What You Should Know About Ivy Plus Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A woman sitting on the floor holding a tablet and pen

What You Should Know About Ivy Plus Universities

For high school students all around the world, getting into any of the eight Ivy League schools is a major accomplishment.

While the educations at every single Ivy League school is top-notch, one of the other most important reasons why students want to go to Harvard, Yale or Columbia is because of the incredible network that students receive from attending and graduating from these top schools.

The eight members of the Ivy League are considered to be amongst the world’s very best universities.

The schools are proud of their long-held traditions related to academic difficulty and prestige. Of course, the eight Ivy League schools are Brown University in Rhode Island, Columbia University in New York, Cornell University in New York, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Harvard University in Massachusetts, the University of Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania, Princeton University in New Jersey and Yale University in Connecticut.

While these schools are obviously some of the best in the world, Ivy Plus universities are also amongst the best in the world and should absolutely be on the top of every fantastic students’ list when it comes to their dream schools.

While all the Ivies are located in the northeastern region of the United States, the Ivy Plus Universities include schools that have the same reputation for a competitive admissions process, academic excellence, and social prominence compared to the Ivy League. These schools include Stanford University in California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Massachusetts, University of Chicago in Illinois, and Duke University in North Carolina.

These four private schools are amongst the most impressive and prestigious in the world and require a very similar level of academic profile for high school students to get accepted into them.

If you are interested in attending one of the Ivy Plus universities, or one of the schools in the original Ivy League, let us at AdmissionSight help break down some important things to keep in mind.

The admissions process to Ivy Plus universities

The process of applying for admission for Ivy League schools and Ivy plus universities is typically the exact same process as applying to other colleges. All eight of the Ivies accept the Common Application, which is a college application that is accepted by a large number of schools across the country.

The same application is used to apply to any of the member colleges. With that being said, some schools have supplemental forms. When it comes to Ivy plus universities, Stanford, UChicago, and Duke accept the Common Application, but MIT has its own application called the MyMIT application.

A woman typing on her laptop

In all, the application packet may include the following requirements when it comes to proof of academic standing:

  • Standardized test results including the SAT and ACT
  • AP subject test scores and results
  • Grade point average
  • Class rank and description of coursework
  • Many colleges require personal essays along with letters of recommendation from teachers, school guidance counselors, and community leaders
  • Some schools provide the high school applicants the opportunity to take part in interviews with college representatives

One important thing to keep in mind is that the Ivy League and Ivy Plus admissions process is done through a holistic review. This means that the admissions counselors take a large number of factors into considerations when deciding what students to accept. This might sound hard to believe but preparing to get into an Ivy League or Ivy plus university can be in the 9th grade or even before.

How to prepare for Ivy League and Ivy Plus applications

High school students who are interested in applying to the highly selective universities, whether they by Ivy League, Ivy Plus or top public schools such as UC Berkeley, University of Michigan or UCLA, will want to prepare for the arduous and demanding process as soon as they start their first year of high school.

The transcript of records that colleges require should prove that the students were incredibly motivated both inside and outside of the classroom throughout their high school years. As a high school student, you should be sure that your transcript proves that you took difficult courses that certainly include Honors and AP classes.

A person writing with a pile of books beside them

As a student, you should also be conscious of the fact that grade trends will show in your final transcript that college admissions officers see. For example, while straight-A students, of course, look best for prestigious schools, it also looks great if you show improvement through the years. On top of that, be cognizant of the fact you should not spend your freshman and sophomore years taking honors and AP courses only to ease up and take easier courses in your junior and senior years.

In fact, the two years to focus on primarily when it comes to difficulty and success are the sophomore and junior years of high school. However, all four years should be given serious attention and determination.

The grade point average (or GPA) of students who are admitted to Ivy League schools is important to keep in mind so that high school students can be aware of their chances. Remember that GPA calculations are based on the weighted standard of a 4.0 GPA with both AP and Honors courses being graded on either a 4.5 or 5.0 scale.

Below are the average GPAs of high school students who are accepted into the Ivy League and Ivy Plus universities:

As you can see, the GPA requirements for all of these schools are highly restrictive. If you want to have a GPA that is up to snuff for any of these schools, you are going to have to remain committed to academic excellence throughout high school.

Standardized tests

Another highly important thing to keep in mind when it comes to getting into any prestigious university is your performance on standardized tests. Without a doubt, the emphasis that schools used to put on standardized tests may have reduced in recent years, but there is also no doubt that they remain highly important.

Students have to be prepared to score the highest possible scores on the ACT or SAT. One great way to prepare for success is to take the Preliminary SAT – otherwise known as the PSAT – as soon as they are able to do so. Not only can the PSAT earn students’ certain amounts of financial aid, but also helps students hone their standardized test tasking skills.

When preparing for the SAT or ACT, consider the fact that you can take these tests as many times as you can as long as you comply with final application deadlines.

Here are the average SAT and ACT scores for students who are admitted to Ivy League schools.

SAT and ACT scores for Ivy League schools

Just to be clear, the perfect score for the modern SAT is 1600 and the score for the ACT is 36. These are highly difficult scores to achieve and will take a great amount of determination to earn the scores necessary to stand out on the desk of an Ivy League of Ivy plus university college admissions counselor.


