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Ivy League Admission Tips: An Overview of Legacy Admissions

The Ivy League admission process is certainly complex—students can take a myriad of different approaches toward crafting an outstanding applicant profile. Each student’s academic interests, talents, and extracurricular activities will vary, but all college applicants should work hard to develop a compelling theme and narrative.

Your unique circumstances and goals will constitute an important part of your admissions narrative and will help you decide on your theme. For example, being a legacy applicant can help your admissions profile stand out. In this article, we provide an overview of legacy admissions and explain how you can use this status to your advantage.

What is a Legacy Applicant?

A legacy applicant is the child of an alumnus. At top colleges, the definition tends to be fairly narrow: the parent must have graduated from the undergraduate college. However, some undergraduate colleges consider an applicant as having legacy status if their parent attended their graduate school. However, being the sibling, grandchild, or great-grandchild of a graduate will not make you a legacy applicant.

Why Being a Legacy Applicant Matters

Of course, you have no control over whether you are a legacy applicant, but if one of your parents attended a top college, your chances of being admitted there are significantly higher—about twice as much as other applicants.

While a 20 to 40% chance of being admitted is far better than a 10 to 20% chance, not all legacy applicants are admitted. In fact, roughly two-thirds of legacy applicants are rejected, so legacy status does not guarantee admission to the best schools. Still, it can make a significant difference in the admissions process.

Why Legacy Students Matter to Colleges

Admitting legacy students at a higher rate than others may seem unfair, but top colleges have several incentives to do so.

First, top-tier schools see legacy admissions as a recognition of the special relationship between a school and its alumni—a connection between past and future students. This preference for legacy applicants is not really concerned with fairness, and none of the top colleges try to hide their preferential treatment of legacy applicants. Still, many alumni are disappointed each year because their children’s applications are rejected.

Second, prioritizing legacy admissions is financially beneficial for top schools. Alumni are often generous donors to their alma maters. Moreover, while regular donations won’t affect your chances of admission (unless those donations are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars), alumni donations can help a school’s finances. Legacy applicants provide a short-term economic benefit, but they also result in a more long-term advantage: a loyal alumnus and potential donor.

Ivy League Admission Strategies for Legacy Applicants

If you are a legacy applicant, you should certainly leverage that status in your application to increase your chances of admission. However, keep in mind that being a legacy applicant will in no way make up for a weak admissions profile.

Legacy applicants with mid-range academic ratings have better chances of being admitted than other applicants of comparable academic rank, but the pool of applicants to any given highly selective college is still very competitive. Therefore, you shouldn’t rely on legacy status. Instead, craft a compelling profile that stands on its own merits—being a legacy applicant should serve only to complement an already excellent profile.

The truth is that no preexisting advantage—not even legacy status—will gain you admission to a top college. Rather, your exemplary academic record, clear application theme and narrative, and fitting extracurricular activities will impress the admissions officers and get you admitted into your top-choice schools.

Ivy League Admission Tips: How to Refine Your List of Potential Colleges

As the deadlines for college applications approach, it may be tempting to apply to every school possible. On the other hand, you may only have one or two schools you’d like to attend. However, these two extremes—making an overly long list of potential colleges or crafting a very short one—can be dangerous. If you don’t apply to enough colleges, your chances of receiving at least one admission letter will be much lower. On the other hand, if you apply to too many, you won’t have time to make each application compelling and unique.

In this article, we discuss how to craft a balanced, realistic list of about 10 to 12 potential colleges. Be sure to keep these Ivy League admission strategies in mind as you decide which schools you’ll apply to.

Review Your Preliminary List

Perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind is academics. If you have decided to pursue a certain major, but one of the colleges on your list doesn’t offer it, you should remove that school from your list. It’s also important to consider your motives for including each school on your list. If you added an uninteresting college only because someone else—perhaps a well-meaning teacher or friend—wanted you to do so, you should remove that school.

As you refine your list, aim to narrow it down to about 10 or 12 schools, but never go below six—doing so would be risky.

