Types of Students the Ivy League Will Love to Welcome in 2026
With every passing year, tens of thousands of students apply to one or more of the eight Ivy League schools. In fact, for the class of 2023, over 300,000 total students applied to Ivy League schools.
Even more surprising than that, the acceptance rate amongst those students that year was just 6.78 percent. And the acceptance rates across the board are trending downward even from there!
For that reason, if you’re a high school student right now, you might be wondering what in the world will it take for you to be a proud member of the Ivy League class of 2026.
Here at AdmissionSight, we make it our number one goal to help every determined high school student we work with to get into the school or schools of their dreams. Unsurprisingly, many of those dream schools are one of Ivy League schools. That’s why we’re so proud of our 75 percent acceptance rate to either an Ivy League or other top-10 schools.
Thanks to that impressive success rate (if we do say so ourselves), we have valuable and applicable knowledge when it comes to what kinds of students Ivy League schools are looking for. So, in order to help all high school schools across the world, we have decided to break down in detail the kind of students that tend to enjoy the greatest amount of success when they are applying to the Ivy Leagues.
When it comes to the Ivy League, we are of course referring to the historic and prestigious cluster of schools that all call the East Coast of the United States home. The schools are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. One thing that is fairly interesting about this group of schools is that – why they have been the most prestigious schools in the United States for hundreds of years – they actually were not referred to as the Ivy League until fairly recently.
The Ivy League only became official in 1954, but many of these schools trace their history to before the formation of the United States itself! Thanks to that history, each and every school has a legacy of opening its doors to men and women who have changed the worlds of business, science, math, art and so much more.
In this day and age, the Ivy League has some of the largest financial endowments for universities in the entire world. This allows students to take advantage of opportunities and resources that many other students at other schools simply are not able to utilize.
The truth is that the resources are only a part of the reason why students flock to Ivy League schools every fall. The prestige and pride that come with attending one of these schools also play a hefty role. And it’s not just about bragging rights either. The prestige and pride of attending one of these schools mean that the alumni community for all of the eight schools is heavily involved and passionate.
When you attend – and graduate – from one of the eight Ivy League schools, you immediately become part of the extensive alumni network. This can help graduates get the chance to take part in fantastic opportunities that may otherwise be unavailable to them.
For the last two decades, the acceptance rates at each of the schools in the Ivy League have varied between around three to 16 percent. When it comes to the class of 2025, here are the acceptance rates that each Ivy League school reported.
As you can see, all of the acceptance rates have actually dipped substantially compared to the previous year. Part of that is because of the heavily unique circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is also no doubt that these acceptance rates will continue to remain low.
Because of that, knowing what kind of students the Ivy League looks for is incredibly important. So, now that we have broken down some important facts related to the Ivy League, let’s now pivot to focusing on you – the student!
Join us as we break down some of the important qualities that we at AdmissionSight have identified when it comes to the students that gain admission to Ivy League schools.
1. Ivy League schools look for academic excellence throughout high school
When it comes to applying to colleges, it is typically believed that the two years that matter the most when it comes to overall performance are the sophomore and junior years of school. However, students that are committed to getting into an Ivy League school, and the ivy league class of 2026, need to be aware of the fact that Ivy League schools are looking for excellence from their applicants from the very start of high school.
That does not mean that students should just be earning straight A’s starting in freshman year, either. Truthfully, students should be enrolling in accelerated courses as early as middle school so that they can already be ahead of the curve once they get to high school.
Two subjects that have been found to play a large role interestingly are mathematics and foreign language. If students can achieve a strong background in calculus and achieve fluency in a foreign language in high school, they will definitely look the part of an Ivy League student.
One more recent trend that has been identified amongst students who are getting into Ivy League schools is their ability to code on the computer. After all, entire industries are now depending on the language of computers known as code.
One great aspect of this being something that Ivy League schools look out for is that coding is actually something that can be learned outside of the classroom. Moreover, a student teaching themselves how to code will absolutely help them to stand out from the rest of the students that are applying to Ivy League schools that year.
2. Ivy League schools look for commitment and achievement in extracurriculars
Back in the day, the pervasive belief when it came to how students spent their time out of the classroom was that a well-rounded student who was able to prove interests and excellence in many different interests was going to be seen in the most positive light when their applications arrived on the desks of Ivy League admissions officers.
In recent years, that focus has shifted pretty dramatically. Part of it has to do with the way in which the work market has changed. More now than ever, young adults are being asked to enter the workforce in hyper specialized roles. For that reason, it is now seen as more of a positive if a student is focusing on just a few extracurriculars during their time in high school.
Typically, the sweet spot is thought to be somewhere between three and five extracurriculars that a student strongly commits to and spends a lot of their time doing. Now, these activities can really be anything that interests the student. While some may put an emphasis on prestigious academic competitions or groups, the most important thing is that the student is able to display strong commitment and interest in the activity.
Ideally, over time, the student will be able to assume a role of impact and leadership within those communities. That role of leadership has really been emphasized in recent years. Students should absolutely pursue the role of captain, board member or president in any of the extracurricular groups that they are a part of.
