You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Getting into an Ivy League College
At Monumental Beginnings we believe in finding the perfect fit for each student. Regardless of test scores, academic achievement, and extra-curriculars, we assert that there is a right fit, post high school plan for every student. We strongly discourage adherence to the US News and World Report’s college rankings, as well as others that decide the excellence of a school based on an arbitrary rubric. However, every once in a while a student comes along for whom the Ivy league could be a good fit, and when they do, we have an entirely different case on our hands. The Ivy league, and other schools that boast a lower than 10% admissions rate are another entity all together. A perfect GPA, high test scores, and academic rigor are the norm in applicants. The Ivies offer admission to students whom they believe have the potential to change the world (in the most literal sense.) Here is where we end up with our conflict. Every parent hopes their child changes the world, but most of us mean that in the most abstract sense. Perhaps by giving to his or her community, or contributing to the ripple effect that happens when we live lives of integrity and altruism. This country’s most prestigious colleges, however, are looking for future game changers, those people who will make huge positive differences in world culture and society.
I have a child in the Navy, and one majoring in biochemistry in college, and he wants to pursue a career in genetics. I think my children are going to change the world. They are amazing children, in my eye, THE most amazing children on the planet, but neither one of them is going to change the world in the way Harvard or Yale is looking for people who will change the world. This reality is something that most of us inevitably will need to face.
That may seem somewhat harsh, but it’s realistic. Most of us, even those of us who consider ourselves smart and/or wise, are not world class earth shakers. I was a teacher for over 15 years, and for good or bad, I like to believe I changed the world a little bit every day. I knew there were other teachers “better” than me, some of them my coworkers, and conversely there were teachers out there less effective than I, but was I ever going to be national teacher of the year? No. Will my children be President of the United States, or a Nobel Prize winner in Genetics? The odds point toward no. Will they probably do great things? Have wonderful lives? Make the world a better place either in big or small ways? Absolutely. And, if I am lucky, I will live to see it all happen, and they will be happy and healthy while they do it.
So what’s a parent to do? At Monumental Beginnings we always recommend to parents of these incredible kids to start early in encouraging their child toward the things they are passionate about. That is why I am sharing this article here, about how to get your student into Harvard and the Ivy League. Usually I shy away from many articles like this because they promise “secrets” or “inside information.” Allen Cheng, the author of this article is the CEO and co-founder of PrepScholar, a test prep and college admissions service. What makes this article different from many others is that he backs up his opinion with practical advice and information. Particularly if you have a freshman or sophomore, this is a great article. It is helpful in gauging whether or not your child has what Cheng calls a “big spike.”
A couple of caveats: I don’t agree that all students fit into two categories, world class and mediocre. While I understand Cheng’s use of the terms in relation to this article, many students are truly exceptional, there are very few, however, who would fit into this “world class” category. Well-rounded students grow to be well-rounded adults, and ultimately, in my opinion, happy and healthy. Secondly, you could take all of Cheng’s advice and still not be admitted to one of these prestigious colleges. Be aware, if you do get in you might not be able to afford it! A college list of numerous “right fit” colleges where the college will be thrilled to admit you, is my ultimate recommendation.
Cheng’s article is long, but I encourage you to read the whole thing. Then I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. If you have any questions, or want help building the “right fit” college list for YOUR amazing student, give us a call!
Annamarie Brachfeld, BA, MAEd, IEC
Co-Owner, Monumental Beginnings
Specializing in test prep, school success, and college essay