For any top school, students will have to prove what kind of positive force they will be on campus by taking part in some great extracurriculars. Some of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing your extracurriculars are that they should be related to things that you are truly passionate about first and foremost.

Sports equipment laying on the grass

Rather than trying out a few different clubs, teams, or programs every year, you should instead focus on 2-4 extracurriculars throughout the four years of high school. If you are curious about some of the best extracurriculars to consider, we at AdmissionSight have broken down some of the best.

  • Student government – Colleges and universities are especially impressed by high school students who have and display leadership skills. There are few better ways to show such skills than taking part in student government. These are great ways for a high schooler to make friends, participate in the way their school work, and show that students are capable and responsible as well as other students look up to you.
  • Academic teams or clubs – Another great way to impress top colleges and universities such as Ivy League or Ivy plus schools is to take part in an academic club or team. Whether your subject of choice is math, science, history, demonstrating your love of your education outside of the classroom.
  • Debate team – Students on the debate team are far more likely to be educated about and engaged in the societal and political issues of today. Beyond that, students who participate in the debate team are far more likely to learn critical thinking skills as well as being vocal about issues that they care about. This is a fantastic indication that they will be active and valued members of the university community no matter what school they end up going to.
  • Theatre and the arts – If you are a student who is passionate about theatre or the arts, you should consider investing your time in an out of school arts or theatre program. While programs offered by your school certainly suffice, there are also regional, national, or even international clubs that you can take part in. Extracurriculars related to theatre or the arts are especially important – and often required – if you are interested in applying to a theatre conservatory or design program of any kind at a college.
  • Volunteer work and community service – Another great way to prove that you will be a positive and selfless member of any community you are a part of is to give back to the greater community of your hometown. The best way to peg a form of volunteer work or community service that you would love to do is to volunteer for a group that works in an area that you are already passionate about. If you are passionate about conservation, volunteer for a group that works to clean up the natural spaces of your region. If you are passionate about kids, seek out a program that helps underserved youths in your area.
  • Internships – If you a professionally minded and already have a great idea in terms of what kind of job you will one day want to have, trying to earn an internship in that area will show that you are incredibly determined. An internship proves that you are dedicated, capable, and incredibly mature for your age.

Your personal statement essays

Here at AdmissionSight, we encourage top students to make sure that they absolutely ace their personal essays when they are applying to university. The reason for this is quite simple. Basically, students, who are applying to Ivy League schools Ivy plus universities are already within the very upper echelon of students worldwide.

A woman writing a letter on a paper.

To even believe that getting into these types of schools is a possibility demands that students earn top grades throughout high school and get fantastic SAT or ACT scores. That’s why the personal essay is so important. It helps you stick out and it may very well end up helping you get into the school of your dreams. Here are some fantastic tips to keep in mind when you are crafting, writing, and editing your personal essays:

  • Open with a personal story – One great way to draw the reader is to share a personal story or something about you to let your reader in. You may feel the desire to start with an inspirational quote or something that is less personal, what matters most is that the reader identifies with you from the very first paragraph.
  • Put yourself in the position of the school you are applying to – Another great technique to build the perfect personal essay is to show that you are a good fit for the school. Proving that you are the kind of student that they want to accept – such as passionate, determined, strong, and positive – is a great way to show your best self to the schools you are applying to.
  • Don’t try so hard – One of the biggest mistakes that you can make while crafting your personal essay is to try too hard to create the perfect personal essay. Instead of trying to make yourself out to be the perfect student. Instead, make it your primary goal to let the reader in as much as possible. Your unique story is what you should worry about the most.
  • Toss the thesaurus – A problem that high school students and even college students make when writing is thinking that using big words that they find in the thesaurus will make them seem as impressive as possible. What makes you most impressive is how you craft your story in these personal statements. In fact, the last thing you want your reader to be doing is feeling the need to grab their dictionary just to understand what it is you are actually talking about!
  • Write about what matters to you – Above all, the admissions teams are looking for authenticity and what makes you…well…you! Don’t write about what you think college admissions counselors want to read about. Instead, keep in mind that admissions teams are looking for students who are authentic and real.
  • Do your research – If you are unsure about what you should write about or how you should begin crafting your personal essays, consider doing some research and learning about success stories of students who are similar to you. This is not to say that you should copy other people’s techniques in any way. Instead, you should try to learn from their approach in order to find the best technique for you to tell your own story.
  • Follow the instructions – This is the final rule and it is super simple. Whatever you are doing as you prepare for your personal essays, make sure that you are following the rules to a T. Not all universities want to see the same things out of personal essays, and it is important that you make sure you are following specific rules and not glossing over the instructions as you prepare.


When it comes to Ivy League schools and Ivy plus universities, every student has to be prepared to do their very best and work their very hardest both inside and outside of the classroom during their four years of high school, or even before.

But the challenges and the excitement only starts there. Getting into the college or university of your dreams can be the beginning of four the most formative years of any young person’s life. Beyond that, attending an Ivy League or Ivy plus school can unlock incredible opportunities both in your personal and professional life during your education and after you graduate. Whether it is a job you are looking to get or an opportunity you hope you get, tapping into your prestigious alumni network can be an absolute game-changer for the rest of your life.



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