Things Freshmen Should be Doing Now to Get into the Ivies

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students sitting on the steps of a school building.

6 Things Freshmen Should be Doing Now to Get into the Ivies

There’s no doubt that getting into Ivy League schools is difficult. When compared to acceptance rates of other colleges in the country, these prestigious universities are among the most selective. This exclusivity translates into a demanding and challenging admissions process. Ivy League admissions committees are tasked with scrutinizing tens of thousands of applications in order to determine which students are most qualified to fill the limited number of positions at these top universities. Whether you’re a parent or student, you might be wondering about things freshmen should be doing now to get into the Ivies.

Here, we’ll explore what high school freshmen can do now to get into the Ivy Leagues and why getting a head start in the process is so important. By the time you finish reading this, you’ll feel much more knowledgeable about how to get into Ivy League universities.

The importance of starting early

If you’re not sure when to start preparing for college, you’re not alone. Many students and parents wonder when it’s ideal to begin actively planning and working towards their dream university. While the exact time will fluctuate depending on your personal strengths and desired college, ninth grade is a great rule of thumb.

Young woman typing in the floor.

This is especially true when applying to Ivy League universities as these institutions of higher learning have more challenging applications and requirements. Furthermore, admission officers take a holistic approach when determining whether to accept or reject a student. Generally, your overall academic performance throughout high school is taken into account. In order to improve your chances of making successful Ivy League applications it’s advisable to get started around your freshman year of high school.

How 9th Graders Can Prepare Now for the Ivy League

Whether you’re just now graduating from high school or you’ve already started your freshman year, now’s the time to start making moves if your goal is to get into an Ivy League school. Although the actual application process won’t start until a few years later, keep in mind that your academic performance along with activities you do outside of school you do right now will play a role in whether or not you get accepted down the line.

It’s sometimes tough to wrap your head around how actions being taken now can impact decisions in the future, but that’s how college admissions work. Admissions officers want to see that a student has proven throughout their high school years they’re dedicated academically. Don’t worry if you feel a little overwhelmed about where to start. That’s exactly what we’re going to breakdown. Here’s what it really takes to get into the Ivy League these days

1. Familiarize yourself with Ivy League schools

It’s difficult to get a grasp on something you’re not familiar with. In order to get a better idea of what you can expect (and what’s expected of you), you should educate yourself with Ivy League schools. Learn about the various schools within the Ivy League, what makes each unique, why the Ivy League, and what kind of students these colleges typically admit. This research won’t only give you a better understanding of what’s required to get admitted to the Ivy League, but it’ll also get you thinking about which schools best align with your personal goals, academic strengths, and professional path.

The internet is a great place to begin your research as there are plenty of excellent resources with in-depth information about Ivy League schools. Admission Sight is a helpful source that provides readers with tips about preparing for the Ivies along with some information about these schools. As you develop a surface level understanding of these schools, you might want to talk to your parents about the possibility of reaching out to alumni from these schools to hear what it’s like directly from the horse’s mouth.

2. Think about the short and long-term

Although there’s no way to explain how to get into an Ivy League college—guaranteed, there is a helpful shift in perspective which anyone wanting to reach the Ivies should consider. The relationship between short-term and long-term goals and actions that impact these objectives is an important concept when thinking about ways to increase your chances of getting into Harvard, Yale, or any other of the eight prestigious universities in the Ivy League category.

While you might be used to breaking your academic years into bite-sized chunks like semesters, quarters, or even weeks, this viewpoint has to be tempered with consideration for the long-term. Focusing solely on the immediate future isn’t a good strategy when you have a goal in the future that relies on what you do in the present. What you do now in your freshman year will play a large role in your chances of getting into the school of your dreams. Although you might think that only the year or two years before you graduate are the only ones that matter, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Female student smiling at the camera while in a library.

The same is true in reverse as focusing solely on the long-term can have negative consequences too. If you’re so focused on your future goal of applying to an Ivy League university, your performance in the present can suffer. In order to appropriately manage your time when preparing for the Ivies in ninth grade, you need to have a balance of long and short-term thinking. This habit will also help you in the future as you begin thinking about how to transition from the Ivy League into the professional realm.

3. Talk about your goals with other people

You don’t have to approach the Ivy League on your own. It’s much easier to reach tough goals when there are people behind you. A great way to build a network of supportive people is to tell others about your goals. Think about some people you’d be most comfortable speaking with about your Ivy League dreams and being sharing your thoughts.

You can start with your parents and other family members you’re close with. It’s not uncommon to be thinking about college prospects in your freshman year of high school, so some people in your close circle of family members might even be expecting the conversation to pop up. Tell them that you’re already looking ahead to college and you’re thinking about aiming for the Ivy League. If you’re already decided, then express it. Don’t feel like you need to downplay or play what you’re feeling. Sharing these goals with people you trust can create a sense of accountability and support while you work towards them. Also, there’s no telling what connections some of your family members might have to the Ivy League.

Two people having a one-on-one talk

It might also be helpful to discuss these goals with teachers and guidance counselors. Not only are these individuals there to support your academic growth, but some are even already familiar with the Ivy League. Guidance counselors especially should have some helpful insights and insider-information since some students from your high school have already most likely applied to an Ivy League school. You might even be able to get in contact with an alum from your high school who’s currently attending an Ivy League school.

