As we reported in our previous blog, rising tuition fees and diminishing course choices are prompting more and more UK students to look abroad for higher education. Many set their sights on the prestigious US Ivy League; the group of 8 elite universities that forms the American equivalent of Oxbridge. They are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.
But applying to these top colleges from the UK is no mean feat, with admissions requirements differing significantly from the UCAS process. Here are our top tips for getting into the Ivy League…
1. Ace the SAT
To apply to an American university you have to take a standardised test called the SAT. There are hundreds of text books and sample papers out there so use them to prepare to the hilt – you will need a very high score to be considered by the Ivy League. We recommend using the official College Board practice materials, as they are likely to be the most accurate indicators of actual exam content.
2. Take some Advance Placement Tests
APs allow US students to study college level material whilst still in high school. If they score highly enough on the tests, their results will be worth ‘college credit’ when they get to university. These tests are usually taken by high-achieving high school students to prove their potential for Ivy League applications, so it is worth sitting some if you want to be able to compete.
3. Give your Personal Statement Punch
As with UCAS, a personal statement is required for the US application process. Use yours to make you stand out from the crowd – try to imbue it with a real sense of personality and pizazz and avoid generic platitudes like “I want to be a doctor because I want to help people.” For more advice on spicing up your statement, see our 3-part Personal Statement Guide.
4. Amazing Admissions Essays
Admissions essays are perhaps the single most important component of any Ivy League application. They range in topic from specific, even bizarre prompts like the University of Chicago’s “What would you do with a foot and a half tall jar of mustard?” to more traditional questions about career aspirations, subject choices and your reasons for choosing a particular college. Make yours shine, with the most original ideas, structure and language you can think of. Try looking at the question in a new and different way, or question why it is being asked at all – above all, make sure you stand out from the crowd.
5. Fantastic References
The Ivy League application package also requires references from your current teachers. Make sure you search out the teachers who know you the best and are likely to write the most glowing reports. Remember that UK teachers are used to writing UCAS recommendations – so may not be aware of word length or content requirements for American applications. Research these for them and politely let them know the details to be confident of getting a pitch perfect reference.
Still stressed? Check back soon for a more detailed guide to writing an amazing admissions essay!