As you consider each option, ask yourself these two questions: Am I genuinely interested in this college? If so, why? If you cannot answer these questions easily, then the school isn’t worth including on your list.

Factor in Selectivity

Your list should include a reasonable balance of safety, target, and reach schools. Safety schools are those that will almost certainly admit you, target schools are more moderate options, and reach schools are the most competitive colleges, which may or may not accept your application. In general, try to keep at least three of each type on your list.

Remember, adding reach schools is not risky as long as you have enough safe options on your list. We suggest applying to at least one reach school.

Factor in Cost

At this stage of the process, you and your parents need to assess which colleges are within an acceptable financial range. Do research on the financial aid options offered by each school. The key is to have several backup options in case the financial aid packages from more expensive schools aren’t ample enough to make tuition reasonable.

Narrow Down the List to 10 to 12 Schools

After refining your list based on careful research, selectivity, and cost, you should ideally be left with 10 to 12 schools. The most important thing is not the number of schools on your list; rather, you should have a balanced, realistic, and reasonable list that will result in at least one acceptance letter in the spring. If you include too many schools on the list, you won’t be able to give each application the attention it deserves.

If you want your college applications to stand out, your list of potential schools must be strong. The more time you spend fine-tuning your list and doing research on each school, the better your applications will be. This step may be challenging and time-consuming, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of the Ivy League admission process—after all, your choice of a college can be critical in determining your career path.

Ivy League Admission Tips: How to Use Talent to Enhance Your Admissions Profile

In the current college admissions landscape, it takes much more than good grades to build an outstanding applicant profile. If you want to impress the admissions officers, you’ll have to craft a unique admissions theme and narrative. The key is to use your personal experiences, extracurricular activities, and academics to prove that you will be a valuable asset to your target colleges.

If you have a talent or ability such as painting, photography, music, or another performing art, you can build your admissions profile around that skill. These Ivy League admission tips will help you use your talent to enhance your college applications.

How to Incorporate Talent into Your Admissions Profile

Your admissions profile should show how you will add value to your target schools. Unless your talent or ability is clearly linked to your admissions theme, it may not be worthwhile to discuss it at length. On the other hand, if you are particularly gifted and can demonstrate your high level of ability with third-party recognition and accomplishments, you should consider highlighting your talent even if it is not the primary focus of your admissions profile.

Building Your Theme and Narrative Around a Talent or Ability

If you are exceptionally gifted or have a natural ability that you developed through practice and training, that ability could become the focus of your theme and narrative. For example, if you love acting, want to pursue it professionally, and have the talent to do so, you could build your admissions profile around that talent. The key is to use third-party recognition to prove that you are highly skilled.

Including Exceptional Talent in Your Theme and Narrative

What if your talent or unique ability is not your primary focus? In that case, you may still be able to find a way to work that skill into your admissions narrative.

For example, if you are particularly gifted in music, you might integrate that skill into your profile. Whatever your career goal is—mechanical engineering, medical research, biology, computer science, psychology—you could draw upon your skill and love for music to lead a unique community project, develop a mobile application, or study the effects of music on the mind.

Don’t Focus on Talent or Ability at the Expense of Academics

Your talent or ability may help you stand out, but by itself, it will not gain you admission into a top college. Solid academic performance is an absolute must, so you should not develop any skills to the point that your academic performance suffers.

Should You Provide Supplemental Materials?

In general, you should not provide example material such as artwork or a recording of your music unless you are exceptionally talented and plan on using your ability to contribute to the school. In other words, don’t provide supplemental materials if your skill is just a hobby.

Since the admissions officers are rarely qualified to assess artistic ability, any additional materials you submit will be forwarded to the appropriate department. The department will then evaluate your skills.

Depending on whether the college allows it, you might consider sending materials directly to the relevant department. If you do, make sure to indicate that you are an admissions applicant seeking a recommendation letter. Moreover, you should be serious about developing your talent during college.

