Contemplating the Ivy League


by Zachary Santella, Grade 12

Unlike many, the Ivy League schools haven’t always been my dream post-secondary institutions. In fact, I hadn’t considered them as a viable option at all until quite recently. The reason for their descent from a number of mythical words with grandiose connotations (roll the words Harvard or Yale around in your mouth for a second) to the realm of reality, for me, comes down to becoming more informed. Informed on what it really takes to get into an Ivy League. How their need-blind policy works. What they look for in an applicant, and how they weigh the different aspects of your application. Despite this information reinforcing the idea that these schools are highly selective and wade through enormous pools of applicants before they choose those fit to enter their doors, I began to consider them as an option.

The reason I am interested in the Ivy League is, as it is with everyone else interested in the Ivy League, pretty apparent. Comparable to, “Why are you interested in getting your hands on a treasure trove of 24-carat gold?” Maybe it’s that their reputation alone can land you incredible opportunities. Maybe it’s the 6:1 faculty-student ratio. Maybe it’s the immense resources they have at their finger tips to help aid your educational experience. Maybe it’s that you are guaranteed to be surrounded by brilliant people. Gold can buy you a house, Princeton can put your name in history.

My primary focus is humanities. I would be looking to study a broad range of social science courses from philosophy, political science, and economics, to international relations, and global development. That being said, all of the Ivy League schools (and Stanford) have amazing programs in that regard, so, I would say i’m interested in all of them. Aren’t you? Now, will I go and apply to all of them? Oh god, of course not. Although I still have research ahead of me, there are certainly several schools that stand out. Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton for instance. Dartmouth too, and Penn… Stanford is also incredible…

Oh no. Look what I’ve gotten myself in to. Back to the drawing board I go.

I learned that if I were a spokesman for an Ivy League school I would make sure to tailor my pants and choose a nice tie. I also learned just how difficult it is to get into the Ivy League; it’s incredible how some numbers (statistics in this case) can really put things into perspective. I was reassured, however, to find out that you don’t have to be a genius with a 4.0 GPA and 10 national math competition gold medals under your belt (although a kid like that would definitely get in). The application review process is much more holistic. For those who might not have a 97% average in high school, fret not. You just need to make sure you’re great in another area to make up for your academic ‘weakness’! Now, if you’re thinking, “Gosh, that’s not very reassuring at all!”, you’re right, it isn’t. The IvyPlus presentation wasn’t particularly reassuring either. More of a distribution of facts under the guise of comfort thanks to the likeable presenters.

It was good information though. The IvyPlus presentation was genuinely a wonderful opportunity to find out more about the Ivy schools and have any specific questions answered by specific schools of interest. There were also those great informational brochures at all the tables (except for Brown; maybe they’re too good for advertisements) and thanks to the information, maybe other students had that moment of epiphany where they realized Columbia is in New York, not in heaven.


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