by Olivia Krusel, Grade 12 student
When one mentions the Ivy League, it automatically evokes images of prestigious higher-learning institutions, dark wood-paneled libraries, and secretive sororities. In actuality, the Ivy League is a group of progressive universities and colleges looking for the “best-and-brightest” to represent them while acquiring knowledge from their esteemed facilities and qualified professors.
This Monday night, I, along with a large crowd of equally enthusiastic students, had the privilege of attending SMUS’ 2nd annual “Ivy-plus” forum. The term Ivy-plus describes all the Ivy League universities in the United States as well as Stanford university, which is not directly part of the league, but has many similarities to the other colleges. Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford were all present at this forum. This was my 2nd year attending this presentation, first as a keen Grade 11 student, and now as a university applicant in Grade 12. Throughout this highly informative event, each school representative first provided an overview of his or her respective university, a brief perspective on what makes their institution special and unique, a passionate appeal as to why students would be compelled to apply to that particular school, and finally a step-by-step description of the application process.
What was clearly of interest to many in attendance was the ability, at these Ivy Leagues, to create personalized and unique educational plans custom-designed to a student’s special interests and abilities. The opening presentations were followed by individual university forums where students could meet the presenters and ask questions on a one-on-one basis.
All the Ivy League schools believe in the philosophy and practice of a liberal arts education, which focuses primarily on the social sciences or arts, although a large number of students will study traditional sciences such as chemistry, physics, and biology. Through a liberal arts education students are taught skills and philosophies such as critical thinking, adaptability, and creativity that are applicable in all areas of life, not just within the classroom. These universities believe in teaching students how to think rather than direct vocational study. This philosophy can be especially appealing to students who still have not decided exactly what field of study they wish to concentrate. Most of these universities allow one or two years before students are required to declare their major. There are also many options and opportunities where an individual can choose to accomplish a double degree or double major.
The Ivy League schools and Stanford are concerned with the entire university experience, not just the academics. The Ivy League representatives repeatedly state that high academics are just the beginning when admissions officers are evaluating applications to their school. Many look for extraordinary individuals with an extreme passion and involvement in music, sports, community service, or other extra-curricular activities. The evident passion among Ivy League students is reflected in their entrepreneurial development of many interest groups, clubs, and councils on campus. I was astonished to learn that one of the Ivy League schools has a real-life Quidditch team with a human snitch, like in Harry Potter.
This event clearly inspired me to be attracted to the Ivy League and Stanford universities, because they offer a unique blend of excellent academics, internationally-acclaimed research professors, as well as a rich undergraduate experience that is unparalleled in the university world. As a student who loves getting involved with my school, this hands-on approach to learning is extremely appealing to me. I enjoyed this university meeting as a greater confirmation of my fascination with these leading institutions, and I know I am not alone in this experience!