As we’ve discussed, possessing a talent or ability can certainly enhance your admissions profile. However, you should always make sure to link your skill to your theme and narrative. At the same time, keep in mind that your academic performance should be paramount. Schedule a meeting with Ivy League Prep to learn more about our Ivy League admission strategies.

Ivy League Admission Tips: Avoiding Common Mistakes, Part 2

As explained in our previous blog post, many college applicants make mistakes that lower their chances of gaining admission; unfortunately, there is a plethora of bad advice on how to craft a strong admissions profile. Every year, admission officers from the best colleges and universities deny thousands of applications from students who make common mistakes, all of which could be easily avoided. Ivy League Prep’s mission is to help students develop a compelling admissions theme and narrative, and our approach is a proven, data-driven model. As you go about the Ivy League admission process, take care to avoid the following pitfalls.

Being Passive

Your parents can certainly be a source of support and excellent advice during the admissions process, but you should neither expect nor allow them to take over—after all, you are the applicant. For example, don’t have your parents make calls that you should be making. If they do, the admissions officers might notice. Moreover, your parents shouldn’t sit in on your admissions interviews—you need to demonstrate independence, responsibility, and maturity. Show the admissions officers that you are actively engaged in the admissions process.

Making Decisions Based on What Others Want

Others will likely pressure you to apply to certain colleges. Friends might try to convince you to pursue the same colleges they are applying to; relatives might pressure you to apply to their alma maters; and teachers or guidance counselors might weigh in with their personal opinions. However, you need to choose a school that will suit your personality, academic goals, and financial needs.

Focusing on a Single School

You may be determined to attend a particular school, but focusing too much on just one of your applications can have disastrous results. You cannot let your first-choice school interfere with researching other potential schools, creating a strong list of colleges, and submitting applications to these other schools. It is always a good idea to include several “safe” options on your list of potential schools.

Failing to Get to Know a School Before Enrolling

Once you receive your acceptance letters, take the time to get to know each school before making your final decision. If you haven’t visited your potential colleges, make sure to do so before enrolling. Accepted student events are great opportunities for you to take one last look at your options and make an informed decision.

Applying Early Decision When Uncertain

Do not apply early decision unless you are completely sure that you want to attend the school in question. Just think: if you are accepted early decision and forced to attend a school you don’t like, it may ruin your college experience and hinder your chances of starting a successful career after graduation.

Letting Your Grades Slip

Once you are accepted, you may be tempted to let your grades slip or transfer out of your advanced courses. However, top colleges will continue to evaluate your academic performance until you graduate from high school. If you aren’t careful, colleges may even rescind your acceptance, so you must keep up your academic performance until the end of senior year.

Inappropriate Behavior

The most dangerous mistake on this list is to speak or behave in an inappropriate manner. Top colleges have little tolerance for bigotry, hate speech, excessive lewdness, and illegal activities. Take care not to list an inappropriate email address on your application, wear clothing with explicit content to admissions interviews, or include obscene, bigoted, or otherwise inappropriate language in your essays.

Additionally, keep in mind that the admissions officers will likely visit your social media accounts—make sure that your profiles and posts won’t hurt your chances of being admitted. Even after you are accepted, your college could notice any inappropriate behavior on social media.

The ultra-competitive college admissions landscape may seem intimidating, but following the right advice will enable you to create an outstanding applicant profile. Our Ivy League admission strategies are designed to help you avoid common mistakes and really impress the admission officers. Schedule a call with Ivy League Prep to learn more about our complete guidance programs.

Ivy League Admission Tips: Avoiding Common Mistakes, Part 1

The admissions landscape for the top colleges and universities in the United States has never been more competitive. Every year, thousands of high school students apply to the Ivy League schools with little chance of being admitted, which is understandable considering the abundance of conflicting information on how to craft a strong college admissions profile. Often, well-meaning parents, teachers, and guidance counselors give students erroneous advice on how to gain admission to prestigious schools. For example, being “well-rounded” is often touted as a surefire way to craft a competitive admissions profile—but applicants who do not excel in one specific area are rarely accepted to the best schools.