The final note when it comes to extracurriculars is that it is advisable to take part in at least one that is closely connected to the student’s academic interests. Whether this means taking part in Science Olympiad, Model United Nations, or any of the other fantastic options out there is totally dependent on the student.
3. Ivy League schools look for students who are committed to their communities
Another important characteristic that we have seen amongst students who enjoy success when it comes to applying to Ivy League schools is that they made a point to get involved in their community in one way or another.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily have to mean their high school – or even local – community. After all, in an ever globalized world, all of us have found ourselves a part of communities of like minded individuals with similar interests and passions who live all over the world!
With that being said, it is always a good idea to show some kind of commitment to the people and places around you. The reason why this is so valued in the eyes of Ivy League admissions officers is because they hope that every student that gets into their school will one day soon become a highly impactful and positive member of their own community on campus. So, getting involved in some kind of charity work or community service is always smiled upon if you want to get into the ivy league class of 2026
Remember, this isn’t just a numbers game though. The student with the most hours of community service isn’t going to necessarily have a leg up in the application process compared to other students who are applying this year. Instead, this should simply be seen as one more aspect of a successful student’s application profile.
4. Ivy League schools look for students with fantastic personal statements and supplemental essays
If you ask any student who has worked with AdmissionSight in the past, they will tell you that our trained and experienced admissions counselors highly emphasize the importance of the personal statement and supplemental essay.
When it comes to the personal essay, this is one of the most unique ways for students to really help themselves stand out and be part of the ivy league class of 2026. That does not necessarily mean that a student has to write about something extraordinary to stand out. Instead, students are advised to highlight the extraordinary within the ordinary of their lives so that they can display and prove their commitment to writing the best personal statement possible.
The topic that a student chooses should be uniquely important to them. For students, think about this statement as an opportunity for you to prove to the admissions officer looking at your application, and every school that you are applying to, who you are both as a student and as a person.
Ultimately, a school isn’t accepting the student’s grades or test scores. The school is accepting the student. Showing them what kind of student you are can be a great way to improve your chances of getting accepted and get to the ivy league class of 2026.
When it comes to the supplemental essays, students can refocus more specifically on their lives as students. The reason why is because this is a great chance for any student interested in getting into an Ivy League program to convince those schools why that is the right place for them. This is a student’s chance to prove why they see the school as a great fit and why they think their academic journey will be best at that specific school.
To be sure, this demands a fair amount of research on the student’s part, and that is absolutely the best way to ensure that the supplemental essay is impactful in the right ways.
5. Ivy League schools look for students that shine in the interview
One rare aspect of the Ivy League application process is that students get the chance to interview with members of the specific school’s alumni. Just like the personal statement, the interview can serve as a fantastic opportunity for a student to really let their unique personality shine through.
But this should not be considered just a quick chat or a coffee date. Don’t be confused by the typical non-formal nature of these interviews. These are very important and it is the students that put their best feet forward that tend to gain the best results in terms of getting accepted to the Ivy League school on the top of their list.
Students should prepare for these interviews in the way that they might prepare for a job interview in the not-so-distant future. Do some quick research on the school to make sure you come off as well-informed about your reasoning for wanting to attend it. Beyond that, be sure to avoid making mistakes such as exaggerating accomplishments, talking too little, and arriving at the interview late!
6. Ivy League schools look for students who score well on SATs or ACT
This final factor that can have a large impact on students being accepted to the Ivy League graduating class of 2026 may come as something of a surprise. After all, the standardized tests have been made voluntary in recent years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, just because Harvard, Yale, Brown, and more went test-optional for the class of 2025 does not yet mean that the same will be the case for the ivy league class of 2026. Beyond that, as many students who have applied to Ivy League schools in the last couple of years know, just because the standardized tests have been an option does not mean that students should not take them.
The average scores for students who have been accepted to Ivy League schools have remained very high, indicating that students are still taking this aspect of the application very seriously.
Here are the average scores of students that got into Ivy League schools and a few other highly competitive schools in the United States.
Book Your Free Consult & Get into the Ivy Leagues Someday
No matter where a high school student is in their journey towards applying to Ivy League schools, there are always things that they can do to improve their chances of success. The truth is that the students who do the best in terms of applying and getting accepted to Ivy League schools are the ones that excel throughout their high school careers both inside and outside of the classroom.
This can be a daunting task, especially when paired with the pressure that some students feel to succeed. Luckily, students do not have to do it alone. Here at AdmissionSight, we work with committed and intelligent students all over the world to help them achieve their goals of getting into schools.
Whether a student is interested in attending one of the eight Ivy League schools, a fantastic public university, or a small liberal arts college, our admission consultants will offer all the tools, knowledge, and expertise at their disposal to help those goals come to fruition!
From pre-high-school consultation, to extracurricular profile evaluation, standardized test tutoring, AP exam tutoring and so much more, we at AdmissionSight offer a large array of programs and counseling for the students we work with. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure that every student we work with who wants to be a member of the Ivy League community gets the chance to do so.
Our history of success speaks for itself. If you are interested in working with us, book your free consultation today!