonstrate to admissions officers that the letters are authentic by choosing not to study each one.

Examine the course material. 

You should look for hints regarding your college major before writing your application. Examine the course curriculum in detail and go into a few of the themes on your own. Use social media instead if the website only provides a small quantity of information. Is there anyone who identifies as a student or alumni in your major? Do they have any posts on the course? Regarding the assignments they are working on, you may discover some useful information. Take a closer look at the topics so that you can show in your application that you are interested in them.

Send in any further resources. 

Besides the advice given previously, students ought to send additional materials if they can. But they should never send any additional essays or materials that are not requested or accepted by institutions. For example, students who have completed a lot of work in the visual or performing arts may submit a portfolio of their work or videos of their performances, even if they do not intend to pursue these fields in college or the workplace. Students should carefully consider who can speak to a different aspect of their personalities and abilities, as some universities only allow one additional letter of recommendation from an outside source. Sports coaches, internship or job supervisors, and others are common sources of additional recommendations.

You should not only show that you are completely absorbed in your subject of choice but also that you fully comprehend what a university course comprises. Reading books, pertinent periodicals, and the most recent, high-quality media stories about the subject are all part of this. For deeper knowledge, you may even research seminars or events you could attend. You can demonstrate your seriousness about the course by including any or all of these in your college application.

Acquire work experience. 

Getting some work experience in the field is another way to demonstrate your dedication to your upcoming course. Your willingness to take initiative and dive deep into your chosen subject will be demonstrated by this. Consider doing anything related to your desired career, even if you are unable to obtain work experience in it. It’s beneficial to have a broad understanding of an industry, and in your application and interview, you can share with the admissions committee the lessons you’ve learned.

Describe any relevant work experience. 

Even though it’s not normally necessary, you could include your employment history on your applications if you worked part-time during high school, especially if the job or internship was relevant to your intended field of study in college.


A university is interested in learning about your character and commitment to both the subject you choose to take and society as a whole. Completing voluntary work is a fantastic way to demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual. Aside from making a significant impression on colleges, volunteering for a charity or non-profit organization is a great opportunity to connect with something greater than yourself. Before submitting your application, ideally, you will have been volunteering for a year or more. A college admissions committee does not want to believe that your volunteer work was just done to boost your application!

Taking part in extracurricular activities 

Admissions representatives at colleges seek out applicants who possess distinct viewpoints on the world. Individuality, inventiveness, and ingenuity are what they find appealing. But it is necessary to engage in activities outside of what may be considered normal to possess those attributes.

It’s strange that many kids don’t feel like they have access to new experiences in the world until they are in their 20s and older—that is, until they start college. When it comes to getting admitted into the college of your choosing, starting early with personal enrichment might be a crucial turning point.

Engaging in projects and essays pertaining to the subjects you are truly interested in in high school might be beneficial. Participating in class discussions and even talking about issues with your teacher or instructor after school might help you learn more. What occurs in your leisure time, though, is just as significant.

Make sure you enjoy the work you do. 

One way to highlight some of your best traits as admissions representatives is to invest your own time and energy in things that you find intriguing and pleasurable. Before you even started high school, you might have already established certain particular hobbies. Included in the category of extracurricular activities are hobbies, sports, art, music, dancing, horseback riding, and involvement in your church or community.

Here, it’s important that these activities be things you actually enjoy doing. Don’t do anything you will detest just because you feel like you have to. Determine what brings you happiness, then pursue it. Something as mundane or unglamorous as knitting, lengthy hikes, or poetry writing qualifies. 

Your own distinct style matters when it comes to extracurricular activities. Enrolling just snowboarding enthusiasts has minimal bearing on the school as a whole. Instead of focusing on a particular extracurricular activity, colleges seek diversity in applicants’ backgrounds and interests. Their concerns are primarily with your identity and priorities.

Beyond their contents, personal enrichment activities are more significant for your demonstration of devotion. There will be an analysis of your involvement with them. A resume that highlights just one or two groups or classes, along with the leadership roles held within them, is quite impressive.

Stress originality, influence, and leadership. 

Students should highlight and reflect on leadership responsibilities, explore distinctive after-school extracurricular and volunteer activities, and clearly communicate their personal successes and impact on the community when writing their activities section and essays. They must demonstrate what is important to them, how they think, and how their involvement and perspective—even in shared activities—differ from hundreds of other applicants participating in related activities.

Score exceptionally well in tests. 

To secure a place at an Ivy League university, applicants usually need to have excellent test scores and a high GPA. With one exception, Columbia, all Ivy League schools offered U.S. news that included details on the typical SAT and ACT scores of their first-year college students who disclosed such results. 

Only submit their scores if they are at or above the typical ranges of admitted students after comparing them to the historical data provided by each of their potential universities. 

Interview drills: 

An interview, usually led by a school alum, is a significant part of the admissions process for many universities. Students should practice their answers to frequently asked questions and come up with a few targeted, well-thought-out questions to pose to their interviewer in advance, much like they would for a job interview.

Control your online presence on social media. 

Using social media as a recruiting strategy is becoming increasingly popular, even though it would take time for admissions personnel to comb through every potential student’s posts on these platforms. Posts that reflect a dubious background and lack of judgment will not be well received by universities that aren’t sure whether to accept you as an applicant.

Make an effort in your application. 

Obtain the college application form ahead of time so that you are aware of all the requirements for filling it out. If at all feasible, begin working on it as soon as you can and turn it in far in advance of the deadline. Applications should arrive on college admissions teams’ desks early in the process, since they will review them as they are received.

The way that students exhibit themselves online should match how they did in their application materials. Why is everything you wouldn’t want admissions officers to see available for public viewing online? Admissions representatives occasionally browse social media. As a result, while creating any online content, students should treat admissions officers as potential viewers. Furthermore, it’s not at all required for students to have social media accounts! It’s all nonsense—those publications suggesting that students should create LinkedIn profiles to strengthen their applications to prestigious universities!

Students are able to demonstrate their knowledge, character traits, skills, and range of experiences in an impactful way thanks to this tactical method. Students can create application packages that distinguish them as extraordinarily attractive and uniquely qualified candidates by carefully selecting and presenting this diverse range of material. As a result, their chances of being accepted into their desired universities may increase, and they will become more competitive in the extremely competitive admissions environment. Students who are competing for a limited number of slots in elite academic programs may find that their ability to persuasively showcase their accomplishments, talents, and abilities sets them apart from the competition.

About IVY'D College Prep

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Whether it’s navigating the complexities of financial aid, tailoring extracurricular profiles, or connecting with alumni networks, our dedicated team is committed to transforming your college aspirations into extraordinary achievements. Start your journey with IVY’D, where your Ivy League dream becomes a reality.

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