In this article, we consider some of the common mistakes applicants make during the admissions process. Most of these mistakes can be avoided easily, but all of them will lower your chances of being admitted to your first-choice school. Always keep these Ivy League admission tips in mind as you go about the college application process.

Spending Time on Many Unrelated Activities

You should focus on a handful of meaningful activities that suit your unique theme and narrative. Having a focused list of extracurricular activities is much more valuable than having an overly balanced list. Remember, you should try to excel in one area of interest: your academics, personal story, and overall application theme should all prove that you will accomplish great things in that field.

Failing to Take the Required Classes

If you want to be admitted to a top college, you must meet the school’s academic requirements. Before applying, carefully research each of your potential schools’ required high school classes—if you fail to take all the required classes, the admissions officers will deny your application.

Exaggerating or Lying

More than anything else, admissions officers value transparency, honesty, and integrity. Intentional dishonesty is a certain path to rejection. So, never be dishonest about your ethnicity, how many hours you spent on activities, whether or not you toured the college, and other details on your application.

Waiting Until the Last Minute

While you shouldn’t rush to submit your college applications, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute, either. Plan on writing the essay, securing recommendations, and finessing all the other parts of your application well before the deadline.

Wasting Summers

You may feel tempted to take it easy during summers, but doing so will weaken your admissions profile. Be prepared to spend your summers reading, learning, researching, preparing for entrance exams, interning, working, or otherwise engaging in activities that will enhance your theme and narrative.

Failing to Prepare for the ACT or SAT

You will likely need to invest significant time and energy to do well on the SAT or the ACT. If your score is disappointing, you may have to retake the test. Of course, this is perfectly acceptable— but only up to a point. The admissions officers reviewing your application may be concerned if you took an entrance exam more than twice. If you are unsatisfied with your test results, be sure to allow yourself enough time to prepare before taking the exam again.

Confusing One School with Another

As you prepare your applications for each college, double-check that the essay does not accidentally include the name of another college you are applying to. Moreover, take care not to mistakenly refer to a program, professor, or student-led organization from another college. Needless to say, this will make your application seem less credible.

Admittedly, gaining admission to the best schools in the United States often requires years of preparation. We would be delighted to provide you with the best Ivy League admission strategies and help you develop a compelling application theme and narrative. Schedule a meeting with Ivy League Prep to learn more.

Ivy League Admission Tips: How Volunteering Can Strengthen Your Admissions Profile

Given the remarkable competitiveness of the college admissions landscape, many students believe that they have to engage in all sorts of extracurricular activities to make their college applications stand out. As a result, many applicants strive to play an instrument, excel at a sport, join after-school clubs, participate in science competitions, and the like. However, these activities will do little to make your admissions profile more competitive if they are unrelated to your theme and narrative: the extracurricular activities you choose should closely match your unique admissions profile.

Volunteering is one of the extracurricular activities that many students participate in just to make their college applications more well-rounded. However, volunteering just to add something to your applications will not do much to impress the admissions officers. Moreover, your commitment to volunteering must be sincere if you want to use that activity to craft a stronger applicant profile.

In this article, we briefly examine some Ivy League admission strategies for incorporating volunteering into your college applications.

Be Authentic

Admissions officers value honesty and transparency, so any volunteer work you do needs to be motivated by a genuine desire to help people. Whether you work with underprivileged children, sing at a nursing home, or serve homeless people at a soup kitchen, the admissions officers should be able to tell that you genuinely care for your community.

Show Commitment

How much volunteering is needed to strengthen your admissions profile? One of the most important factors to consider is your level of commitment. Many high schools require their students to engage in some sort of volunteering, and the vast majority of college applicants note this in their applications. Therefore, volunteering sporadically will not set you apart from your peers. In contrast, showing exceptional commitment to an organization or a good cause for a number of years will definitely make your admissions profile stand out.

Be Indispensable

The admissions officers will be impressed if you hold an important position at the organization you volunteer with; simply filling a nondescript role will not make you stand out. Instead of being just another volunteer, try to become an indispensable member of the organization. As with any other activity, the key is to show deep commitment, initiative, and passion. Do your best to make a difference in your community and reveal your positive qualities: doing so will make your college applications much more competitive.