While the information you’ll glean from these interactions is paramount, you’ll also develop some helpful relationships in the process. This network of people who are familiar with your goals and interested in your success will act as a support group. Furthermore, when you start the actual application process to one (or a few) of these Ivy League schools, you’ll need a resounding letter of recommendation from some of your teachers or a high school counselor. The more these individuals know about you, your academic goals, and the work you’ve put in to achieve them, the better the letters.

4. Create a sturdy foundation

Although college admission officers take an aggregate approach when deciding whether to accept or reject the application, your freshman year extracurriculars and grades aren’t weighed too heavily. However, the academic choices you make during your freshman year can have a long-term impact on your chances of getting admitted to the Ivies. It’s prudent for students to start thinking seriously and strategically about setting a strong and sturdy academic foundation to ensure success moving forward.

A female student very focused in writing

First and foremost, you should aim to select courses that will put you on a path towards these institutions of higher learning. Your high school should already have the most challenging classes labeled. Nearly every student who’s set their sights on the Ivy League will seek out these classes. Sure, there are some students who are accepted without having taken the most challenging classes during their high school years, but these are exceptions rather than the rule. Your high school counselor should be able to help you choose the right courses in this respect.

Chances are you’ll need to embark on your high school’s most competitive and challenging route. However, this is something that has to be decided at the very beginning as these more difficult courses have prerequisites. If you end up slacking your freshman year and don’t perform well in challenging courses or decide to take blow-off classes, you won’t have the time to catch up before you need to prepare an application. You’ll need to put your foot on the gas pedal from freshman year onward when it comes to academic performance.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, though. Make sure you can handle the course load before you decide to undertake it. Failing out is worse than pushing it off for a later date. Ninth grade is an excellent time to start laying the foundation for the extracurricular activities and clubs you’ll participate in throughout your time at high school.

While admissions officers love to see these out-of-school activities, you don’t want to participate in too many extracurriculars as this can come off as unorganized and chaotic. Instead, freshman year is the time when you can explore various options and determine which you’re most passionate about. If you’re able to narrow it down, try to find one or two extracurriculars that really line up with your interests and stick with them throughout high school. This shows perseverance, dedication, and development to admissions officers.

Don’t forget to look beyond extracurriculars too. Developing personal interests and pursuing passions on your own time will also bode well when you apply for the Ivies. Maybe even think about how you can give back or contribute to your community as these efforts stick out as well.

5. Develop the necessary skills

In general, students have two main ways to develop the necessary skill to gain admittance to an Ivy League university.

Firstly, students should understand the best ways to learn. Although you might have come across this sort of thought process before, it’s worthwhile to explore it in greater depth. How can I remember something after reading it once? Are there methods of studying that are more efficient than others? Why do I end up forgetting things after taking an exam and how can I correct that? These are the kinds of questions you’ll be answering. You should explore various study methods, the way your environment impacts your ability to memorize, and more.

Secondly, night graders should start honing their writing skills. Whether you want to go into law, business, science, or the medical field, writing is going to be an essential ability when applying for an Ivy League university. You’ll need to write excellent personal statements and supplemental essays in order to even get your foot in the door. Furthermore, your writing skills will be tested when taking courses at an Ivy League even after you get accepted. Even if you find that writing comes naturally to you, there’s always room to improve.

You can start by signing up for writing-focused courses and performing written coursework diligently. Pay attention in English courses, and make sure you’re always heeding the advice and feedback of teachers as it pertains to your writing. Talk to your parents about attending a writer’s workshop or going to a writing center at your high school if it’s available. Writing on your own can also help dramatically.

Students who start to develop these abilities early on will have a competitive edge when it comes time to apply to the Ivies. Your written portions of the application will stand out – something admissions committees at Ivy League schools take seriously. Improved learning abilities and writing skills will also benefit you when you’re enrolled at one of these top universities. In fact, you’ll be rewarded with these skills throughout your professional career as well.

6. Speak with an admissions consultant

Many students feel confused in their freshman year as they’re not sure where to begin. Aiming for the Ivies is an exciting and daunting prospect at the same time. While you can find helpful information online and during your conversation with others, speaking with an admissions consultant is another piece of that puzzle. These professionals have an insider-knowledge of what Ivy League schools are looking for from students.

Furthermore, a college admissions consultant will be able to outline a detailed and comprehensive plan starting from your freshman year in high school to help maximize your chances of getting admittance to your desired college. The plan is catered to your unique strengths and academic goals in addition to the school which you hope to attend one day in the not-so-distant future.

Need more help getting into top tier colleges?

Admission Sight has been helping students just like you realize their dreams of getting into the Ivy Leagues. Whether you want to get into Yale, Harvard, or any other of those household-name universities, we’ve got your back. With an ongoing track record of success, our results speak for themselves. We can help students and parents get a better understanding of what universities are looking for, what high schoolers should do to improve their chances of admittance, and how to apply correctly.

Whether you need help identifying the right summer program given your academic interests, support while writing your supplemental essays, or guidance in choosing the best university, the professionals at Admission Sight can help. We have the expertise, insider-knowledge, and services that make a difference. Feel free to contact us today to learn more about what we offer and how you can benefit.


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