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Ivy League and Competitive Colleges — Overview

Are you interested in checking out some of the more competitive U.S. colleges and universities?


The Ivy League — coined in the early 1930’s by a New York sports reporter describing eight schools with a common interest in academics and athletics—is made up of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale.


Ivy League schools have retained their strong academic reputations and remain among the most selective in terms of college admission.  There are many other highly competitive colleges and universities such as: MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Williams, Amherst and others.


The majority of students attending highly selective colleges were in the top ten to twenty-five percent of their graduating class, challenged themselves academically, were active in extracurricular activities, demonstrated self-motivation and leadership, scored well on the SAT and/or ACT and showed themselves to be passionate about learning and one or two activities. In short, they were qualified and interesting candidates who stood out in the crowd!  Read the InLikeMe commentary: Getting Accepted: Factors Colleges Look For in Applicants.


A generation ago, it was pretty straightforward to predict which students would be admitted to the top schools, since most of the highly-selective colleges accepted 30% or more of the applicants.


The most competitive schools have seen a persistent rise in applications and these colleges no longer have room for many of the qualified and interesting candidates.    In recent years Harvard College, for example, offered admission to less than 10% of the high school seniors who applied.  Most of those rejected were academically qualified and many had very impressive achievements.


Experts will tell you that that getting in these days is a combination of good luck and standing out in a compelling way. See the InLikeMe commentary: Strategic Positioning – Creating Your “Wow Factor”, “Dazzle” or “Hook” .


Intense competition for admission to selective colleges and universities has fueled the college prep industry made up of consultants (e.g. independent educational counselors & consultants, admissions advisors, private college counselors), essay services and test prep companies.


While these services providers cannot guarantee admission to the school of your dreams, they may be able to help you improve your chances and present yourself and your selling points in the best possible light.   See the InLikeMe Commentary: Private College Admissions Counselors: Do I Need One?

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