If you are truly dedicated to serving others, it will be relatively easy to show it in your college applications. Of course, you will have to list the names of the organizations you have served in along with the corresponding number of hours. You can also go beyond this and write about your commitment to these organizations in the personal essay or additional information section. Be sure to mention any recognitions you have received for your service. Moreover, if any of your teachers are familiar with your volunteering work, you should consider asking them for a letter of recommendation.

Clearly, it takes more than just a few hours of community service to show the admissions officers that you are a diligent, responsible, and selfless individual. If you follow the above Ivy League admission strategies, you’ll be able to craft a unique and compelling applicant profile that will highlight your hard work and regard for the well-being of others. Remember: the key is to be authentic, show commitment, and fill a key role at the organization you volunteer with. Book a consultation with Ivy League Prep for more tips on how to get accepted into the best colleges and universities.

Ivy League Admission Tips: Making the Most of College Visits

Soon it will be time to send in your college applications, and you’re trying to identify the schools that will work best for you. Making a list of target colleges certainly requires a lot of time and research, but how can you narrow down that list to a few realistic options? One of the best ways to get to know a college is to schedule a campus visit. By touring the campus, seeing the classrooms, and meeting students and faculty, you will get a feel for the college’s unique characteristics; as a result, it will be much easier to determine whether you want to apply to that school. Visiting potential colleges is an important Ivy League admission strategy.

Even though you have many resources at your disposal to help you get acquainted with potential colleges—such as virtual tours, blogs, and even conversations with alumni—nothing can adequately substitute for a campus visit. In this article, we discuss some important considerations for planning college visits and then examine strategies for making the most of your time on campus.

Planning a College Visit

Generally, the best time to schedule your college visits is during the spring of junior year. When planning your visits, consider how much time you have available, the distances you’re willing to travel, and how much you are willing to spend.

Since one of the main purposes of visiting college campuses is to help you refine your preliminary college list, you should visit as many of your top target schools as possible. Still, don’t feel that you have to visit every school on your preliminary list. In fact, carefully choosing which colleges to visit should help you narrow down your list to 10–12 schools.

Get to Know the School

While visiting college campuses may be exciting and enjoyable, the main goal of the visit is to get to know the school well. Therefore, make sure to be engaged and pay attention during the visit. You should take in the campus, watch the students and faculty, and try to get a feel for the overall culture and atmosphere of the college.

Attend the Information Session and Take the Tour

Information sessions and tours can be invaluable resources. Be sure to ask questions, talking to admissions officers, tour guides, students, and even faculty members whenever possible. For example, you can ask the admissions officers about the application process; inquire about what they look for in applications and essays, how financial aid requirements affect admissions decisions, and what kinds of students seem to thrive at the school.

Spend Unscheduled Time Exploring Campus

In addition to attending the information session and taking the tour, take time to explore the campus on your own. You might scan some bulletin boards to get a sense of upcoming activities, watch how students interact with one another, and ask any questions you have along the way.

Document Your Visit

Whenever you visit a college, carefully process what you see: you’ll be taking in a lot of information relatively quickly. If you don’t document what you learn during each visit, it might be difficult to keep track of each school’s characteristics when refining your list of colleges. Immediately after a visit, write down what you liked and didn’t like about the school, what stood out, and any other thoughts about the experience. Try to be as specific as possible.

College visits are key to crafting a realistic and balanced list of potential schools; make the most of each visit by following the above Ivy League admission strategies. Ivy League Prep would be delighted to provide further guidance on how to gain acceptance to your target schools.

Ivy League Admission Tips: Common College Interview Topics

Your college interviews are drawing near, and you want to make the best impression possible; after all, performing well on your interviews could ultimately get you accepted into your target schools.

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to anticipate all of the questions the interviewer will ask. Questions will vary from one interviewer to another, so planning your answers word-for-word is not the best use of your time. Rather than thinking about specific questions, you should consider the themes and topics that will likely come up and prepare to discuss them with specific details and examples. Thinking in general rather than specific terms when preparing for each interview is an important Ivy League admission strategy.

These are some of the themes and topics likely to be addressed during your college admissions interviews:


The interviewer may ask about your family, giving you an opportunity to highlight any interesting and unique background details that will add to your admissions narrative. You should focus on the details about your family, not just discussing the what but dwelling on the why.

Intellectual Curiosity

Much of the interview will be spent answering questions about your academic interests, both in and out of the classroom. The interviewer will likely ask about the academic subjects you are interested in. Instead of simply listing each subject, explain what intrigues you about it, what piqued your interest in it, and what you hope to accomplish in that field.

High School

The more substantive questions will relate to which courses you took in high school. Feel free to elaborate here, drawing on specific experiences to illustrate your reasoning.

You may also be asked more profound questions about your high school years. For example, the interviewer may ask you to share the biggest regret, disappointment, or failure you experienced in high school. They may also ask you what you would change about your high school.


One of the most important topics you’ll discuss in your interview is your plan for college—why you are interested in the school, what you plan to study, and why the college should accept your application. These questions require careful research and a fresh memory; the last thing you want to do is speak at length about the major you intend to pursue, only to find out that the college doesn’t even offer that major.

Extracurricular Activities & Interests

The interviewer may inquire about your extracurricular activities, hobbies, interests, talents, employment experience, summer activities, and recreational activities.

While you should generally avoid talking too much about your basic extracurricular activities and interests, do take time to discuss any activities that align with your application theme and narrative. For example, if you are passionate about a particular issue and started a nonprofit, explain why the organization is important, what it is accomplishing, and why you are passionate about that cause.

Personality and Character

The admissions interview may include questions that focus less on what you have done and more on who you are, that is, your character and personality. You may be asked to describe your strengths or weaknesses, discuss times you showed leadership, or share your dreams and aspirations. Questions like these may be difficult to prepare for, so you should just be genuine—remember, it’s okay to pause for a few moments to think before responding.

Again, the key to succeeding in your college interviews is not to memorize your answers. Rather, make sure you are familiar with all of the above topics and can clearly explain what your interests are. If you can convincingly tie in your academic goals with your unique narrative, the interviewer will likely be impressed.

Visit our blog for more Ivy League admission tips that will help you gain admission to your top-choice schools.

Ivy League Admission Tips: How to Approach Your College Interviews

You’ll want to make the best possible impression during your college interviews, so you need to conduct yourself in an engaging, professional way. The following Ivy League admission strategies will help you impress your interviewers and gain admission to your top-choice schools.

Be Engaged

You need to show engagement throughout the entire interview. This means that you should make eye contact, politely greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, listen carefully, and avoid distractions. Also, consider bringing your résumé (with a copy for the interviewer) and some notes to help keep you focused.

Be Professional

You need to present yourself as a mature, professional applicant. Therefore, do your best to be polite, show respect, speak clearly, and give the interviewer your undivided attention (be especially careful not to glance at your phone). Avoid interrupting the interviewer and do not appear eager to be done with the interview.

Think Before Answering

When you are asked a question, pause and think before answering. Try to develop your unique narrative throughout the interview; give answers that naturally tie in with your story. Instead of saying whatever comes to mind, make sure to share the information that is most relevant to your personal application theme and narrative.

Explain the Why

One of the most important strategies to keep in mind is to explain the why behind the what. All of the topics you’ll discuss in your interview—your courses, interests, activities, and college plans—will lose their significance if they fail to tell your story. Therefore, you must explain the why behind your activities and accomplishments.

However, try to go beyond the why of your admissions profile; also explain why you are interested in the interviewer’s school and how that college will help you achieve your career and academic goals. Doing so will prove that you will be a valuable asset to the school.

Express Interest in the College

Even if the college in question is not your first pick, you should indicate that you will likely attend if you are admitted. This might raise questions about whether you are planning to apply early decision. If the application deadline has passed, then the interviewer might ask why you did not apply early decision or early action. Be ready to give an honest answer. For example, you can explain that your application was not ready by the deadline. Still, take care not to suggest that you applied early decision or early action to another college.

Demonstrate Substance

You should be well-prepared and present yourself in a polished manner while keeping substance in mind. Admissions interviewers can see through shallow applicants regardless of their confidence, charisma, or communication skills. The reverse is also true—interviewers are typically able to recognize an applicant’s substance even if the latter is shy or reserved.

Save Questions for the End

Save your questions for the end of the interview. Remember, the admissions interview is an opportunity for you to take a single-sentence question and provide a deep, expansive answer. Instead of breaking the flow of your narrative, stay focused on showing why you are a compelling applicant.

When the time comes to ask questions, you need to have at least four or five. Do some preliminary research about the college and ask questions that cannot be easily answered by checking its website. For example, you might want to ask about the strengths and availability of the college’s faculty. Alternatively, you could inquire about campus social life, interesting events, or unique opportunities—anything that won’t readily be found online but that will give you a taste of what the college has to offer.

Preparing for the college interview is just one of the many steps in the competitive college admissions process. Learn more about Ivy League Prep’s complete guidance programs and find out how we help our clients gain admission to top schools.

Ivy League Admission Tips: How to Evaluate Potential Colleges

Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during high school. If you find a college that suits your academic, career, and personal goals, it will be much easier to succeed after graduation. When assessing potential schools, you should consider the following factors to determine if the college works for you.


A college’s location has a significant impact on its character. You should evaluate the potential college’s geography, climate, demographics, and local amenities. When doing so, try to identify your personal preferences. For instance, you may want to stay relatively close to home or avoid cold weather. Also, you may either prefer the amenities offered by large cities or the quiet of smaller towns.

Funding: Public or Private

The nature of a school’s funding has a bearing on its cost, academics, and campus environment. State-funded colleges and universities tend to have lower tuition costs and a much larger enrollment. On the other hand, private colleges are usually more expensive, enroll fewer students, and offer more financial aid.


As mentioned above, a college’s cost largely depends on whether it is public or private. Still, every school is different, and the financial aid opportunities offered will be unique for each student. For example, a public college that offers in-state tuition may be much more accessible than a public college in another state. The financial aid opportunities available to you will depend on your grades, test scores, accomplishments, and other factors. Make sure to look into any available scholarships or grants.


The size of a college influences just about every aspect of the institution. Still, larger and smaller schools each have their strengths and weaknesses, so a college’s size is a less critical factor to consider. For instance, larger schools tend to have more majors, higher athletics rankings, and a broader range of opportunities. In contrast, smaller schools usually have a stronger sense of community, smaller class sizes, and more accessible professors.


Each school’s nature and character have been developed by its unique history. You can be sure that every college has strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and traditions, all of which relate to its history.

For example, you may prefer schools that have historically strong participation in fraternities and sororities. If you are an athlete, then you’ll want a college with a history of excelling at your sport.

Culture and Diversity

A campus’s culture is largely determined by the backgrounds, interests, and lifestyles of the students and staff. As a result, the demographics of a college strongly influence its culture.

For example, a school with a large number of international students will offer a more diverse culture. Associating with students from different backgrounds will make the learning experience unique for everyone.


The education offered by each potential school is likely the most important factor you must consider. When evaluating a school’s academics, examine its majors, minors, concentrations, and offered courses. Does the college match your academic interests and goals?

Also, do some research on other matters related to the school’s academics. Can students easily transfer from one of the university’s colleges to another? Does the school employ an open curriculum, or are there certain core course requirements? How are classes structured and taught?

Extracurricular Activities

During high school, you have likely become interested in a handful of extracurricular activities, and you may want to continue to pursue them in college. Find out what extracurriculars, volunteer opportunities, clubs, and other activities are offered by each school.

Choosing a college may be challenging, but these Ivy League admission tips will help you craft a realistic list of schools that suit your needs. Book an initial consultation with Ivy League Prep for more guidance on how to gain admission to the best possible schools.